| NEW DELHI, March 18
NEW DELHI, March 18 India's No.1 refined copper
producer Sesa Sterlite Ltd will shut its smelter for
22 days starting April 26, two company sources said on Tuesday,
in what would be the first maintenance closure in four years and
cut supplies to top buyer China.
Sesa Sterlite, a unit of billionaire Anil Agarwal-controlled
Vedanta Resources Plc, produces 30,000 tonnes of refined
copper per month and exports half of that to China.
"We were to close the plant last year for maintenance but
could not because of the forced shutdown on environmental
grounds," one of the sources said, referring to a closure of
more than two months from March 30 on complaints of emissions.
The shutdown next month could help support global copper
prices, which fell to three-and-a-half-year lows last
week on fears that a domestic bond default in top consumer China
could cause copper financing deals to unravel.
It will help rival producer Hindalco Industries
raise sales. The shutdown was confirmed by a second source. Both
sources declined to be named because they are not authorised to
talk to media.
The closure might also lead to metal from China coming to
India, with a group of large Chinese copper smelters planning to
jointly boost shipments in the coming months to cope with low
prices at home.
P Ramnath, head of Sesa Sterlite's copper business, declined
to comment on the planned shutdown but said falling prices were
not an issue for the company as its sales were hedged.
He added that the slowdown in China has not had any impact
on exports so far.
"We're able to export the full quantity, that's not an
issue," Ramnath told Reuters by phone from the southern state of
Tamil Nadu, where the plant is based.
"Nobody has approached us to cancel any contract or
Sesa Sterlite's smelter closure last year had created a
shortage for Indian cable makers such as Finolex Cables Ltd
and Precision Wires India Ltd and raised
imports. An environmental court later allowed the plant to be