India is gradually waking up to the potential of its minerals and metals industry, which ensured that the wheels of the economy kept running, despite the ravages of the pandemic. In fact, India’s mining GDP increased from INR 739.90 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020 to INR 913.03 billion in the first quarter of 2021, as per data from the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI). As the world looks at a ‘China+1’ strategy for establishing reliable supply-chains across industry sectors, India is poised to capitalize on its natural advantages of rich mineral resources, strategic geographic location, skilled human capital and manufacturing prowess to become the preferred manufacturing destination of the world.
Aluminium, the Strategic Metal
The aluminium industry is the largest non-ferrous metal industry in the world economy, and ranks second, next only to steel, in terms of volumes used due to its versatility and diverse applications. India is a leading player in the global aluminium industry with the second largest aluminium production capacity of about 4 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) ex-China. Aluminium is a metal of significant strategic importance to India, critical to almost all sectors of significance to modern life and essential to build a sustainable tomorrow. By virtue of its unusual properties like high strength-to-weight ratio, exceptional design flexibility, superior thermal & electrical properties, 100% recyclability over and over again, aluminium’s demand in space exploration, aviation, electric vehicles, renewable energy production, electricity transmission, construction, consumer goods, and more, is only slated to increase.
The Metal(s) of the Future
For India to be a manufacturing powerhouse, value-addition and product innovation will play a key role in modernizing the landscape of domestic manufacturing. High quality and high precision production in India will be crucial in propelling the wheels of India’s manufacturing prowess. And therefore, being India’s largest producer of aluminium and value-added products, we see our role as that of a catalyst, giving Indian manufacturers an edge above the rest. Therefore, we not only offer them the highest quality of products, but also innovations and customizations perfectly tailored to their needs, technical support and global expertise, as well as supply chain reliability. As the applications of aluminium continue to evolve, we are partnering with our customers to co-create the metals of the future.
Case in point, our highly advanced R&D capability has allowed us to produce sophisticated alloys such as Primary Foundry Alloy and Cylinder-Head Alloy for the automotive industry, and AlSi3 for the steel industry for the very first time in India. Before we produced them indigenously, these alloys were being entirely imported into India. We also recently launched High-Speed Billets, a special billet variant with advanced metallurgical properties to significantly boost productivity of extruders.
Sustainability will be Pivotal
Sustainability is no longer a matter of choice, rather a matter of how fast and how efficiently we must achieve it. Vedanta Aluminium’s growth story over the past decade stands testimony to it. From FY12 to FY21, we have almost tripled our production, and parallelly reduced our GHG emission intensity by 21% against the same baseline. This was possible due to our laser-focus on conceiving growth plans on the bedrock of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) excellence. In fact, Vedanta Aluminium has ranked 4th amongst global aluminium companies in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) for 2021 – our maiden foray into DJSI. Leading-edge technologies, a digital-first approach and global collaboration on emerging technologies to develop new ways of working to accelerate this transition, will be crucial to achieving this target.
Debottlenecking the Road Ahead
The competitiveness of the domestic aluminium industry is pivotal to the success of major government initiatives like ‘Make in India’, ‘Smart Cities’, ‘Power for All’, and the indigenous space program. The recent progressive reforms made by the government are welcome. To overcome the challenges the aluminium sector is facing requires a strategy for security of raw materials like bauxite and coal, proper infrastructure, competitive rates for power & energy requirements, preference for domestic industry and domestically produced aluminium, and safeguard measures against increasing non-essential aluminium scrap imports with BIS standards for imported aluminium scrap. A National Aluminium Policy along the lines of the National Steel Policy which focuses on a holistic short-term, medium, and long-term vision identifying growth targets for demand & capacity augmentation and encouraging domestic industry is the need of the hour.
Crystal Ball Gazing in 2022
The Aluminium industry is the largest non-ferrous metal industry in the world economy, and ranks second, next only to steel, in terms of volumes used due to its versatility and diverse applications. The global Aluminium consumption has been driven majorly by India and China having growth rate of ~10% till pre Covid times. Last decade has seen India’s consumption almost double from 2.2 million tons in FY-11 to about 4 million tons in FY-19. India’s aluminium demand is estimated to double again by the year 2025 with current resilient GDP growth rate driven by increasing urbanization and push for boosting domestic infrastructure, automotive, aviation, defence, and power sectors.
With that in mind, we are developing the world’s largest Aluminium Park near our Aluminium Smelter at Jharsuguda, which is one of the world’s largest aluminium smelters. It will attract hundreds of SMEs in Extrusion, Electrical, Casting, Auto Ancillaries, Packaging, etc. to set up their plants near our smelter, with benefits of liquid metal, water, power, dross processing plant and access to our world-class R&D and innovation facilities. By supporting aluminium-based industries in a robust ecosystem for creating cost-competitive aluminium products, we aim to establish India strongly on the global map as the Manufacturing Capital of the World.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors’ and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.