India’s top copper smelter will remain shuttered after a local tribunal voted to pass the case against it to a New Delhi high court following a month-long closure. The plant meets 50% of the copper demand for a nation soon to exceed China with the world’s biggest population while struggling with extremely poor infrastructure and energy supplies.

The Sterlite Industries smelter was closed on March 30 after local residents complained of breathing problems. The move ceased production of 3,000 daily mt of copper concentrates as processing fees reached a five-month high in Asia. Half the Tuticorin facility’s production went to China.

In his ruling, Justice M. Chockalingam of the National Green Tribunal said that “circumstances did not permit” him to hear the case in the southern bench of the fast-track court and that the case has been rescheduled.

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