March 27, 2018 / 10:21 AM / a year ago

Vedanta to shut copper smelter in India for about 15 days

(Reuters) - Vedanta Resources Plc said on Tuesday its India unit Vedanta Ltd’s copper smelting operations at Thootukudi, in Tamil Nadu, will be closed for about 15 days as part of a maintenance shutdown.

The news of the maintenance activity, which Vedanta said was earlier scheduled for April, comes amid local media reports that thousands had taken to the streets and shut shops in Thootukudi to protest against the expansion of the smelter.

The refining and copper rod manufacturing operations would continue as usual at the smelter, Vedanta said in a statement. The company did not return calls from Reuters seeking further comment.

The copper smelter, run by Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper unit, is one of the India’s biggest and has been a target of protesters, who call it a major source of pollution and a risk to fisheries.

The plant was shut for more than two months in 2013 after residents complained about emissions. An environmental court later ruled the smelter could operate, but should take extra steps to prevent pollution.

Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza

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