Agarwal, 61, started as a scrap metal dealer. Later, realising that the profitability of his telecom cable business fluctuated wildly with the prices of raw materials — copper and aluminium — he resolved to control costs by producing the metals himself. He bought Madras Aluminium and built India’s first private copper smelter. It was the beginning of a mining empire. His London-listed Vedanta Resources now spans India, Africa, Ireland and Australia, pulling in US$13 billion in revenue and employing more than 28,000 employees.