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Sustainability Report

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Copper Smelter Plant in Thoothukudi, Tamilnadu

Know The Truth

Know The Truth

The below FAQ’s intend to provide detailed explanation on the concerns raised on Sterlite Copper operations.

FACT: The data suggests that the rate of cancer in the Thoothukudi is below the state average and hence does not rank first. Further, it is baseless to link that Sterlite’s operations can cause Cancer.

As per the Crude Incidence Rate (CIR) on cancer published by Department of Health, Government of Tamilnadu in the year 2014, Thoothukudi ranks 14 among male and ranks 25 among female out of 32 districts in Tamilnadu. Chennai, Kanchipuram, Coimbatore, Kanyakumari, Tiruvallur, Cuddalur are the top six districts predominant with cancer cases. This is also proved in the recent Policy Disclosure Note -2017, released by the Health Department, Government of Tamilnadu.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has not classified sulfur dioxide as a human carcinogenic. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tf.asp?id=252&tid=46

FACT: Sterlite Copper has been a Zero Liquid Discharge plant since the inception of the plant in 1995. All wastewater is treated in Effluent Treatment Plant followed by Reverse Osmosis Plant. The entire treated water is then recycled back into operations, and there is no discharge of any water to the sea. Hence our operations do not impact marine life. This Zero Discharge nature of our operations has been endorsed by the NEERI Committee in 2011. The committee, along with the petitioners – Mr. Vaiko (along with Nityanand Jayaraman), CPI, National Trust for Clean Environment - visited the plant to confirm the Zero Liquid Discharge nature of our operations.

Further, a bio-diversity study conducted in the 10 km radius of Sterlite Copper, Thoothukudi by Forest Research Institute, Dehradun has also confirmed that our operations do not have an impact on the local marine life.

This allegation has been adequately handled and deliberated in depth by Honorable Supreme Court, and a clear verdict was pronounced way back in 2013, putting all these allegations to rest.

FACT: As per the TNPCB consent condition, 2013, Sterlite was supposed to develop 43 Ha of greenbelt in and around the plant. The operations have developed 43 Ha of greenbelt and are compliant with the CTO condition. We have also planted an additional 13 Ha of greenbelt in our township, which is located in close proximity to the plant. It must be noted that TNPCB has not cited the lack of greenbelt as a reason for withdrawing the consent in 2018.

The presence of sufficient green belt at Sterlite Copper has been verified by NEERI and TNPCB.

FACT: Sterlite Copper is located in SIPCOT industrial complex wherein other red category chemical industries are located. Sterlite Copper is Zero Liquid Discharge Company and does not affect the marine ecosystem in any manner. Further, the current EIA rules, 2006 stipulate a distance of 10km from eco-sensitive areas, which is reduced from 25 Kms stated previously.

Additionally, Gulf of Mannar is not yet notified as National Marine Park as per Environmental Protection Act or as per Wildlife Protection Act. It was only intended to declare as National Marine Park, but till date, it is not notified. This matter was debated in detail in the Hon’ble Supreme Court (Case: Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd, Etc, Etc Versus Union of India & Ors. Etc Etc) and both State Government and Central Government accepted that it is not yet notified as National Marine Park.

FACT: 3070 (70%) of our employees are from Tamilnadu of which 2150 are from Thoothukudi.

FACT: As stated earlier Sterlite Copper is zero liquid discharge company from the date of inception. The solid wastes from effluent treatment plants are disposed in a Secured Land Fill designed as per CPCB guidelines. Other solid wastes, such as copper slag and gypsum which are high volume and low effect wastes, are being utilized for sustainable applications such as cement, road building and shot blasting applications. The slag is particularly tested for its non-leachable, non-toxic characteristics from reputed Government institutes of the country and accordingly put to use for sustainable applications such as landfilling, road construction, use in the cement industry, and sand-blasting. 100% of the generated copper slag is being utilized for the above-stated applications.

The water samples from the piezometric bore-wells / dug wells are being checked by Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board on monthly basis inside the plant premises and in the nearby villages. If Sterlite Copper were polluting the groundwater, we would expect to see evidence of marker pollutants like copper, zinc and arsenic. The samples do not reveal the presence of these marker pollutants. It can thus be concluded that Sterlite's operation are not polluting the groundwater. This has also been confirmed in NEERI's report, "Inspection of M/s Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd - Assessment of Environmental Pollution Status" in 2011, which was submitted to the Honorable Supreme Court of India.

Pollution database of Tamil Nadu http://tnenvis.nic.in/Water%20Pollution%2023-04-2014%20final.pdf ranks Thoothukudi (8% contamination) at 23rd place in the state as against the Dharmapuri district (88% contamination) with regard to groundwater contamination in Tamil Nadu. This allegation has been further adequately handled and deliberated in depth by Honorable Supreme Court, and a clear verdict stating that Sterlite Copper is not contaminating the groundwater has been pronounced in 2013.

FACT: Based on the rainfall data received from the National Meteorological Department, Chennai the annual average rainfall before Sterlite operations started was 569 mm (from 1990 to 1996). However, annual average rainfall after Sterlite operations commencement is 749 mm (1997 to 2015), which shows that there is a 32% increase in rainfall. Also, on 14th March 2018, Thoothukudi recorded highest ever rainfall in last 63 years.

Hon’ble Supreme Court has observed from the earlier NEERI reports (1998, 2005) that there were certain deviations in some parameters but also observes that it does not warrant a conclusion that the plant of the appellant will not be able to take remedial steps to improve the environment. Subsequently, the company undertook remedial measures as per TNPCB recommendation to eliminate the possibility of any such deviations, and since then all the parameters have been regularly monitored by authorities and found to be within prescribed norms.

In addition to the above, for the period between 1999 - 2005 and 2008 - 2013, the plant was operated under a deemed consent. As per Water Act 1972, if the consent is not renewed by any Pollution Control Board after the application, it will be a deemed consent. In those years, TNPCB did not renew the consent within the stipulated time, despite having applied and paid fees for renewal well on time. During this period of operating under a deemed consent, all inspections, air and water sampling were duly carried out by the TNPCB and found to be within prescribed limits. Though the consent was renewed later, Hon’ble Supreme court cited this period as a concern and hence asked us to deposit INR 100 crores to the District Collector to carry out remedial action in case of any environmental damage. So far this fund has not been utilised for any pollution abatement measures, which clearly indicates that there is no such concerns as feared and the interest amount has only been utilized for community welfare measures.

FACT: SIPCOT has allotted 324.5 acres of land to Vedanta Limited in the SIPCOT phase-II area in Therkkuveerapandiyapuram village in Ottapidaram Taluk, Thoothukudi District. These lands were notified as industrial land vide GO MS. No.76 (MIG2) dated 14.06.2005 under the Tamilnadu Industrial Land Acquisition Act-1997. For these lands, the Environmental Clearance has been obtained by Sterlite.

FFACT: The levels of SO2 recorded in Cuddalore District is the highest in the state. There are multiple sources of SO2 pollution in Thoothukudi. In addition to SO2 pollution generated by vehicles, the city is also home to 6 power plants, which generate ~4000 MW of power. Of this, Sterlite only generates 160 MW of power.

Sterlite’s SO2 emissions which are within the prescribed norms constitute to only 2.6% of the total industry based emissions in Thoothukudi.

FACT: During Copper smelting operations, the copper concentrate is smelted at 1200 Deg C, and the iron content in the copper ore is separated out in the form of granulated iron silicate. At this very high temperature, all the organic and inorganic compounds get mineralized and produce a solid mass which is highly stable and non-leachable in normal conditions. This by-product is stored in our premises briefly and sold for various beneficial applications such as landfilling, road construction, use in the cement industry, and sand-blasting. 100% of the generated copper slag is being utilized for the above-stated applications.

After conducting stringent tests, the Central Pollution Control Board has declared Ferro Sand (or Copper Slag) as non-hazardous. It can be used for cement manufacturing, filling up of low lying area and road construction. MoEF also has declared Ferro Sand as non-hazardous through “Hazardous Wastes (Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2008, Notification on 24.09.2008” and terms it as “high volume low effect waste.”

We also conducted various technical studies through premier research institutions of India such as M/s National Metallurgical Labs (NML), Chennai; M/s Indian Toxicology Research Centre (ITRC), Lucknow; M/s National Council for Cement & Building Materials (NCCBM), Haryana; and M/s Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), New Delhi. All the studies have concluded positive results for Ferro Sand, declaring it as a highly stable material, non-toxic in nature, possessing good properties as raw material for cement manufacturing and road construction.

Based on these studies, BIS standard has approved use of this copper slag as a replacement to natural fine aggregates up to 50%.This is a clear example of sustainable use of industrial waste and protect environment by avoiding use of natural mineral such as river sand.

FACT: The safety performance of the company has improved over a period of time and has reached to a stage where the records and practices are at par with international smelters. The company follows not only the national standards but also the international standards such as International Finance Corporation (IFC) & International Council of Mining & Metals (ICMM). The Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) is the normal index being monitored across global metal and mining companies which is nothing but the number of lost time injuries for every million man-hours worked. The LTIFR of Sterlite has reached 0.12 which is at par with international benchmark. The company has been accredited with the “British Sword of Honour” in December 2017, which is a highly coveted award in the field of safety and this was awarded after a British team carried out extensive audits across the facility.

However, when injuries occur within the plant premises, it causes us to re-examine our systems and take steps to improve on any gaps that may have led to the accidents. To those injured, we provided medical assistance, paid-time-off, and any other support that they may require to fully recover and get back to work. In case of the unfortunate event of a fatality, we provide full financial assistance to the families of the deceased, ensuring that they are able to continue to remain financially secure.

FACT: Water supplied for industrial purpose is drawn from the fag end of the downstream, which otherwise enters the sea and hence does not affect water for agriculture, domestic or drinking purpose.

Sterlite Copper consumes only 19% of the water supplied to industries in Thoothukudi. 60% of Sterlite Copper’s water requirement is met through desalinated sea water. Water conservation is a key priority of Sterlite Copper and various initiatives like rainwater harvesting and Reverse Osmosis plant has yielded excellent results.

For the expansion project, Sterlite Copper will only be using desalinated seawater and water from treated sewage.

  • CII-EHS Five Star Excellence Award 2017.
  • CII Excellent Energy Efficient Unit Award-2014 – 2017 (4 times).
  • CII Noteworthy Water Efficient Unit Award-2016, 2017.
  • CII-EHS Award “4” Star Appreciation Award 2013.
  • 1st place award in CII-National Cluster Summit-Green Manufacturing-2015.
  • British Safety Council “5 Star Rating” 2017.
  • British Safety Council “Sword of Honour” 2017.
  • Greentech Safety Excellence Award 2016.
  • CII Best safety practices Award 2015.
  • Gold Category Award in CCQC 2015.
  • Safety Innovation Award 2013.
  • ASSOCHAM & Ministry of Skill Development -Skill Development Award for Livelihood.
  • Bureaucracy Today - CSR Excellence Award for Education.
  • Appreciation Plaque" by ASSOCHAM in recognition for the commendable contribution to CSR activities for the year 2012-2013.
  • Golden Peacock HR Excellence Award 2015, 2017.
  • Strong Commitment to HR Excellence 2015.
  • Game changers in talent Acquisition 2016.
  • Significant Achievement in HR Excellence (500-550) 2016.
  • Significant Achievement in HR Excellence (550-600) 2017.
  • Eminent HR Award - Innovation in Recruitment 2017.
  • Eminent HR Award- Best in retention Strategy 2017.
  • Manufacturing Supply Chain Awards’ 2018 - “Excellence in Manufacturing Supply Chain – Heavy Engineering.
  • 5th Procurement Excellence Awards’ for the Year 2017 - “Sectoral Procurement Excellence - Metals & Mining.
  • Best importer and exporter award by Custom Department-2017.
  • Best Taxpayer award from central excise and service tax department- 2016-17.
  • Industrial excellence in export by CII.
  • Received Best Export Award 2006-07 (Liquid Bulk) by Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
2016 - 2017
  • CII Gold award in 5S/.
  • 5 Par excellence and 3 excellence award in CCQC.
  • 4 Par excellence and 3 Gold award in NCQC.
  • 3 Distinguished, 1 excellence and 1 merit award in Inssan, QCFI Kaizen Mela award.
2015 - 2016
  • Golden peacock business excellence award winner at metal mining sector.
  • 2 Excellence 2 distinguish and 1 merit award in Inssan. Won par excellence and excellence in CCQC and NCQC.
  • QCFI best contributor award for Kaizen.
2014 - 2015
  • 3 Excellence and 1 merit award and 1 distinguish award in Inssan.
  • 1 Par excellence, excellence and gold award in CCQC and NCQC.
2013 - 2014
  • Par excellence and excellence in Inssan.
  • Par excellence and excellence in CCQC and NCQC.
  • 3 Par excellence awards in ICCQC.
2010 - 2011
  • Awarded the IMC RBNQ Performance Excellence Trophy 2010.
  • Awarded level 7 out of 10 for Leadership and Strategic Planning during Best Practices Benchmarking Competition conducted by GBN Roadshow, Mumbai.
  • Received two gold and two silver awards for competitions on best 5S, TQM and Kaizen Projects in the Chapter Convention of Quality Circles conducted by Quality Circle Forum of India during Sep’10.
  • Received 5 awards - Two Excellence awards for 5S and one for TQM in National Convention of Quality Circles held at Vizag during December 2010.