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India – A Favored Destination for Metal Producers

India – A Favored Destination for Metal Producers
 
Frost & Sullivan’s study on manufacturing excellence in the Metals sector delves into the importance aspects of the metals industry, its drivers and challenges.
 
Manufacturing excellence is the need of the day and manufacturing industries are constantly exploring new initiatives and technologies not only to remain competitive in the market, but also to sustain their growth and combat challenges faced. The Metals industry is no exception in this respect; it plays an important role in any economy because of its influence and application in a number of sectors such as chemical, engineering, agriculture, automobiles, infrastructure, electronics, and other manufacturing sectors.
 
According to a Frost & Sullivan’s study on manufacturing excellence in the Metals sector, Asia accounts for nearly 56% of the total world crude steel production. India is the primary producers’ market in the ferrous industry, which is oligopolistic and dominated by two large integrated producers – the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) in the public sector and Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO) in the private sector. However, the industry is highly fragmented in the downstream sector of secondary producers both in China and in India. Non–ferrous metals industries include a variety of metals like aluminium, copper, zinc, lead, tin, etc. Among the non–ferrous base metals, Aluminium, the ‘poor man’s silver’, has found wide application in various sectors like automotive, aviation, railways, electricity, etc., due to its properties such as light weight, good conducting capabilities, and long durability. Overall, the non–ferrous Metals industry in Asia is highly fragmented and yet to exploit its full potential.  
 
Growth drivers seen in the metal sector are Government policies, consolidation, favorable conditions and growing demand and consumption. Under Government policies, it is been noted that up to 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is allowed under the automatic route for mining of metal ores in India. FDI policies have made global leaders like Arcelor–Mittal and POSCO evince interest in setting up plants in India. Moreover, thrust on infrastructure by the Government of India (GoI) is expected to boost steel demand and the Government has earmarked 46% of total plan allocations in the Union Budget (2010–11) towards infrastructure development. 
 
The metals industry in Asia has seen mergers and acquisitions such as Tata’s Corus deal and Tangshan Iron and Steel Company’s deals with two smaller rivals. Mergers and acquisitions intensify competition existing among domestic players in the market and force them to innovate and improve their efficiency in order to sustain in the market. 
 
According to Vinod Shankar, Consultant, Manufacturing & Process Consulting Practice, Frost & Sullivan, South Asia & Middle East, “The Indian subcontinent, along with other parts of Asia, is rich in enormous reserves of metals and minerals such as iron ore, bauxite, etc. This, along with its close geographical proximity to the Middle East, makes Asia one of the most favored destinations for metal producers.” 
 
India’s per capita consumption of steel is around 48 Kg, while that of aluminum and copper is around 0.8 Kg and 0.4 Kg, respectively. However, per capita consumption of key metals has been increasing with the booming economy.  In addition, low penetration of key metals clearly indicates high growth potential and an opportunity for investors to exploit the untapped market. 
 
The challenges faced by this sector are remote locations of mineral deposits, protectionist tendencies by other economies, rising cost of raw materials, highly unorganized metal producers sector, adoption of latest technologies still in nascent stages, lack of adoption of scientific mining techniques and inadequate availability and poor quality of coking coal  To overcome the challenge of poor quality of coking coal, industries are importing high–cost coking coal from Australian and Indonesian coalfields. Despite large–scale imports, demand for coal has continuously outstripped supply. 
 
However, the report reveals that the non–ferrous industry sector is facing a serious threat of shortage of resources, due to which countries like China and India have become net importers of non–ferrous metals. With rapid increase in the consumption pattern of metals, recycling of metals is crucial in meeting forecast metal demand. Metal recycling is environmentally benign and requires much lesser capital and energy for production. The recycling industry in Asia is yet to gear up fully to meet this demand and is highly reliant on importing metal scrap because of its unorganized scrap metals sector.       

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