Sterlite plant Copper of Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu
- June 21, 2022
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN Topics
Sterlite plant Copper of Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu
Subject : Geography
Section: Economic geography
- Sterlite Copper of Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu has become a moral issue after the police ﬁring on protesters resulted in the deaths of 13 people in May 2018 .
Complaints against the plant
- Over some 20 years of plant operation, the company had violated many pollution regulations and faced at least two major allegations of excessive emissions.
- Residents around Sterlite say that when the plant was operating, there would be a release of gas at 3 a.m. every day. They would wake up short of breath and to a foul smell.
- Even cattle were refusing to drink groundwater since it was contaminated by Sterlite eﬄuents. Now, the air is cleaner.
- The business community complains that Sterlite did not employ enough local people and did not give enough contracts for local businessmen. It was a high-handed management that talked down to them.
- Though Sterlite has constructed toilets, water tanks and community centers, it has not invested much in serving the educational or health needs of the local population.
- Sterlite’s product, copper, is a strategic metal.
- Important applications are energy, electrical equipment and electronics.
- Nations are switching more and more to wind and solar. This means new projects and transmission lines. There is a push for electrical vehicles.
- Globally, and in India, copper demand is only set to ramp up. Imports can cause supply bottlenecks. End consumers such as electrical equipment manufacturers sometimes pay a high premium as a result.
- Copper production provides strategic balance and price stability. The shuttering of the Sterlite plant quickly made India, a copper exporter, an importer.
- A copper smelter would serve India well. The only other major smelter in India is Hindalco.
Copper is a soft, malleable, and ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. copper is one of the few metals that occurs in nature in directly usable metallic form (native metals) and is an important non-ferrous base metal having wide industrial applications, ranging from defence, space programme, railways, power cables, mint, telecommunication cables, etc. India is not self-sufficient in the production of copper ore. In addition to domestic production of ore and concentrates, India imports copper concentrates for its smelters. The domestic demand for copper and its alloys is met through domestic production, recycling of scrap and by imports. Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL), a Public Sector Undertaking, is the only integrated company in the country that is involved in mining & beneficiation of ore and is engaged in smelting, refining and casting of refined copper. Hindalco Industries Ltd and Vedanta Limited are the major copper producers in the Private Sector that mainly rely on imported copper concentrates. These companies own copper mines in other countries.
The total reserves/resources of copper ore as on 1.4.2015 as per NMI database based on UNFC system are estimated at 1.51 billion tonnes. Of these, 207.77 million tonnes (13.74%) fall under ‘reserves category’ while the balance 1.30 billion tonnes (86.25%) are ‘remaining resources’ category. Gradewise there are no reserves with 1.85% or more copper grade. However, 203.83 million tonnes reserves fall under 1% to below 1.85% Cu grade. Of the total ore resources 8.28 million tonnes (0.55%) comprise ore containing 1.85% Cu or more and 657.92 million tonnes (43.53%) resources fall under 1% to below 1.85% Cu grade. The total metal content out of the total copper resources is 12.16 million tonnes of which 2.73 million tonnes constitute reserves. Largest reserves/resources of copper ore to a tune of 813 million tonnes (53.81%) are in the state of Rajasthan followed by Jharkhand with 295 million tonnes (19.54%) and Madhya Pradesh with 283 million tonnes (18.75%). Copper reserves/ resources in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Odisha, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand and West Bengal accounted for remaining 7.9% of the total all India resources
|Malanjkhand Mine||Madhya Pradesh|
|Kendadih Mine, Ghatsila||Jharkhand|
Pollution from copper smelters
- Copper smelting plants separate elemental copper from copper concentrates through multiple sulphide oxidizing stages
- Emissions from primary copper smelters are principally particulate matter and sulfur oxides (SOx). Emissions are generated from the roasters, smelting furnaces, and converters. Fugitive emissions are generated during material handling operations. Roasters, smelting furnaces, and converters are sources of both particulate matter and SOx.
- Copper and iron oxides are the primary constituents of the particulate matter, but other oxides, such as arsenic, antimony, cadmium, lead, mercury, and zinc, may also be present, along with metallic sulfates and sulfuric acid mist. Fuel combustion products also contribute to the particulate emissions from multiple hearth roasters and reverberatory furnaces.
An opportunity: Way forward
- While the economic and national interest case for a copper smelter is proven, the trust deficit between Vedanta and the people of Thoothukudi needs to be bridged if the smelter has to restart.
- The framework for a solution could focus on adherence to norms and creating harmony between the company, government and the people.
- Sterlite presents an opportunity for the people of Thoothukudi to move forward in national and local economic interest.
- It is an opportunity for a corporate group to act responsibly and take people along while conducting its business.