Vedanta to sell its closed copper smelter after deadly protest

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Vedanta has offered to sell the copper smelter complex to Tamil Nadu

NEW DELHI:

Indian oil-metals conglomerate Vedanta Ltd on Monday offered to sell a copper smelter complex in Tamil Nadu that was closed four years ago after police opened fire during protests that left 13 people dead.

Potential buyers have until July 4 to submit expressions of interest, the company said, without giving financial details.

Vedanta’s 400,000 tonne-per-year copper smelter in the port city of Thoothukudi was shut down in Tamil Nadu in May 2018, a week after deadly protests demanding the plant be shut down over alleged pollution.

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The incident, in which 12 protesters were shot dead and one died from other injuries, was condemned by a United Nations human rights expert working group for “the excessive and disproportionate lethal force by the police”.

Vedanta, which has repeatedly denied pollution allegations from the smelter, challenged the decision by the state of Tamil Nadu to permanently close the smelter in the Supreme Court. The smelter was operated by its Sterlite Copper unit.

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It is unclear when the Supreme Court will hear the case.

“Interested and financially competent parties should submit an expression of interest with company profile and other relevant identifying information no later than 6 p.m., July 4, 2022,” Vedanta said in a news release. Monday newspaper.

The company, controlled by billionaire Anil Agarwal, said in March 2021 that it was seeking a state government partner to set up a new 100 billion rupee ($1.37 billion) copper smelter.

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The proposed 500,000 tonne-per-year copper smelter could employ up to 10,000 people, Vedanta said, adding that it was looking for a 1,000-acre site near a port. It is not immediately clear whether the proposal has generated any interest.

Shares of Vedanta fell 10% in early trading on Monday to Rs 237.60 ($3.05), the lowest level in over a year.

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