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Stainless Steel industry in India has a bright future

Though 75 per cent in the usage of stainless steel comes from kitchen segment alone, its use in industrial and other segments is bound to increase in the coming years, says Nirmal C. Mathur (Director, Jindal Strips Ltd. and President, lndian Stainless Steel Development Association) , in his interview to 'Steelworld'

• What is the current situation in Indian Stainless Steel Sector?

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 series low nickel stainless steel in the world. Railways will completely switch over to manufacture of passenger coaches requiring 15 MT stainless steel per coach in next five years. In addition, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has already tendered for 200 all stainless steel coaches. The government of India is using Ferrtic Cold rolled stainless steel strips for making coins. There is greater awareness on the use of stainless steel in the Building and Construction sector.

• What are the global trends and how are they likely to affect Indian markets?

The automotive and transport sector in some of the major stainless steel consuming countries of the western world accounts for nearly 14%. Similarly, the construction sector takes around 12% stainless steel. Against this in India at present our consumption in both these segments put together is just l%. This analysis gives clear signal of future prospects in both construction and transport sectors in India. As the stress on maintaining environment is increasing day by day, the automotive industry will be requiring the use of stainless steel in increasing amounts tor fume exhaust and catalytic converter applications. With the go ahead given by the government for use of CNG and LPG gas in automobiles, stainless steel auto gas tank will be of interest to automobile manufacturers and users. With major international fast food chains investing in India like Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, Mcdonald’s, Burger King etc., the consumption of stainless steel is bound to increase as these fast food units use good quantity of stainless steel in kitchen, service area and furniture. A large potential exists for LPG cylinders in India with 90 million carbon steel LPG cylinders in use. In Spain, stainless steel LPG cylinders have been successfully introduced four years ago. Besides being lightweight and aesthetically superior these cylinders have a longer life and final high scrap value. Developmental efforts are on and this will become a reality in our country soon.

• Tell us something about Jindal Strips Ltd. history, present status and the future goals.

Jindal Strips Ltd. is the ISO 9002 and ISO 14001, certified flagship company of the USD 1.5 billion Jindal Organization set up by Mr. O.P.Jindal in 1970. It is the largest composite stainless steel plant in India and caters to about 40% of India’s demand for stainless steel. The Company is equipped with composite steel making-hot rolling and cold rolling mills for production of all principal grades of stainless steel. The Company manufactures and sells abroad range of stainless steel products including hot rolled plates and coils, cold rolled coils and sheets in a number of finishes. The company also produces High Carbon Ferro Chrome (“HCFC”}, a basic raw material for production of stainless steel. The company is the exclusive producer in India of special variety of Stainless Steel Strips for making Razor Blades and Surgical Blades with a capacity to produce 10,000 MT per annum.
The company has a composite Stainless steel plant at Hisar (Haryana) with a production capacity of 2,50,000 tonnes per annum and with a production capacity of 40.000 tonnes per annum of HCFC at Vizag, (Andhra Pradesh). JSL has acquired 51% stake in Massillon Inc., a 60,000 tpa cold rolling facility at Massillon, Ohio, USA from Bethlehem Steel. The subsidiary will strengthen Jindal Strips’ foothold in the offshore market. The Massillon acquisition, in addition to providing JSL an opportunity to export a part of its cold rolled production will contribute greatly to developing the US market- the largest market for stainless steel in the world.
The plant completed an expansion programme entailing the modification of the existing 30,000 tpa cold rolling capacity to 90,000 tpa, manufacturing value added products and diversifying its product mix to improve profitability. A number of specific high end machinery like the 20-Hi Sendzimir Mill, Bright Annealing Line (first of its kind in India) and the 268 m long Annealing Pickling Line have been installed. With the commissioning of the 20 Hi Cold Rolling Mill, JSL has become the first Indian Stainless Steel Cold Rolling Plant having capacity to roll up to 1600 mm width. Today the plant can roll coils of thickness as low as 0.10 mm, which commands a premium in the international markets. JSL has been shortlisted as one of the bidders for getting into a joint venture with SAIL for the Salem Steel Plant.

• What is the objective of creating ‘Jindal Stainless Design Centre’? Tell us something about the R&D work being carried out there.

The Jindal Stainless Steel Design Centre has been established by Jindal Strips Ltd. to increase the use of stainless steel in trend setting and path breaking ways. It aims to work as a nucleus among designers, architects, fabricators, producers. marketers and technology suppliers from concept to commercialization.Innovative steel products are designed and developed in association with professional designers and premier design institutes, who are involved in the conceptualization, design, fabrication, execution and installation. Over 50 designer products in the area of giftware, environmental art, stainless art, bar essentials, fusion with other material and utility products have been designed and produced by the centre.

• How do you see the prospects for stainless steel industry in India?

The stainless steel industry in India has a bright future with 75% of the usage coming from domestic kitchen segment alone which includes utensils. However the use in industrial and other segments is still very low which would increase in the coming years.

• What support does the stainless steel industry expect from thc policy makers?

We strongly feel that the govt. should levy additional customs duty/dumping duty for second and defective stainless steel products (Cold Rolled & Hot Rolled) to face this threat. Also since the use of such products is internationally not accepted, import of seconds and defective stainless steel should be removed from the OGL list. Other non-tariff measures could be setting up a minimum floor price for the import of seconds and defective material. These steps would go a long way in promoting healthy competition among domestic stainless steel producers.

• How can the stainless steel industry increase their exports?

Stainless Steel Industry in India can increase exports with major focus on China which still imports 70% of its total requirement of 1.4 million tons. The 200 series developed in India has potential in every developing country including value added products like Pipes & Tubes and kitchen utensils. India also has good facilities for stainless steel long products like bar, wire rod and wires which has good prospects in Europe, USA and South East Asian region.

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