Govt to launch scrap standard for the copper sector soon; Need incentives including PLI: Dr VK Saraswat
NEW DELHI, 03 June 2022: Dr V K Saraswat, Member, NITI Aayog yesterday said that India is not self-sufficient in the production of copper ore. India imports copper concentrates for its smelters and domestic demand for copper and its alloys is met through domestic production, recycling of scrap and by imports. In the current paradigm of copper production we cannot wish away the copper recycling strategy as recycling requires 85 percent less energy. “Recycling should be done as the rate of recycling is very low. We need to do backward integration in the area of copper recycling,” he added. He further shared that there should be standards from the raw material stage upto finished products to maintain quality and safety of refined copper. Dr Saraswat further added that primary copper production is critical for India to be an export hub.
Addressing the seminar on ‘Copper Industry Convention: Vision 2030 & 2047’, organized by FICCI, Dr Saraswat said that the recycling industry has to have a major quality standard, and this comes from the quality of scrap used. There has to be a scrap standard in place. “Now we are working towards setting up scrap standard. We have to solve this problem collectively. India has all the capabilities to lay down standards with the best of the quality. It is the question of working together and putting the right kind of standards in place which is required. We need to have synchronized efforts to make copper industry number one industry in the world,” he emphasized he added.
Elaborating on the ESG measures, Dr Saraswat stated that there is a need for copper sector also to get some incentives including PLI to mitigate the extra cost borne by the industry. “We need to focus on value added products and these products can be made only if we have a PLI scheme for the sector,” he noted.
Highlighting the challenges of the copper sector, Dr Saraswat said that basic challenge is the availability of basic raw material. “Securitizing the copper concentrate along with other raw material is very important. The speed at which the foreign mines acquisition needs to be done by our country has to be accelerated,” he added.
Speaking on the role of FTAs, he emphasized that FTA should be done with utmost care in any segment and in case of copper it is very essential.
Dr Srikar K Reddy, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Govt of India said that India has now emerged as a trusted partner in global supply chain. “We are concluding FTA with countries exhibiting complementarities especially with the developed countries. We have concluded FTA with UAE in record 3 months and businesses on both sides are benefiting from it,” he added.
Highlighting the recent FTA with Australia, Dr Reddy said that this is the first FTA for India with any developed country over a decade. Australia has agreed to provide 100 percent market access on all our products. “We hope the agreement with Australia will be important also for the copper industry,” he noted.
Dr Reddy further stated that India’s export will double with UAE to reach US$ 50 billion in next 5 years from the current US$ 27 billion mark and will create 1 million new jobs for Indians. Also with Australia FTA, 1 million new jobs will be created. “These 2 FTAs will be adding value to Indian GDP and create 2 million jobs in India,” he added.
Mr Sameer Patil, Deputy Commissioner – Tax Research Unit, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, Ministry of Finance, Govt of India said that margins and scale are two important components for any industry. For companies engaged in commodities business then we can look at working on large scale with reduced margins which can be passed on to the domestic downstream industries.
Mr Sanjeev Verma, Director, Ministry of Mines Ministry said that copper industry has a lot of significance in the Indian economy and has diversified application across many sectors. “Copper industry forms an integral part of our economic growth supporting the mission of Aatmanirbhar Bharat and US$ 5 trillion economy,” he added. Mr Verma also stated that under the circular economy, the ministry is working on zero waste management of non-ferrous metals with NITI Aayog.
Mr Rohit Pathak, Chief Executive Office, Hindalco Industries, Birla Copper said that copper is a key element for transition to green and clean India. A four-pronged effort is required to scale up the Indian Copper industry, he added. Mr. Pathak further shared that there are four key areas which need attention for the holistic growth of the Indian Copper Industry. India needs to secure supply of copper concentrate for scaling Indian production to meet India’s future demand. India needs strong standards for copper scrap as 80% of copper use is in electrical applications. This will also encourage responsible recycling. India should focus on innovation & New Product Development in the copper industry to cater to demand from emerging sectors. Mr. Pathak also shared that there are four key areas which need attention for the holistic growth of the Indian Copper Industry. India needs to secure supply of copper concentrate for scaling Indian production to meet India’s future demand. India needs strong standards for copper scrap as 80% of copper use is in electrical applications. This will also encourage responsible recycling. India should focus on innovation & New Product Development in the copper industry to cater to demand from emerging sectors, he added.
Mr Puneet Khurana, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Sterlite Copper said that copper concentrate security is critical, and needs a strategic approach. There should be some incentive for the exports in the wire and cables industry, he added.
Downstream Manufacturer Mr Milan Mehta highlighted the growing use of winding wires across various sectors like automobiles, construction, transmission, etc. He stated that while the production stands at 4,20,000 tonnes per annum, the capacity utilization has only been at 60% countrywide. As there would be a growth in demand for winding wires due to investment trends in generation and transmission, decarbonization goals, EVs, demand for white goods consumer durables, and greater power consumption, winding wires industry can grow by 7.5-8% per annum in the next decade and grow up to 1.8-2 MT by 2047. This would however require the work of strong, supportive primary copper producers, reliant custom duty structure, circular economy pursuits, rationalization of GST from 18% to 12%, and improvement in quality standards and investment avenues. Mr. Kabara further added that the quality of copper used in Winding Wire is critical for quality and performance of end products in India and for exports. Direct melting of scrap for production of wires is concerning and should not be encouraged.
Downstream Manufacturer Mr Gopal Kabra emphasized the growing demand of copper and the expansion of the global copper wire business. He stated that the global copper wire business stands at US$ 500 million, but India’s share remains meagre at 5%. Mr. Kabra also said that “Copper quality is critical to prevent fire related accidents”.
Mr Kabra highlighted the need to expand and incentivize the export in wire and cable industries. Further, he argued for a need to improve the industry-wide quality standards to ensure demand for Indian wires beyond our boundaries. Moreover, quality assurance is also required to ensure sustainability and safety- to escape prospects of duplication of products. BIS was encouraged to strengthen its standards.
Mr Avinash Khemka, Chief Manager, International Copper Association of India; Mr Sandeep Garg, Deputy Executive Director, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers; Mr Ankur Rastogi, Vice President, Avalon Global Research; Dr Mukesh Kumar, Director, SRTMI; Mr Sanjay Pant, Scientist-F & DDG- Standardization-II, Bureau of Indian Standards; Mr R Saravanabhavan, Deputy Adviser (Minerals), NITI Aayog; Mr Shakil Alam, Economic Adviser, Ministry of Mines, Govt of India also shared their perspective on the Indian copper industry.