MRAI: Bright future for nonferrous metals

Zooming vehicle production should set the pace for nonferrous metals growth in India.

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February 17, 2015

Each year more vehicles pop up on roads in India and a growing number of them are produced domestically. This trend provided a reason for optimism within the Indian nonferrous metals sector, according to presenters at the 2015 Metal Recycling Association of India (MRAI) International Conference, held in Mumbai in February.
 
Mohan Agarwal of Haryana, India-based Century Metal Recycling Pvt. Ltd. told MRAI attendees that India has risen to become the seventh largest automaker globally and the second largest producer of two-wheeled vehicles (motor scooters and motorcycles).
 
With the motor vehicle industry as a major customer, Century Metal Recycling has grown in just nine years to operate seven secondary aluminum and zinc alloys plants in India with a combined 225,000 metric tons of annual capacity.
 
Both globally and in India, Agarwal said aluminum “plays an increasingly significant role” in vehicle production as manufacturers seek fuel efficiency and reduced carbon emissions. Agarwal cited studies that point to 132 kilograms (291 pounds) of aluminum in the average car now. That figures is expected to increase to 200 kilograms (441 pounds) of aluminum by 2021, “with most of the growth in car bodies.”
 
The four-wheeled, two-wheeled and three-wheeled (auto rickshaw) vehicles pouring onto Indian roads also require batteries, which has been good news for Jaipur, India-based Gravita India Ltd. Navin Sharma of the lead-acid battery and lead alloys production company, said India now places in the top five among nations in annual lead demand.
 
India is currently a net importer of lead, bringing in 200,000 metric tons annually, “including some scrap,” according to Sharma.
 
Sharma described the Indian lead industry as “highly fragmented,” with around 353 registered battery recyclers and a production sector that still includes “backyard smelters.”
 
The future demand scenario for lead in India looks strong, said Sharma, with India’s motor scooter and auto rickshaw makers both exploring electric-powered options, and India’s government also backing a major solar initiative.
 
India also is experiencing growth in the production of nickel-bearing stainless steels, said Anil Shah of Ni-Met Metals Inc. Oakville, Ontario-based Ni-Met is among the companies shipping stainless steel scrap to India, said Shah, with stainless 304 and 316 series bales and turnings being grades commonly shipped to the country. 
 
Shah said India’s stainless steel production is anticipated to grow from 1.9 million metric tons in 2004 to 3.7 million in 2017 and then 4.57 million by 2020.
 
Stainless steel mills in India currently use 53 percent scrap as feedstock, compared to 76 percent in the United States, noted Shah, adding, “I think we have a long way to go.” The figure, however, is far superior to China’s 19 percent scrap utilization rate at stainless steel mills, with nickel pig iron serving as the predominant feedstock in China.
 
The 2015 MRAI International Conference was Feb. 5-6 at the Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre and Hotel.