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Sterlite’s Tuticorin plant closure spiked sulphuric acid prices 4-fold in 6 months, says CEO P Ramnath

Sterlite’s Tuticorin plant closure spiked
sulphuric acid prices 4-fold in 6 months, says CEO P
Ramnath

Sterlite Copper’s Tuticorin plant closure has led to a spike in
prices of phosphoric and sulphuric acids, adversely affecting
the downstream chemical and fertilisers industry, a top company
official said. The Vedanta-owned company’s unit in Tamil Nadu
was closed in May this year following a government order. “In
the last six-months, prices of sulphuric acid have shot up from
Rs 3000/tonne to Rs 12,000/tonne, a rise of 300 per cent (four
fold), and a tonne of phosphoric acid costs Rs 53,000 as
compared to Rs 43,000 a tonne six month earlier, a rise of 23
per cent,” Sterlite Copper CEO P Ramnath said.

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“The plant met 80-90 per cent of demand for sulphuric acid in
the country and 15 per cent of the phosphoric acid demand. The
closure of our plant has led to a sharp surge in demand,
thereby driving up prices,” Ramnath added. He said the 4,00,000
tonne per annum plant, which met over 30 per cent of the of
India’s copper demand, produced sulphuric and phosphoric acids
as a by-product which are key raw material for manufacturing of
fertiliser. The copper smelter was producing 1.2 million tonne
(MT) of sulphuric acid per annum, half of this was sold on a
commercial basis; and 2,30,000 tonne of phosphoric acid every
year, Ramnath said.

The sharp rise in prices will surely affect the prices of
fertilisers which will further affect the farmers as they are
the primary consumers of fertilisers, he noted. The government
has set a target of doubling the farmers’ income, but if the
input cost remains high it will affect the profit margin,
Ramnath said. He said that the plant’s closure is also hurting
industries that use copper for manufacturing a wide variety of
products. “Due to the shutdown in the last six months… import
of the metal has seen a surge. While premium on copper has gone
up by 10-15 per cent, the import of the metal has shot up 2.5
times to nearly 30,000 tonne per month,” he said. The Tamil
Nadu government had in May ordered permanent closure of
Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper unit in the state after 13 people,
among protesters demanding its shutdown on environmental
concerns, were killed in police firing.

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