SC extends stay on Sterlite plant closure case

SC extends stay on Sterlite plant closure case

New Delhi: Sterlite Industries, a unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources, can keep its copper smelter in India running for now after India’s Supreme Court extended a stay on its closure over environmental concerns.

India’s top court said in a statement on Monday it had extended its 1 October stay on an order of the Madras High Court which had told Sterlite to close its Tuticorin smelter, the world’s ninth-largest.

Sterlite is appealing the closure order and the case is now likely to be heard in the second week of December, the court’s order said.

Sterlite, India’s largest copper cathodes maker, has faced a lengthy legal battle over environmental concerns with petitions -- the first of which were filed in 1996 -- that challenge its environmental clearances.

The Supreme Court asked two respondents to Sterlite’s petition -- the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute -- to file status reports within four weeks.

Sterlite says the plant has abided by all environmental requirements and has obtained all the approvals needed from India authorities.

Parent company Vedanta is currently facing a series of hurdles in India, with its plans to mine bauxite in an eastern state rejected by the government and delays to its proposed purchase of a stake in Cairn India.

Sterlite produced 334,174 tonnes of cathodes in the year to March 2010, mostly for the domestic market where a rapidly growing economy uses copper in power cables and infrastructure.

Shares of Sterlite ended down 1.12 percent at 176.55 rupees, after seeing an intraday low of 173.5 rupees while the Sensex index <.BSESN> ended slightly up at 20,168.89 points.