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India's Vedanta looking for state partners for new $1.4 billion copper smelter

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By Sudarshan Varadhan

CHENNAI (Reuters) - Billionaire Anil Agarwal-controlled Vedanta Ltd said on Wednesday it was looking for a Indian state government partner to set up a 100 billion rupees ($1.37 billion) copper smelter, nearly 3 years after its existing smelter was shut.

Vedanta's 400,000 tonnes per annum copper smelter in the port city of Thoothukudi was ordered shut in May 2018 by the southern Tamil Nadu state, a week after police killed 13 protesters seeking the plant's closure for alleged pollution.

"We are looking to partner with state governments for setting up a copper smelter in a coastal region in India," Vedanta said in advertisment in the Economic Times newspaper on Wednesday.

The proposed 500,000 tonnes per annum copper smelter could employ as many as 10,000 people, the company said, adding that it was looking for a 1000-acre site close to a port.

Vedanta has challenged the Tamil Nadu state's decision to permanently shut its smelter in Thoothukudi in India's Supreme Court. The smelter was operated by its unit Sterlite Copper.

It is not clear when the Supreme Court will hear the case.

(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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