May 31, 2013 / 10:17 AM / 4 years ago

India court allows top copper smelter to resume production

2 Min Read

NEW DELHI, May 31 (Reuters) - India's largest copper smelter can restart within a week, after a court gave a conditional go-ahead, ending a two-month-long shutdown that has squeezed local supply and boosted imports.

The Sterlite Industries plant, which meets half of India's copper demand, was closed on March 30 after residents complained of emissions that led to breathing problems.

Sterlite can resume operations within a week in the presence of a court-appointed committee, said Justice Swatanter Kumar of the National Green Tribunal, a special fast-track environmental court, in an interim order.

Kumar said a final order on the case would be issued after July 10.

The smelter's closure tightened supply of refined copper, driving up prices for Indian consumers. With the smelter out of action, other smelters in Asia were able to hike processing fees for copper concentrates, the raw material they refine.

The plant, which produces 30,000 tonnes of refined copper a month and sends nearly half of that to China, will take about five days to ramp up to full capacity, company executives said.

"Certain conditions have to be met and it can restart," Justice Kumar said.

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