Amid challenging times and legal tangles over its copper plant in southern India, Vedanta Group on Friday announced the appointment of Pankaj Kumar as the chief executive officer of Sterlite Copper with immediate effect, replacing P Ramnath.
Ramnath stepped down from the post after leading Sterlite for eight years. He would, however, continue as a senior advisor.
In addition to the unit s copper operations, Kumar will also oversee operations at Malco Energy (MEL) and Fujairah Gold (FZH), a press statement said. Sterlite Copper has a 400,000-tonne per annum copper plant at Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu. Kumar has already worked as its chief operating officer. His appointment at the helm of affairs at Sterlite Copper comes at a crucial juncture in the company’s journey in Thoothukudi after it was forced to shut its plant by the Tamil Nadu government in May last year.
It has remained closed for close to a year now following a violent clash between the police and demonstrators that claimed 13 lives. The locals were against the smelter for alleged environmental norms violation.
Vedanta has moved the Madras High Court (MHC) and the Supreme Court to reopen the plant. The SC has directed the company to once again move the MHC for the succor. The next hearing is slated for March 27.
Pankaj Kumar has nearly 29 years of industry experience, working as chief operating officer & director (smelters) at Hindustan Zinc. He has also worked in various conglomerates such as Tata Steel, Adani Ports and Mittal Steel.
On his vision for the company, Kumar said: It is an honour to be back in a place that feels like home. Having already worked in Sterlite Copper before, I can positively say it is a people-first organisation, and nothing has changed in that regard. I have come at a time when many interesting projects for the development of the region as well as its people are in the pipeline, and I am excited to serve our community in any way I can.
Wishing Pankaj Kumar the best, Ramnath said, My tenure as the CEO has been an eventful journey, and, as is the case with any journey, there have been numerous ups and downs. However, the one thing that will continue to remain steadfast is our commitment towards the well-being of the people of Thoothukudi and nothing will take precedence over that.