India's Sterlite halts sulphuric acid exports on smelter shutdown

05 April 2013 12:11  [Source: ICIS news]

NAGOYA (ICIS)--Sterlite Industries India Ltd has temporarily halted exports of sulphuric acid as its copper smelter in Tamil Nadu has been shut since 30 March, market sources said on Friday.

The smelter produces over 580,000 tonnes/year of sulphuric acid as a by-product of its metal processing, according to ICIS.

Local authorities have ordered the shutdown of the smelter in end-March because of an alleged sulphur dioxide leak, according to local press reports.

Sterlite was heard to have declared force majeure on copper and copper concentrates production following the shutdown of the smelter.

Two vessels are currently moored at the smelter's port in Tuticorin, ready to load sulphuric acid cargoes bound for Turkey and Indonesia. Sterlite has declared a force majeure on the two shipments, market sources said.

The vessels were likely to be forced to pay demurrage until production is restored at the smelter, or the shipments may be cancelled altogether.

Sulphuric acid market participants said that the shutdown may offer opportunities for spot sales if the smelter remains down for a prolonged time.

Sterlite, which is a major sulphuric acid producer in India, said that repairs had been completed and that the company had received government approval for a restart on 2 April in a statement posted on the company's website. A specific restart date for the smelter was not announced, however.

Market participants expected the smelter to remain off line for at least another 10 days. The outage was heard to have resulted in a 30,000-tonne acid production shortfall so far.

By: Gabriela Wheeler
+65 6789 8828

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