Vedanta sells copper concentrate from stockpiles at shuttered India smelter
NEW DELHI/SHANGHAI, Nov 16 (Reuters) - India's Vedanta Ltd
has been selling copper concentrate on the spot market
from stockpiles at its Sterlite smelter, a company official
said, after the facility was forced to stop operating earlier
this year amid pollution concerns.
The company is disposing of around 70,000 tonnes of copper
concentrate that have been lying unused since the closure of the
plant, the official told Reuters on Thursday. He declined to be
identified, saying it was against company policy.
The Tamil Nadu state disconnected the smelter's power supply
in May following anti-pollution protests that turned violent and
culminated in the police opening fire, killing 13 protesters.
The company has denied that the plant, India's second
biggest copper smelter located in the port city of Thoothukudi,
pollutes the area.
The closure of the plant has disrupted Asia's copper market.
But traders expect it to restart in 2019, saying the selldown of
stockpiles was likely to be because the company is looking to
raise cash and square its books before year-end rather than a
sign the facility would not reopen.
"A few weeks we had got some enquiries (from Vedanta),"
Birla Copper CEO J. C. Laddha told Reuters.
"If they are selling and it makes sense for us commercially,
we would definitely be interested."
Spot treatment and refining charges (TC/RCS), which miners
pay smelters to process their metal, have moved to two-year
highs at $91.50 and 9.2 cents according to Asian Metal, up by a
quarter from five-year lows touched in April.
That is higher than benchmark terms for next year that were
agreed this week. Chinese copper smelter Jiangxi Copper
and miner Antofagasta agreed 2019 copper
treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) at $80.80 a tonne and
8.08 cents a pound, three sources familiar with the matter said.
(Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj in NEW DELHI, Tom Daly in
SHANGHAI and Melanie Burton in MELBOURNE; Editing by Joseph
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