Vedanta Ltd., Indian subsidiary of Vedanta Resources PLC, is once again in the news for a minor leak that was reported in one of its smelters at its Madurai facility. The leak was said to be in the storage plant that is used to store sulphuric acid, a by-product of the process of refining copper, but also a raw material in the production of chemicals and fertilizers. Sandeep Nanduri, the top administrative official in Madurai district issued a statement on Sunday, saying “A leakage was observed in the sulphuric acid storage plant. It doesn’t look problematic, but we have decided to evacuate the storage tomorrow as a safety precaution.”
The company has been in the headlines following heated protests by residents of the area, and from other parts in Tamil Nadu state who marched against the plant in May, this year, in an attempt to force the plant to shutdown. Citing environmental concerns and pollution complaints, protesters marched up to the plant on the 22nd of May, only to be fired at by police who attempted to disperse the protesters. Following this event, the state government of Tamil Nadu ordered a permanent shutdown of the plant.
While Vedanta Resources PLC was not immediately available for comment, the copper smelter accounted for more than one-third of all the refined copper produced in the country. It’s shutdown means that India will have to rely on imports of copper to meet market demand, something that it is already doing, but will continue to see a rise of imports to be able to do so in this current phase of development.