Vedanta has suspended plans to sell its copper smelter in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which accounts for nearly 40% of the country’s metal production while ramping up efforts to restart the plant.

After canceling a seven-month-long process to unload the 400,000 tpa Sterlite Copper plant, the company will now work with the local community to restart the closed plant for environmental reasons. It is named because the information is not publicly available. Vedanta’s motion to overturn the local government’s order to close the plant is set to be heard by the Supreme Court on February 21.

Restarting smelters will lead to higher copper production in India and lower imports. The refined metal will play a key role in the country’s transition to electric vehicles and renewable energy and has sparked interest from billionaire Gautam Adani Group, which aims to become one of the country’s largest copper producers.

India can’t afford to close this plant permanently when the demand for copper is at its peak in the country,” a spokesman for Vedanta said in an emailed statement, replying to a query on it scrapping the sale process. “There has been a positive sway among the people of the region with more voices coming forward to support the reopening of the plant.”

The company, managed by billionaire Anil Agarwal, has partnered with Axis Capital Ltd. A newspaper ad in June called for an asset sale and potential bidders. The steel mill has been closed on orders from the state government since 2018 after police opened fire on villagers protesting pollution at the plant, killing at least a dozen people.

According to a Vedanta spokesperson, India became the first net importer of the metal in nearly 20 years since plant closures.