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Sterlite Copper - The Journey Through Controversies

By Author: Alanna Alberto
Total Articles: 4

Sterlite Industries is controlled by Vedanta Resources, a metals and mining conglomerate. It is located in Mumbai, India. It was initially launched in India long ago even prior to the establishment and subsequent listing of Vedanta Resources on the LSE.

The company has two main objectives which includes the mining of copper in Tuticorin, India and production of copper products. The plant also includes a refinery, a phosphoric acid and sulphuric acid plant. The company also takes care of mining of bauxite, zinc ore and the production of various aluminum products as well as the manufacture of zinc ingots and lead ingots. Sterlite Copper represents the Copper Unit of the Sesa Sterlite Limited. Sterlite Copper Unit operates a 400,000 Metric Tonnes Per Annum(MTPA) Copper Smelter with associates facilities such as Refinery and Copper Rod Plant, Sulphuric Acid plant of more 12,00,000 MTPA and a Phosphoric Acid of 220,000 MTPA at Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu. Sterlite Copper also operates a 160 MW coal based power plant in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu. Sterlite Copper has two units in Silvassa in the Union Territory of Daman & Diu where it operates a Copper Refinery and two Copper Rods Plants one each in Chinchpada and Piparia.

The company’s main operating subsidiaries include Hindustan Zinc Limited for its zinc and lead operations; Copper Mines of Tasmania Pty Limited for its copper operations in Australia; and Bharat Aluminium Company Limited for its aluminium operations. It also operates one copper mine in Australia.

On February 23, 2001, Sterlite bought 51% stake in Bharat Aluminium Co. from the government of India by 118.5 million dollars. In September 2013, SESA Goa, Sterlite Industries and Vedanta Aluminium all merged to form Sesa Sterlite Limited.

The Tuticorin Copper Smelting plant has been long-opposed by the local residents for polluting their environment as well as causing a range of health problems and has been subject to several closing of the plants, on grounds of violating environmental norms.

The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and the TNPCB have found evidence that Sterlite contaminated the groundwater, air and soil with its effluents and also violated the standards of operation.

In 2010, the Madras High Court had ordered a shut down of the same plant, for violating environmental regulations which was subsequently challenged in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, in April, 2013 struck down the Madras high court’s order and instead fined Sterlite Rs 100 crore for polluting the environment and for operating the plant without a renewal of the consents by TNPCB (Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board). Post a favorable ruling by the National Green Tribunal, the plant reopened.

In the meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board on March, 2013 re-ordered a closure of the Tuticorin copper smelting plant because of leakage of gas, leading to nausea and skin irritation among local inhabitants.

The group has steadfastly denied accusations of any wrongdoing, throughout even though having being accused many times.
In March and April 2018, there were renewed mass-protests against the company's plans of setting up a second smelting complex and to demand shutdown of it's Thoothukudi and Tuticorin smelting plants, on grounds of violating environmental regulations.

Sterlite copper represents Tuticorin copper, power operation and silvassa copper operations. Sterlite Copper operates refinery and copper smelter plant, Sulphuric Acid plant of more 12,00,000 MTPA and a Phosphoric Acid of 220,000 MTPA at Thoothukudi, Tamilnadu

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