* Vedanta exporting 4,000 tonnes/month from Dubai
* Next hearing on Sterlite copper plant closure on May 22
* Vedanta says no significant cost from smelter shutdown
By Krishna N Das
NEW DELHI, May 16 Vedanta Resources Plc
is exporting 4,000 tonnes of refined copper a month from Dubai
to customers of India's Sterlite Industries, whose smelter will
stay shut until at least May 22 when a court resumes hearing a
case over its closure.
The plant, run by Vedanta unit Sterlite Industries
, meets half of India's copper demand. The closure of
the facility, which produces 30,000 tonnes of refined copper a
month and exports nearly half of that to China, has tightened
supply and driven up prices.
The smelter was closed on March 30 after residents
complained of emissions that led to breathing problems.
The shutdown has led to a doubling of copper imports to
about 8,000 tonnes per month from countries like Russia, P.
Ramnath, chief executive of Sterlite Copper, told Reuters.
"Because of the shutdown, the gap has increased between demand
and supply, which has basically resulted in premiums going up,"
metals trader Ushdev International's Managing Director
Ashwin Rathi told Reuters last Friday. "I don't think the
Sterlite issue would be resolved any time soon."
Ramnath said that Vedanta's unit Fujairah Gold Fze had been
exporting to India since April to help Sterlite's customers cope
with the shortage.
London-listed resources conglomerate Vedanta, controlled by
billionaire Anil Agarwal, reported a 21 percent rise in
full-year earnings and said it was confident operations would
resume at the Sterlite smelter.
Vedanta did not book an impairment on the asset and said it
was in "full state of preparedness" to restart the smelter and
that the cost of shutdown was "not very significant."
Justice Swatanter Kumar of the National Green Tribunal, the
fast-track court hearing the case, on Thursday asked the
pollution control board of Tamil Nadu state to provide data on
emissions from the plant before the next hearing.
No decision is expected that day as the court said it will
have to hear the arguments of more parties.