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Acid Plant Database   August 19, 2020

Owner Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd.
Subsidiary of Vedanta Resources Group

Sterlite-Industries-Logo.gif (2698 bytes)

Location SIPCOT Industrial Complex
Tuticorin - 628 002
Tamil Nadu, India
Background -
Website www.sterlitecopper.com
www.vedantaresources.com
Plant  Acid Plant I Acid Plant II
Coordinates*

8° 49' 18" N, 78° 4' 38" E

8° 49' 24" N, 78° 4' 37" E
Type of Plant Metallurgical Metallurgical
Gas Source Copper
Isasmelt
Copper
Isasmelt
Plant Capacity 1600 MTPD -
SA/DA 3/1 DA 2/2 DA
Status Shutdown May 2018 Shutdown May 2018
Year Built 1997 2004
Technology Chemetics (Basic Engineering) -
Contractor - -
Remarks - -
Pictures          
Video Company Video 1
Company Video 2
General

Vedanta has two copper businesses, the first based in India and the second at Konkola Copper Mines in Zambia, which was acquired in November 2004.
The copper business in India is held within Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd.  There is some captive copper mining, but the business is principally in smelting and refining.  Sterlite produces finished copper in the form of cathode some of which is then converted to copper rod.  The initial process is carried out at the smelter, based at Tuticorin in southern India, and there are refineries and copper rod plants at Tuticorin and Silvassa, in western India.  Sterlite owns two copper mines in Australia which supplied around 11% of Sterlite's copper concentrate requirements in 2005-06.  One of the mines was closed in July 2005.    In May 2005 a new 300,000 tpa smelter was commissioned.  This replaced the previous smelter which had capacity of 180,000 tpa.

Expansion commissioned in April 2005

- Smelter Capacity increased from 180 KTPA to 300 KTPA
- New 120 KTPA Cathode Refinery at Tuticorin increasing total capacity to 300 KTPA
- New 90 KTPA Rod Plant increasing total capacity to 240 KTPA
- Phosphoric Acid Plant expanded to from 120 KTPA to 180 KTPA

References S. Kumar, "Sterlite Improves Its Acid Quality", Sulphur, No. 266, January-February 2000, pp. 41-48
News

August 18, 2020 - India's Madras High Court has ruled against the reopening of domestic mining conglomerate Vedanta Resources' 400,000 t/yr Sterlite copper smelter in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, in a move likely to increase the country's copper concentrate imports.  The court dismissed a petition from Vedanta to restart the smelter, which has been closed since the end of March 2018 because it had not obtained the necessary clearance to operate.  Vedanta will pursue all legal remedies to reopen the plant, Sterlite Copper chief executive Pankaj Kumar said.  In February 2019, the firm filed a case against the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board order that had led to the plant's closure. India's Supreme Court had earlier denied the firm access to the plant, but gave Vedanta leave to appeal to the high court. The Madras court had reserved judgment on the case since January. Its decision comes at a time when India is looking to become self-reliant in raw materials production, and will impact the country's ability to become an independent copper manufacturer, Kumar said.  The plant's closure has resulted in India becoming a net importer of copper cathodes rather than a net exporter. Combined copper cathode production from the country's key suppliers — Hindustan Copper, Hindalco and Vedanta — dropped to about 408,400t in April-March 2019, from around 423,000t a year earlier, official data show. Imports increased by 69.79pc over the same period, to 142,300t from 83,800t.  The closure of the Sterlite plant also reduced domestic availability of sulphuric acid, resulting in increased imports. Sterlite's smelter produces around 1.1mn t/yr of sulphuric acid.

 

June 26, 2019 - The Vedanta Group has denied that the Sterlite copper smelter in Thoothukudi has been a significant contributor to the water and air pollution in the area.  Sterlite has been a target of vested interests, which is evident from the fact that there has been surge in public demonstrations and complaints against the company after its expansion project was announced, the group said in a rejoinder to the counter-affidavit filed by the Tamil Nadu government in the Madras High Court.  The Madras High Court on March 1 admitted a petition filed by the Vedanta Group for re-opening the Sterlite facility, but declined to grant interim relief that would have given the company access to the plant for maintenance work. A Division Bench comprising Justices TS Sivagnanam and Bhavani Subbaroyan will be hearing the case, which is coming up on Thursday.  The Vedanta Group, in the rejoinder, said that Thoothukudi has power plants with the largest capacity (5,000 MW) in a single city within Tamil Nadu.   Hence, emissions of SOX (sulphur oxides), NOX (oxides of nitrogen), and RSPM (respirable suspended particulate matter) are relatively higher. This has led to huge human development concerns, which has been ignored by the State government even as it targeted the company with its prejudicial actions. The SO2 (sulphur dioxide) emissions from its copper smelter are not more than 1-2 per cent of the total SO2 emissions in Thoothukudi. It has denied that the significant pollutant marker levels have gone down after the closure of the plant.  There are conclusive evidences on the impact due to power plants, but the State government has chosen not to mention any of it for oblique reasons, Vedanta said.  The data collected from the region surrounding the plant area show that agriculture has improved in the Ottapidaram taluk over the last few years, with the net sown area increasing from 29,030 hectares in 2003-04 to 36,315 hectares in 2009-10. The ground water in and around the unit has always had high levels of total dissolved solids, chlorides, sulphates and total hardness due to the site’s proximity to coastal aquifers. Hence, even before the copper smelter was set up, the water was unfit for domestic use.  The company has complied with all the directions of the National Green Tribunal in spite of the same being under appeal before the Supreme Court.  The Source Apportionment Study would have established the sources of pollution in Thoothukudi. The attitude of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board in not undertaking the study shows its lack of interest and it has blindly accused the company of polluting the environment, without even issuing a show-cause notice, Vedanta said.


January 8, 2019 - India's Supreme Court has cleared the way for diversified copper producer Vedanta to reopen its Sterlite Copper smelter in Tamil Nadu, after it refused to stay an order for its closure by the provincial government.  The interim ruling "paves the way for the Sterlite Copper plant to reopen" and the company will now file an application to environmental regulator to operate the smelter, a Vedanta spokesman said. The plant has a production capacity of 1.1mn t/yr of sulphuric acid.  India's environmental court the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered the restart of the smelter on 17 December, subject to certain environmental protection measures. The Tamil Nadu government appealed this ruling.  Indian sulphuric acid buyers are upbeat on the restart of the smelter. Some market participants now anticipate that a April start-up could be realistic.  The impact of the Sterlite Copper smelter's shutdown on the domestic sulphuric acid market has been significant because of limited supply options in the region. The operator declared a force majeure on sulphuric acid deliveries following the closure, which pushed consumers into the international spot market for not only sulphuric acid but also sulphur and finished fertilizer products.  Indian sulphuric acid imports reached 1.4mn t in 2018, according to Argus analysis, up by 59pc from 2017.

December 6, 2018
- Sterlite Copper's Tuticorin plant closure has led to a spike in prices of phosphoric and sulphuric acids, adversely affecting the downstream chemical and fertilisers industry, a top company official said.  The Vedanta-owned company's unit in Tamil Nadu was closed in May this year following a government order.  "In the last six-months, prices of sulphuric acid have shot up from Rs 3000/tonne to Rs 12,000/tonne, a rise of 300 percent (four fold), and a tonne of phosphoric acid costs Rs 53,000 as compared to Rs 43,000 a tonne six month earlier, a rise of 23 percent," Sterlite Copper CEO P Ramnath said.  "The plant met 80-90 percent of demand for sulphuric acid in the country and 15 percent of the phosphoric acid demand. The closure of our plant has led to a sharp surge in demand, thereby driving up prices," Ramnath added.  He said the 4,00,000 tonne per annum plant, which met over 30 percent of the of India's copper demand, produced sulphuric and phosphoric acids as a by-product which are key raw material for manufacturing of fertiliser.  The copper smelter was producing 1.2 million tonne (MT) of sulphuric acid per annum, half of this was sold on a commercial basis; and 2,30,000 tonne of phosphoric acid every year, Ramnath said.  The sharp rise in prices will surely affect the prices of fertilisers which will further affect the farmers as they are the primary consumers of fertilisers, he noted.  The government has set a target of doubling the farmers' income, but if the input cost remains high it will affect the profit margin, Ramnath said.  He said that the plant's closure is also hurting industries that use copper for manufacturing a wide variety of products.  "Due to the shutdown in the last six months... import of the metal has seen a surge. While premium on copper has gone up by 10-15 percent, the import of the metal has shot up 2.5 times to nearly 30,000 tonne per month," he said.  The Tamil Nadu government had in May ordered permanent closure of Vedanta's Sterlite Copper unit in the state after 13 people, among protesters demanding its shutdown on environmental concerns, were killed in police firing.

October 28, 2018 -
The level of sulphur-dioxide (SO2) in the air has reduced significantly after the closure of Sterlite’s plant at Thoothukudi, claimed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to justify the State government’s arguments that SO2 was a major reason for high levels of pollution in the port city, and the decision to close the plant was correct.The TNPCB on Sunday submitted a comparative study before the three-member panel of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in response to industry’s claims that there was no appreciable change in the ambient air quality after the plant’s closure.SO2 levels on September 22, 2017 (sample taken on top of FB substation 230 Kva-Sterlite switching station) was around 20 micrograms per cubic metre (MPCM). However, it was less 5 MPCM on October 12 and 13 (sample taken on top of scaffolding of All India Radio).There has been an increase in the level of Particulate Matter (PM) to 64.9 MPCM on October 12 and 13 as against 56 MPCM on September 22, 2017. This could be due to the dust emanated from the open dump such as gypsum, slag and secured landfill facility.Similarly, the level of nitrogen dioxide reduced to less than 5 MPCM in October as against 15 mpcm in September 2017, the TNPCB said in its submission to the panel headed by Justice Tarun Agrawal, former Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court.The panel was constituted after Sterlite’s parent company Vedanta petitioned the tribunal to consider reopening the plant that was sealed on May 28 due to protests by locals against alleged pollution.On its part, counsels for Sterlite concluded their arguments. “The government’s reaction was only knee-jerk without any proper analysis and hence Sterlite had to face the unpleasant consequences,” said Sterlite sources.MDMK leader Vaiko will again argue before the panel tomorrow, sources said.

August 29, 2018
- Production of refined copper has slumped by 47.1% during the first quarter of FY19. This is primarily attributed to the shutdown of the 400 KT (kilo tonne) Thoothukudi smelter of Sterlite Copper, which accounted for 40% of the country’s copper smelting capacity. The decline in domestic production has led to a domino effect on the trade front. There has been a sharp increase in import and a fall in export of refined copper. Exports have shrunk by 91.6%, while imports have increased by 221.6% in the first quarter of FY19, an analysis by CARE Ratings shows.  This is in stark contrast to the first quarter of the previous financial year, where exports increased by 70.1%, while imports fell by 69.9%. India used to be the net exporter of refined copper.  During the quarter, the output of two other companies — Hindustan Copper and Hindalco — also saw constraints due to the shutdown of their smelters for maintenance.  The managing director of an MSME based in Chennai said that since the closure of Sterlite Copper, production at his firm had been impacted. “We make materials on the electrical space and copper is a key ingredient for us. The cost of copper has pinched us badly in the last two months,” he said, requesting anonymity.  Coimbatore Pioneer Fertilizers Ltd., a manufacturer of single super phosphate fertilisers, is also feeling the pinch of Sterlite’s closure and is working at a very low capacity using alternative source (spent acid) for its sulphuric acid requirement, which was hitherto met by Sterlite. “We are now operating at low capacity [just under 25%],” a top company source said.  Amrita Chemicals, a manufacturer and exporter of sodium silico fluoride, is facing a huge penalty for it inability to meet its contractual export obligation in the wake of the Sterlite imbroglio.  Similarly, Shree Annam Chemicals, a manufacturer of animal feed, has been forced to cut down on its operations in the wake of non-availability of a critical input in the wake of the Sterlite’s closure. Sources said the company has to rely on imports which has cost implications for the end consumers who are farmers.   A leading chemical trader in Chennai said that the prices of sulphuric acid had double since the closure of Sterlite unit, which is the lone producer in the South.


July 5, 2018
- India's environmental court did not allow Vedanta Ltd to reopen its copper smelter in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, a lawyer representing the state said on Thursday after a hearing on the matter.  India's National Green Tribunal did not accept Vedanta's request to reopen the smelter on an interim basis, V. Mowli, a lawyer for the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) said outside the court.  Vedanta has also sought a permanent injunction against the Tamil Nadu state government from interfering with the operations of its copper smelter.  The lawyer representing Vedanta in the hearing, Rohini Musa, did not respond to repeated calls requesting comment. A company spokesman for Vedanta confirmed there was a case before the Tribunal but did not comment specifically on Thursday's decision.  The Tamil Nadu government ordered the permanent closure of the plant and disconnected its power supply in May following protests that turned violent and culminated in the police opening fire on protesters, killing 13 of them.  The protesters had demanded a permanent shutdown of the plant, which they said was causing air and water pollution, and as a risk to fisheries. Vedanta says the protests were based on false notions.  Vedanta Ltd, a subsidiary of billionaire Anil Agarwal-controlled Vedanta Resources, argued that the closure of the smelter was only based on "political considerations and to appease the public protests," according to a copy of the petition reviewed by Reuters.  However, the Tamil Nadu government will stick to its stance that the plant is polluting, said Rakesh Sharma, a second lawyer representing the TNPCB.  "We'll argue on their violation on environmental aspects," he said. The case will be heard next on July 18 for the state to reply to the issues raised in Vedanta's petition.  Vedanta said in its petition that inspections by the TNPCB whose findings were used to shut down the plant never happened.  "No such inspection (was) carried out by the officials of the TNPCB" on May 18 or 19, the company said.  Vedanta, which exports copper worth over $1.3 billion annually, is also one of India's largest producers of sulfuric acid and phosphoric acid, both of which are used to make fertilizers.  The shutdown of the smelter, which employs more than 3,500 people, has led to a rise in the price of copper in India by over 10 percent, and the price of sulfuric acid by more than 6 times, the company said.

July 3, 2018
- Vedanta Ltd. has sought a permanent injunction against the Tamil Nadu state government from interfering with the operations of its copper smelter, according to a petition filed with the country’s environmental court.  The Indian company, subsidiary of billionaire Anil Agarwal-controlled Vedanta Resources <VED.L>, also asked the court to set aside an order by which the state government had permanently shut the company’s smelter, and allow it to operate the plant.  The Tamil Nadu state government ordered a permanent closure of the plant and disconnected power supply to the smelter in May following protests that turned violent and culminated in the police opening fire on protesters, killing 13 of them.  The protesters had demanded a permanent shutdown of the plant, which they said was causing air and water pollution, and see it as a risk to fisheries. Vedanta says the protests are based on false notions.  In a petition filed to the Delhi bench of the National Green Tribunal, Vedanta also asked to “declare as unlawful and illegal the exercise of powers by the government of Tamil Nadu” to shutdown the smelter.  The company reiterated its demand to allow limited access into the plant, and asked for the restoration of basic power supplies.  Vedanta said in a statement it had filed the appeal to the National Green Tribunal challenging the closure of its Thoothukudi copper smelter.  Vedanta said last month a sulphuric acid leak from a tank at the smelter could lead to serious environmental consequences. The district administration subsequently removed the acid from the smelter.  The company also asked the state government’s pollution control board to reconsider its application for consent to operate, which was rejected in April.  The smelter, which has a capacity of 400,000 tonnes a year and accounts for over a third of the country’s consumption of refined copper, has been shut since March 27.

June 18, 2018
- “We are already assisting the local administration to handle the situation and have offered all support to keep a vigil on the plant and its surroundings. In fact, anticipating such incidents in the absence of regular maintenance, we have been requesting the State government to give us limited manpower access and minimal power supply so that mandatory safety audits at the smelter can be regularly carried out. That request is still pending...We have had no access to the plant ever since it was suddenly sealed and locked with effect from May 28, 2018,” the statement said. The quantity of sulphuric acid present in the plant was not known. Meanwhile, when Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, who attended a meeting of the NITI Aayog in New Delhi, was asked by journalists if the Prime Minister had spoken to him about the Sterlite controversy, he merely said the issue was under inquiry.  The government had taken all steps to ensure the closure of the Sterlite plant. He pointed out that the government had suspended electricity supply to the plant, and it was sealed.

May 28, 2018
- Vedanta group's Sterlite copper plant in Tuticorin has been ordered to be permanently shut by the Tamil Nadu government.  Large-scale violence on May 22 against the Sterlite copper plant here and police firing led to the death of 12 persons and the next day saw one more youth succumbing to injuries sustained in police firing.  Tamil Nadu deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam on Monday asserted that the government will take resolute steps for the permanent closure of Vedanta group’s Sterlite copper plant in Thoothukudi.  “Today, the main demand of the people is that the copper plant should be permanently closed. In keeping with their demand, it is shut now. I would like to make it clear that Sterlite plant will be permanently shut,” Panneerselvam said.  In a recent interview, Anil Agarwal, chairman, Vedanta Resources, alluded to vested interests behind the tragic events. "It is unfortunate what happened about 5 km away from our plants. When we had the information that something like this was being planned for the 22nd, we reached out to the court and the court was quick to inform the local administration for it to be prepared… and section 144 was imposed," he said.  He also said false propaganda led to the protests which led to 13 deaths. "Vedanta as a responsible corporate citizen and on humanitarian grounds, we will extend all possible support to families of the deceased and severely injured. The basic premise of the protest was unfortunate, as the plant was non-operational, awaiting Consent to Operate from TNPCB."  Sterlite Copper is a unit of Vedanta Ltd which operates a 400,000-tonne per annum capacity plant here.  With the return of normalcy, prohibitory orders were relaxed and the internet services have also been restored fully.  This spells bad news for Vedanta investors, further putting downward pressure on a stock that’s fallen 25% since the start of this year. 


May 19, 2018 - Vedanta Resources Plc’s shutdown of its South Indian copper smelter, one of India’s biggest, is causing a copper deficit and increased prices in India, its subsidiary Vedanta Ltd said on Friday.The smelter, located in a sleepy port city near the tip of the Indian peninsula, has a share of about 35 per cent in the India’s primary copper market and exports mainly to Gulf and Asian countries, Vedanta said.The unit has been shut for more than 50 days.“Due to non-availability of our production, there is a deficit of copper supply in the country impacting prices and availability,” Vedanta Ltd said in a statement on Friday.The plant, which can produce 400,000 tonnes of copper a year, will remain shut until at least June 6 as the local pollution regulator will not allow it to operate due to alleged non-compliance with environmental rules..Copper prices hit more than six-year lows in 2016 but have gained more than 50 per cent from those levels. The benchmark three-month copper contract on the London Metal Exchange was trading at $6860.50 at 1351 GMT.The company said the shutdown was also causing an increase in the price of sulphuric acid, a smelting byproduct used to make fertilizers.The smelter, controlled by the company’s majority-owned Indian subsidiary Vedanta Ltd, has been the target of protests by the people of Thootukudi, where the plant is located. They have thronged the streets and shut shops demanding a closure of the plant.The plant was shut for more than two months in 2013 by an Indian environmental court after complaints from residents over emissions. Locals and environmentalists have said Vedanta’s smelter is a major source of pollution and a risk to fisheries.Vedanta says the protests are based on “false allegations” and plans to double capacity at the smelter to 800,000 tonnes per year.Cable makers in India, such as Finolex Cables Ltd and Precision Wires India Ltd, have traditionally bought copper from the two biggest producers, Vedanta’s Sterlite and Aditya Birla Group’s Hindalco Industries Ltd.Copper is mainly used to make wires and cables and to make electronic devices, transformers and motors.Based on current local demand growth of 7-8 per cent per year, India may turn into a net importer of copper by the year ended March 2020 if no new plant is commissioned, consultancy firm ICRA Ltd said in a report last month.

May 15, 2018
- Sterlite Copper, the Vedanta group company that has been embroiled in pollution-related controversy yet again, is hopeful of re-starting its copper smelter facility at Thoothukudi in southern Tamil Nadu soon.  The company’s appeal against the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board’s (TNPCB) decision not to renew the ‘consent to operate’ is coming up at the Apellate Authority -- Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board on May 17.  “We are confident. We are strong on facts,” P Ramnath, Chief Executive Officer, told BusinessLine.  The company’s smelter plant with a capacity to produce 4 lakh tonnes per annum has remained shut since the last week of March after the TNPCB refused to extend the ‘consent to operate’ — an approval that is required for any facility to continue operations.  “We applied for the consent in January. As per the norms, TNPCB should have responded in 45 days. They kept us hanging and finally held back the consent,” he said. The earlier consent expired on March 31, 2018. The TNPCB has said that it has held back the consent for multiple reasons which include non-furnishing of ground water analysis report both within the factory and surrounding areas, non-removal of copper slug stored along Uppar river and non-construction of a physical barrier between the slag land fill and the river, generation and disposal of hazardous waste without proper authorisation as per rules, non-submission of ambient air quality, noise level and stack emission and non-construction of a gypsum pond as per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines.The company, on its part, has said that it has strong response for each of these reasons.  This is not the first time the unit has shut down for environmental reasons.  The previous closure in 2013 saw the matter go up to the National Green Tribunal and then the Supreme Court. The plant remained shut for weeks.  The latest round of protests against the unit started when the company announced plans to double its capacity to 8 lakh tonnes at an investment of ₹3,000 crore.  Leading politicians in the State also lent their support. “We have invested as much as ₹500 crore in pollution abatement. Also, we do not let out sulphur dioxide as we convert it to sulphuric acid and sell it,” Ramnath said.The company claims that it has put in place state-of-the-art equipment such as fenceline monitoring system, live flow of emission data to TNPCB, interlocks (this facility stops the plant automatically if sulphur dioxide levels exceed the permissible levels) and the entire plant is a zero-discharge facility.As regards the expansion, Ramnath claims that the company has got the necessary clearances from both Ministry of Environment and Forests and TNPCB. It blames foreign-funded NGOs with ‘hidden agenda’ for the protests.  The protesters blame the company for flouting rules and all ills in and around the plant in Thoothukudi.  All eyes are now on the Appellate Authority as it hears the company and those opposing its operation on May 17.

May 1, 2018
- Tamil Nadu’s anti-pollution board has flouted norms for two decades to allow Sterlite Copper to operate its smelter complex in Thoothukudi with chimney stacks much shorter than is permitted, an environmental non-profit alleged on Monday. This has helped the Vedanta-owned company cut costs while “exposing the residents of Thoothukudi to grave harm”, the Chennai Solidarity Group claimed.  Guidelines prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board required a 68-metre chimney stack when Sterlite made its first proposal to produce sulphuric acid in 1996, but the company managed with a 60-metre stack, the Chennai Solidarity Group found. In later years, with increasing production capacity, even higher chimney stacks were needed, but Sterlite continued with the same height, the nonprofit said.  The statutory height of chimney stacks is calculated using the production capacity of a plant. The company needed at least an 88-metre chimney stack for its capacity in 2006, the group’s report said.
  In India, copper smelters are required to recover the sulphur dioxide they produce and convert it into useful products. Sterlite has two sulphuric acid plants in Thoothukudi.  For over two decades, activists in Thoothukudi have accused Sterlite of contaminating the region’s air and water resources. Since February, there have been large-scale protests in Thoothukudi, where the copper smelter Sterlite runs has the capacity to produce 4.38 lakh tonnes of copper anodes per annum, or 1,200 tonnes per day.  The pollution board rejected the company’s application to renew its licence for the copper plant after its Consent to Operate expired on March 31. Sterlite Copper has challenged the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board’s order. The chairperson of the Appellate Authority, Justice T Sudanthiram, asked the pollution control board to reply to Sterlite’s plea and scheduled the next hearing for May 4.


March 28, 2018
- The Hindu Business Line reported that Vedanta’s copper smelting unit in Tuticorin will be shut for 15 days as part of a routine maintenance. A senior company official told BusinessLine the four-lakh-tonne a year smelting unit is being shut to replace the refractory brick lining in the smelter, an exercise that is carried out every four years. The refining and copper rod production will continue.  Meanwhile, the INR 2,500-crore expansion project at the unit to double the capacity is on schedule, the official said.  L&T has been awarded the EPC contract and is setting up the entire expanded facility, the official said. When completed in about a year’s time the annual capacity of the plant will go to 8 lakh tonnes of copper cathode, which is refined copper of 99.95 % purity.  For now, from the refined copper the unit makes about 2.5 lakh tonnes of copper rods for the domestic market and about 1.5 lakh tonnes of plates for domestic and export markets.  The raw material, copper concentrate is imported through the Tuticorin Port.  In addition, the by products are about 10 lakh tonnes of sulphuric acid and nearly half this is used to make about 2 lakh tonnes of phosphoric acid. These are used by domestic industries, including chemicals and fertiliser units. With the expansion, the output of these acids will also go up.

March 27, 2018
- When thousands of people gathered at Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu on Saturday demanding the closure of a copper smelting factory in the coastal town, it was only the latest in a series of protests going back over 20 years.As traders’ associations joined the stir, shops remained closed in Thoothukudi in a 24-hour shutdown. The protest gained momentum in the evening when thousands came together at the Chidambara Nagar bus stand to express solidarity to the people of Kumarettiyapuram village, who have been protesting, claiming that a nearby copper plant owned by Sterlite Industries Ltd has contaminated the groundwater and caused respiratory problems.Last month, when villagers launched an indefinite stir against the firm’s proposed expansion plans and demanded its closure, over 250 protesters were arrested, and later released.“Apart from environmental damages, the Sterlite industry has caused various health hazards. Cancer and respiratory diseases have become very common in this town,” said Fathima Babu, one of the activists leading the agitation.On Monday, opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (DMK) leader M.K. Stalin urged the Tamil Nadu government to shut down Sterlite Industries. While environmentalists have been blaming the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) for having failed to follow the norms, Stalin accused the state government body of failing to take steps to prevent pollution.A group of protesters laid siege to the district collector’s office in Thoothukudi on Monday.According to the company’s website, it operates a 400,000 metric tonnes per annum (MTPA) production capacity copper smelter with associate facilities such as refinery and copper rod plant, sulphuric acid plant of more than 1.2 million MTPA and phosphoric acid plant of 220,000 MTPA at State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu Ltd (SIPCOT), Thoothukudi. Sterlite also operates a 160 megawatts (MW) coal-based power plant in the southern coastal town of Tamil Nadu.Sterlite Industries, a subsidiary of the London-based Vedanta Resources Plc, has been in the middle of legal battles since it began operations in 1996 and has seen agitations by farmers, fishermen, traders and various others from different walks of life. Political parties and environmental organisations have fought sustained legal battles against copper industry.In 2010, citing violations in environmental norms and pollution control, the Madras high court— in a case filed against Sterlite Industries in 1996—ordered the company to halt operations. The company obtained a stay from the Supreme Court and continued to operate.In the early hours of 23 March 2013, people of Thoothukudi complained of suffocation and irritation in the eye. In the same week, the TNPCB stopped the power supply and ordered the factory shut after sulphur-dioxide leaked from it. But the National Green Tribunal allowed it to be reopened.Vedanta Group said: “Our smelter at Tuticorin has already received all the necessary regulatory clearances for the expansion and our primary commitment therein is to ensure the development and well-being of all the communities around our operations.”

March 20, 2019
- The anti-Sterlite stir here appears to gain inspiration from a ‘motivated foreign hand’ even as all the political parties and also the major traders’ outfit, Tamilnadu Vanigar Sangangalin Peramaippu, (Federation of Tamil Nadu traders’ associations) have stayed clear of it and even welcomed the company’s proposal to double the capacity of its copper smelting plant to eight lakh tonnes per annum as it would lead to regional industrial growth, all-round economic development and increased employment opportunities.  Some local ‘environment’ activists such as Fatima Babu and M. Krishnamoorthy are leading the agitation against Sterlite’s expansion project. Their call for bandh on March 24 has got the support of a section of traders belonging to the Thoothukudi city central traders’ association, whose general secretary T. Baskar said the members would down their shutters on March 24 and participate in the anti-Sterlite rally in the town. Opposing the agitation, the Tamilnadu Vanigar Sangagalin Peramaippu led by Vikiramaraja argued that the traders should not go against any industry.  Anti-Sterlite Krishnamoorthy, who had obtained a court direction to the district police to permit the March 24 rally, told DC it was regrettable that none of the political parties came forward to support the agitation against the company.  “Our talks with the lorry owners’ association to join our strike (March 24) did not entirely work due to their internal differences. The association has since asked its members to decide for themselves whether to support our stir or not”, he said.  D. Dhanavel, head, safety-health-environment, at Sterlite Copper, a unit of Vedanta Group, rubbished the agitation as “false propaganda” and said the smelting plant maintained “very low” emission level of just 0.3 kg per tonne of copper smelting, whereas the pollution control board permitted 1.0 kg per tonne.  On the charge that the plant released excessive sulphur dioxide into atmosphere, he said, “releasing sulphur dioxide wastefully into atmosphere will actually be a loss to us as we now control its emission so as to produce sulphuric acid for commercial purpose”.  The Sterlite executive also pointed out the company “is one of the very few industries in India to win the Sword of Honour award from the British safety council”.  Meanwhile, police sources here confirmed the Sterlite allegation that ‘external forces’ were instigating the agitation against the company and its expansion project. One Samarendra Dhas representing ‘Foil Vedanta Group’ of London had allegedly visited Thoothukudi recently for a ‘secret meeting’ with the anti-Sterlite leaders, where he reportedly promised help to keep alive the fire against the copper smelting plant. “One man of Orissa did come to participate in our consultative meeting. He promised us all help. I do not remember his name”, Krishnamurthy said. He declined answer when asked why his group, usually hyper active with the media, kept Dhas’ trip a secret.  Hindu Makkal Katch chief Arjun Sampath has cited Dhas’ visit to cry foul about ‘foreign hand’trying to foil industrial development in the region.  “This kind of external instigation is working against all kinds of industrial development, whether it is Kudankulam nuclear power project or international container transhipment terminal or Thoothukudi outer harbour development or against the ONGC project at Kathiramangalam”, he said during his media meet here a couple of days back, while demanding “serious probe into suspicion if these agitations have some devious pattern”. Interestingly, the anti-Sterlite campaigners have also triggered a virulent social media campaign telling the public to participate in their March 24 stir or else face branding as being anti-Tamil and lacking in self-esteem.
  www.deccanchronicle.com

March 18, 2014
- India's No.1 refined copper producer Sesa Sterlite Ltd SESA.NS will shut its smelter for 22 days starting April 26, two company sources said on Tuesday, in what would be the first maintenance closure in four years and cut supplies to top buyer China.Sesa Sterlite, a unit of billionaire Anil Agarwal-controlled Vedanta Resources Plc, produces 30,000 tonnes of refined copper per month and exports half of that to China."We were to close the plant last year for maintenance but could not because of the forced shutdown on environmental grounds," one of the sources said, referring to a closure of more than two months from March 30 on complaints of emissions.The shutdown next month could help support global copper prices, which fell to three-and-a-half-year lows last week on fears that a domestic bond default in top consumer China could cause copper financing deals to unravel.It will help rival producer Hindalco Industries raise sales. The shutdown was confirmed by a second source. Both sources declined to be named because they are not authorised to talk to media.The closure might also lead to metal from China coming to India, with a group of large Chinese copper smelters planning to jointly boost shipments in the coming months to cope with low prices at home.P Ramnath, head of Sesa Sterlite's copper business, declined to comment on the planned shutdown but said falling prices were not an issue for the company as its sales were hedged.He added that the slowdown in China has not had any impact on exports so far."We're able to export the full quantity, that's not an issue," Ramnath told Reuters by phone from Tamil Nadu, where the plant is based."Nobody has approached us to cancel any contract or anything."Sesa Sterlite's smelter closure last year had created a shortage for Indian cable makers such as Finolex Cables Ltd and Precision Wires India Ltd and raised imports. An environmental court later allowed the plant to be restarted.


June 17, 2013 - The Sterlite Copper Smelter unit in Tuticorin has resumed operations after the National Green Tribunal's (NGT) expert panel gave a green signal.  The panel members conducted its second phase of inspection on Sunday and checked if the pollution monitoring equipment at the unit was working properly. Later, they gave the green signal for the operation of the plant and the oxygen plant of the unit was started around 6 pm.  "Full-fledged working of the plant is expected to commence in a few days, maximum one week, when production would start," officials said.  The team, comprising IIT Professors Sai, Liji Philip, Member-Secretary of Central Pollution control board Kamyotra, and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) Member-Secretary Balaji, would conduct one more phase of inspection and a report would be submitted to NGT and the Supreme Court after that. 
Officials said the team is expected to stay during the unit's running to see if there is any impact on the environment.  The plant was shut down over two months ago on an order of the TNPCB over complaints that it was emitting toxic sulphur dioxide. The NGT then set aside the TNPCB order and allowed Sterlite Industries Ltd to resume operation of its copper smelting unit. It had also ordered constitution of the four-member expert panel to supervise the plant's operations.  The TNPCB then moved the Supreme Court seeking quashing of the green panel's order but the apex court refused to stay the NGT order allowing Sterlite Industries Ltd to resume operation of its smelting plant in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin district under an expert committee's supervision.

March 24, 2013
- Villagers living close to Sterlite Copper India limited (SCIL) in Thoothukudi complained of breathing difficulty, vomiting and eye irritation, giving rise to suspicion of a sulphur dioxide leak from the copper smelting plant on Saturday.  The symptoms lasted for about two hours from 5.30 am, according to people  of Meelavittan,  Shanmugapuram, Thoothukudi old bus stand area, Lion’s to­wn ar­ea, Muniyasamipuram and Madathupatti.  Similar symptoms were experienced by patients and doctors of  the Thoothukudi Government Medical College Hospital.  Thoothukudi district collector Asish Kumar, said preliminary investigation  by a team of officials led by the DRDO that collected effluent emission data from all  factories in the vicinity, including SCIL, SPIC and government and private thermal power units, suggested that the sulphur dioxide unit at Sterlite Copper India could be the source of the gas leak.  But  only  further investigation could confirm whether the emission was above  permissible limits, he added. SCIL officers, however, denied there was any leak at the plant, which had been closed for maintenance since March 21 and began operation only at 10 am on Saturday.  According to its internal monitoring system, the plant had never surpassed the permissible environmental parameters. Holding the plant responsible, anti-Sterlite activists led by prof Fathima Babu and former CPI, MP, Appadurai held a demonstration outside it, demanding its immediate closure. It is located within 25kms of the ecologically fragile Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, they claimed it was a threat.

December 3, 2010 - Sterlite Industries (India) Limited (“Sterlite”) today announces the completion of the acquisition of the Skorpion Zinc Mine (“Skorpion”) in Namibia from Anglo American plc (“Anglo American”) for a cash consideration of approximately $707 million.  On 10 May 2010, Vedanta announced the acquisition of Anglo American’s Zinc Assets (“Anglo Zinc”) - for a total cash consideration of $1,338 million, on an attributable, debt and cash free basis. Anglo Zinc comprises the 100 per cent owned Skorpion mine in Namibia, the 100 per cent owned Lisheen mine in Ireland and the 74 per cent owned Black Mountain Mines, which includes the Black Mountain mine and Gamsberg project in South Africa.  Skorpion has been acquired by a subsidiary of Sterlite Infra Limited, itself a wholly owned subsidiary of Sterlite. It was intended that the acquisition of Anglo Zinc would be undertaken by Hindustan Zinc Limited (“HZL”), a subsidiary of Sterlite, subject to approval from the Indian Government as shareholder, which was not received within the contractual completion timeline for Skorpion. The acquisitions of the Lisheen mine and Black Mountain Mines are expected to be completed on schedule Anglo Zinc is an excellent operational and strategic fit with our existing business and will create significant long term value for shareholders. This acquisition will consolidate our position as the world’s largest integrated zinc - lead producer with significant reserves and resources of 478 million tonnes.  Commenting on the transaction, Anil Agarwal, Chairman said: "We are delighted to have completed the first phase of the acquisition of Anglo Zinc assets. Skorpion Zinc Mine is a high quality zinc asset and will complement our existing portfolio. We look forward to working with Skorpion’s team and remain committed to maintaining the highest standards of sustainability and exploring growth opportunities.”

October 14, 2010 - The trouble for metal giant Sterlite at its copper plant in Thoothukudi compounded on Wednesday after a contract worker died of acid burn injuries on Wednesday morning.  S. Muthukrishnan, 24, driver of a tanker lorry that carried sulphuric acid from the harbour to the Sterlite Industries’ copper smelter unit, suffered acid burns inside the plant premises on September 18.   According to officials at the Sipcot police station, Muthukrishnan was standing on the tanker while the acid was being unloaded. They said he accidentally fell on the acid that had spilled on the ground, suffering fatal injuries.  Environmental activists and politicians, including CPI state assistant secretary C. Mahendran, who have been campaigning against the Sterlite unit over allegations of damaging local environment, raked up the issue leading to a controversy on Wednesday, which was accentuated by a seemingly hasty post-mortem analysis done early in the morning.  Relatives of the worker refused to receive the body from the medical college hospital there and staged a protest, which was withdrawn only after senior police officials who rushed to the spot promised to conduct a proper inquiry and take action against anyone found responsible.   Sterlite was in the news recently after the Madras High Court came down on it for polluting the environment and directed it to close the plant, an order that was stayed by the Supreme Court.  However, despite the legal breather, the company is still facing the ire of activists and local public who have continued their campaign against the copper smelting unit.

September 30, 2010 - Sterlite Industries, part of the London-based Vedanta Resources, has approached the Supreme Court to stay the Madras High Court's order closing its copper smelter plant in Tuticorin with immediate effect.  Also, the company has filed a review petition in the High Court seeking three weeks time to implement its order, saying the plant producing sulphuric and phosphoric acid cannot be shut down instantly.  'The company has filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court to stay the High Court's closure order. We have also filed a review petition before the High Court to give three weeks time to comply with its closure order,' Iyer Sundar Raj, public relations head, told IANS over phone from Tuticorin.  He reiterated the company's resolve to seek all legal remedies so that the 400,000 tonne per annum (tpa) plant starts functioning as before.  'What is encouraging is the support from employees, general public and others for the continuance of the plant.  Posters have come up in Tuticorin in support of the plant,' said Raj.  Asked whether the National Trust for Clean Environment (NTCE) plans to file a contempt of court petition against Sterlite for operating the plant despite the closure order, NTCE counsel G. Ramapriya told IANS: 'We do not have any such plans.'

September 29, 2010 - Just a month after the Union ministry of environment and forests rejected the proposal to mine Niyamgiri hills for its aluminum refinery in Orissa, Vedanta Resources Plc. has suffered another major setback with the Madras High Court (HC) ordering Sterlite Industries, the group's flagship, to close its copper smelting plant at Thoothukudi for causing air and water pollution.
The HC passed orders based on the writ petitions filed by the National Trust for Clean Environment in 1996. While ordering the immediate closure of the plant that has a capacity of 4 lakh tonnes per annum, the court said the employees working at the unit were entitled for compensation from Sterlite under section 25-FFF of the Industrial Disputes Act. The court directed the Thoothukudi district collector to take immediate steps for the re-employment of workforce of the industry in other organizations, keeping in view their educational, technical qualifications and experience. The court blamed the authorities for not applying their mind while allowing the company to set up the plant. "Courts cannot afford to deal lightly with cases involving pollution of air and water. Those who discharge noxious polluting effluents into streams, river or any other water bodies and into the atmosphere inflicting harm on public health, should be dealt with strictly," observed, a division bench, comprising Justice Elipe Dharma Rao and Justice N Paul Vasantha Kumar, in their 25-page order.
The HC passed the judgement on a batch of writ petitions, including ones from National Trust for Clean Environment and MDMK general secretary Vaiko filed in 1997. The petitioners submitted that the then state and the Centre granted consent for the establishment of the company, ignoring the fact that Goa, Gujarat and Maharashtra had rejected the proposal to set up the smelter in their states. Amid huge public protests, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) gave its clearance to Sterlite in May 1995 to manufacture 234 tonnes of blister copper per day and 638 tonnes of sulphuric acid in the first phase, the petitioners said. Stating that several accidents had occurred due to continuous emission of concentrated sulphur-dioxide, the petitioners prayed for quashing of the environmental clearance given to the company.
The state and the central governments argued that there was no violation of law in granting permission to Sterlite. However, the bench rejected the authorites' contentions and said: "The material on record show that the continuing air pollution being caused by the noxious effluents discharged into the air by Sterlite is having a more devastating effect on the people living in the surroundings."

September 29, 2010 - The closure of Sterlite Industries' Tuticorin smelter plant is likely to result in increased inflow of sulphuric acid from South Korea and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh into Tamil Nadu and Kerala, say industry officials.  The Madras High Court Tuesday ordered immediate closure of the plant for violating various environmental laws and causing pollution.  Sterlite Industries is India's largest non-ferrous metals and mining company and part of London-based Vedanta Resources, promoted by Anil Agarwal.   Industry circles expect the company to appeal against the order, but they also visualise various scenarios and their impact on sulphuric acid and copper prices.  An industry official of a chemicals company said in a scenario of Sterlite operating the plant at a lower capacity or plant closure, the prices of copper in the international market will increase due to the sucking out of Sterlite's capacity.  As a result, there will be an increase in production of by-products like sulphuric acid and the possibility of increased inflows from outside the country and within are high.  "As copper is the main product, overseas companies may increase their output. This would increase the supply of by products like sulphuric acid," the official said.  According to him, the sulphuric acid markets in Tamil Nadu and Kerala will witness increased inflow from overseas as well as from Andhra Pradesh.  "Many units in Tamil Nadu- sulphuric acid as well as fertiliser units- stopped production when Sterlite started production at Tuticorin," he said.  The Tamil Nadu and Kerala market for sulphuric acid is estimated to be in the region of around 1,500 tonne per day (tpd), excluding the demand from fertiliser units.  Industry officials say the current sulphuric acid price ranges around Rs.3,500 per tonne.. Last fiscal, Sterlite Industries produced 1,036,000 tonnes of sulphuric acid. According to the company, the average net realistion last year was Rs.828 a tonne as against Rs.5,091 per tonne during 2008-09.  The industry officials say the fertiliser units that sourced sulphuric acid from Sterlite may have to start producing on their own if the smelter plant is shut down for a long time.

September 28, 2010 - The Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered closing down of Sterlite Industries Copper Smelting Plant at Tuiticorin District.   Sterlite’s Tuiticorin Unit operations include a smelter, refinery, phosphoric acid plant, sulphuric acid plant and copper rod plant.  While the ‘National Trust for Clean Environment’ filed the first writ petition against the granting of environmental clearance to Sterlite Industries in 1996, ten writ petitions were filed subsequently by various political parties and groups.  The common order was delivered by Justice Ellipe Dharmarao on behalf of the Division Bench comprising himself and Justice Paul Vasantha Kumar.
Sterlite’s copper plant was originally proposed to be set up in Gurarat and Goa but due to stiff opposition from the local population was later shifted to Maharashtra. After Sterlite started construction work, the Maharashtra government yielded to public pressure and revoked the license granted to Sterlite.  It was in this background, Sterlite Industries set up its unit in Tuiticorin District in Tamil Nadu, amidst protests by the local population.
Though Rule 5 of the Environment (Protection) Rules 1986, places restriction on the location of industries from ecologically sensitive areas, Sterlite industries was situated well within 25 kms of ecologically sensitive and prohibited area, which aspect the central government should have taken into consideration before giving environmental clearance, said the Bench in its order.  The Bench also pointed out the ‘undue haste’ on the part of governmental authorities in granting permissions and consents to Sterlite.  Taking a leaf out of the Supreme Court’s judgment in Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board vs C. Kenchappa, reported in (2006) 6 SCC 371, the Bench pointed out that right to have a living atmosphere congenial to human existence is a part of the right to life.  
“Those who discharge noxious polluting effluents into streams, river or any other water bodies and to the atmosphere which inflicts harm on the public health at large, should be dealt with strictly” observed the Madras High Court in its 25 page order.   The Bench observed “Courts cannot afford to deal lightly with cases involving pollution of air and water. Those who discharge noxious polluting effluents into streams, river or any other water bodies and to the atmosphere which inflicts harm on the public health at large, should be dealt with strictly”. Noting that the Materials on record show that the continuing air pollution being caused by noxious effluents discharged into the air by Sterlites Company is having a more devastating effect on the people living in the surroundings.The Bench said “It is also seen that there has been unabated pollution by the respondent company which should be stopped at least now, by allowing these writ petitions, so as to protect the mother nature from being tarred”.
The Bench also observed “In any society there is natural tension between interests of individuals and the interest of the group as a whole. There is conflict between what individuals want and what serves their interests and what is needed for the welfare, safety and security of the entire group. Depending on the type of the view that is operative concerning the nature of dispute, the conflict will have to be resolved in total analysis of the pros and cons of the issue. In these circumstances, for the questions that was hovering in our mind that which shall prevail over the other-whether the interest of an individual/ small section society or the interest of the society at large, with no hesitation or second thought, we arrived at the irresistible conclusion that larger interest of the society outweigh the interest/benefit of smaller section of society for the common good of one and all”
Also the Bench directed that employees of Sterlite Industries are entitled for compensation as per the Section 25-FFF of the Industrial Disputes Act and the District Collector, Tuiticorin to take all necessary steps for re-employment of the workforce of to be closed down, Sterlite Industries.  The Bench directed District Collector, Tuticorin to take all necessary and immediate steps for the re-employment of the workforce of the company in some other companies/factories/organizations so as to protect their livelihood, to extend possible, keeping in view of their educational and technical qualifications and also experience in the field.
Advocate and Environmental activist Sundararajan, commenting on the judgment said, the judgment disproves the myth that development and environment cannot go together. Environment cannot be a victim of growth, he added.

Officials of Sterlite Industries were not available for comment.

From Vedanta Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd., India's largest non-ferrous metals and mining company, GEA Bischoff received an order for supply of two wet gas electrostatic precipitators. The precipitators are part of the process gas cleaning plant of a copper smelter in Tuticorin, India. Since 2001 GEA Bischoff has already supplied 9 wet electrostatic precipitators for this smelter.

October 15, 2009 - Vedanta Resources PLC said Thursday its subsidiary, Sterlite Industries (India) Limited (SLT) has expanded the 400 ktpa brownfield copper smelter project at Tuticorin India, together with an associated 160 MW (2x 80 MW) captive power plant.
- The project is expected to be commissioned by mid 2011.
- Post this expansion, the Company will be one of the largest single location custom copper smelters in the world with a total smelting capacity of 800 ktpa.
- The new smelter will utilise the ISA Smelt technology currently used in the existing smelter at Tuticorin.
- The total investment in this project is estimated at around INR2,300 crores [equivalent to $500 million].
- The capital investment includes the cost of the smelter, refinery, the captive power facility and other associated facilities such as sulphuric acid plant and phosphoric acid plant.
- The project will be funded through a mix of debt and internal accruals.

MTPD - Metric Tonne per Day           STPD - Short Ton per Day
MTPA - Metric Tonne per Annum      STPA - Short Ton per Annum
SA - Single Absorption
DA - Double Absorption
 

* Coordinates can be used to locate plant on Google Earth