Copper consuming units in the South, especially small- and medium-sized ones, find themselves in a jam.

An acute shortage of copper has not only thrown their cost calculations haywire but also impacted their delivery schedules.

‘Escalating pain’

Articulating their escalating pain at a press conference here on Tuesday, representatives of Copper Consumers’ Association of South India said the closure of the Thoothukudi unit of Sterlite had pushed the 75-odd member units into a crisis. The Sterlite unit, they said, accounted for almost 40% of the country’s total production. The small and medium copper consuming units in the south depended on the Sterlite unit for their copper needs. The closure of Sterlite’s factory had forced many of these units to default on their delivery schedules.

To a question, Hemanth Mehta, treasurer of the association, said, “Import of copper at such short notice is not possible as most of the contracts are already done.

“Transit time is long and the overall cost of imports is much higher compared to sourcing from within.” Also, imported copper pushed up costs close to 10%, he said. The situation could have cost implications for their downstream clients, he said.

The 75-odd members of the association together employed 15,000-20,000 people. If the copper shortage persisted for a long time, it could result in a 30% job reduction across its member units, represntatives said. They urged the government and stakeholders concerned to find an early solution to the supply contraints.

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