While campaigners chanted slogans against the company outside the London, UK gathering, senior executives faced criticism from shareholders, celebrity activists and charities inside the meeting hall.

The firm has been castigated for its plans to dig a bauxite mine in an area in Orissa, eastern India, which is said to be held sacred by indigenous people.

At the meeting, Bianca Jagger, ex-wife of Rolling Stone Mick Jagger, read out an impassioned plea from members of the Kondh for Vedanta to halt the project.

Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwal and chief executive MS Mehta rejected charges of displacing local people following the construction of the refinery and claimed that their operations would spread wealth to one of the poorest regions of India.

The company argued that it had carried out extensive consultation with the local people starting in 2002, finding few in opposition.

Malnutrition rates in the Niyamgiri area have fallen from 58% to 31% between 2006 and 2008, it says, after the alumina refinery was built.

The company has funded a ‘project area development foundation’ that will build projects from village electrification, to girls’ schools and street lights. ‘Zero’ people live on the site where bauxite would be mined, according to Mr Mehta.