* Further hearing only after expert report on smelter's
* Smelter yet to reopen as expert panel yet to meet - source
NEW DELHI, June 10 India's top copper smelter
can reopen as scheduled and operate until at least the second
week of July, when an expert panel will submit a report on the
safety and environmental aspects of its operations, a Supreme
Court judge said.
The smelter, run by Sterlite Industries, a unit of
London-listed Vedanta, was shut on March 30 after nearby
residents complained of emissions that led to breathing
The reopening of the plant, along with the end of a 35-day
long shutdown of Hindalco Industries Ltd's Birla
smelter, will gradually ease a supply shortage that has boosted
imports and prices for the metal.
A further hearing will take place after the panel of experts
submits its report, Justice Gyan Sudha Misra said.
The local pollution board in southern Tamil Nadu state,
which had originally ordered the smelter to shut at the end of
March, took the case to the top court after the country's
fast-track environmental court ruled against it.
The environmental court, the National Green Tribunal, said
on May 31 the plant could reopen within a week in the presence
of the expert panel.
The plant is yet to reopen as the expert panel has not met
yet, a Sterlite source told Reuters on Monday.
"People are still waiting to see when they actually
restart," said a Singapore-based physical trader. "The legal
issue might be for the time being behind them, but now they have
to start the plant, stabilise it, get the cathodes going into
the rod plant."
Sterlite has said that it would take about five days to ramp
up the plant to full capacity after it restarts.
The closure of the plant, which produces 30,000 tonnes of
refined copper a month, or more than half of India's total
production, has put cable makers such as Finolex Cables Ltd
and Precision Wires India Ltd in a tight
Vedanta has been exporting 4,000 tonnes of refined copper a
month from Dubai to help some of Sterlite's customers offset the