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Indian Stainless Steel Market Growth Perspectives

(July 2002)

Special Correspondent

Stainless Steel is an environmentally friendly material and the most appropriate one of the sustainable development because it does not degrade during the life of the product. It is also 100% recyclable. Stainless Steel has achieved worldwide recognition for its corrosive resistance and for its easy to clean / hygienic surfaces.

China has become world’s largest consumer of stainless steel overtaking the United States and Japan. China’s consumption of Stainless steel in 2001 was about 2.25 mt. While consumption in the US was 2 mt and in Japan it amounted to 1.5 to 1.6 mt. While the world’s average growth rate has been 4-7%, China’s consumption of stainless steel has been growing at an average rate of 17% for the past 10 years and in India the compounded annual growth rate is around 9 %. The consumption in 20 years is rapidly growing from 66,000 tonnes in 1980-81 to 7,50,000 tonnes in 2000-01. India manufactures the product forms, share being 80% flat and 20% long. While the organised sector use EAF with refining facilities such as AOD/VOD, continuous casting and associated rolling facilities, small businesses use induction furnace (1.3 ton capacity) for melting stainless steel scrap and recycling into usable steel (pencil Ingot-Flat bars). A basic raw material for production of stainless steel HCFC is also produced in India.

Stainless Steel production in India is rapidly growing every year. Today 75% of the end use market of stainless steel is still in kitchen segment. Now 95% of our gas stove market uses only stainless steel which until the late 80’s was using painted carbon steel bodies and later nickel chromium plated ones. India has emerged as the largest producer of 200 low nickel stainless steel in the world. (Nickel austenitic SS-1-4% Nickel). Nickel has been partially replaced by Manganese, with addition of Copper and Nitrogen. Annual production is nearly 5,50,000 tonnes of 200 series stainless steel which is 70% of total production of stainless steel.

The pattern of stainless steel end use consumption in India vis-à-vis the western countries shows an interesting comparison.

Sector Western world India

Catering equipment 36.5% 75%

Construction 11.6% 0.5%

Process Industries 19.4% 11.0%

Welded and Seamless tubes 11.8% 4.0%

Others 5.8% 9.1%

On the basis of the above, Indian Stainless Steel Development Association (ISSDA) has identified the new application areas like architecture, building and construction (ABC) and automobiles, railways and transportation (ART) which are the keys to increasing the consumption of stainless steel in India thus expanding on the extent of Industrial usage. In the ABC sector, the basis of popularity for stainless steel could be as an architectural material. In the building and construction sector, the prospects of stainless steel reinforcement bars for concrete are good. In the ART sector, stainless steel long distance coaches are now a reality with the Rail coach Factory (RCF) Kapurthala in the process of fabricating all stainless steel coaches. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has specified Stainless Steel EMU coaches and similar efforts are also on for Bangalore and Mumbai. There is co-ordination with the automobile manufacturers to introduce stainless steel auto gas tanks (AGT) for automobiles as LPG has already been approved as an alternate environment friendly fuel. Another end sector which holds good promise in the Stainless Steel domestic LPG cylinder. The 50% weight in this case too as with the AGT, will be major benefit to the LPG consumers. The Stainless Steel Industry is also planning to penetrate the market of overhead water storage tanks, currently monopolised by plastics.The government of India is using Ferrtic cold rolled stainless steel strips for making coins.

Thus there is great awareness on the use of stainless steel in the building and construction sector and its use in industrial and other segments would increase in the coming years. If the potential of the market is fully realised in terms of the prospective end use sectors mentioned above along with the continuing growth of the utensil market, the future growth rate of stainless steel can even be higher than witnessed in the last decade.

The first all SS railway passenger coach at the Integral Coach Factory near Chennai. 11 tonnes of SS were used for under frame, trough floor, side wall, end wall and roof of the coach



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