A molten mixture of lead and bronze pours from a cauldron into moulds in the foundry at a copper mining and smelting complex (Photographer: Oliver Bunic/Bloomberg)

Vedanta Gets Boost in Plan to Double Copper Capacity in India

(Bloomberg) -- Vedanta Ltd.’s plan to double capacity at its copper plant in southern India, which has faced years of environmental hurdles, has finally received approval.

“We had a few regulatory and legal matters that we had to close out, which we have effectively completed up to now,” Chief Executive Officer Tom Albanese said on a call after the company reported fourth-quarter results. “We hope to be in a position in a couple of months time where we can inform the market of that project going ahead.”

Vedanta is ramping up its plant capacities as India’s biggest base-metals producer bets on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to boost spending on the country’s infrastructure and provide power to all households. India’s annual copper consumption is expected to almost triple to 2 million metric tons in the next decade, according to Hindalco Industries Ltd.

The company wants to double capacity at the plant Tuticorin, in the state of Tamil Nadu, to 800,000 tons a year, Albanese said. The firm has set aside optional capital expenditure to allow it to cover the expansion, it said in a presentation.

“We are now considering the pathway in terms of development partners, the engineers that we will be working with,” Albanese said. “We will be looking at where will be the future sourcing of concentrate from a global stage, and looking at the demand profile for future copper demand, particularly for cathode and copper rods in India.”

Vedanta earlier said it swung to a fourth-quarter profit after benefiting from a rally in prices and a special dividend announced by its zinc arm.