This 15-feet-tall sculpture of a rising horse, made of stainless steel, can be seen as symbolising the remarkable growth of the Indian stainless steel industry. Photo courtesy of Raajratna Ventures

India’s success story: world’s 2ND largest stainless steel producer

India overtook Japan to become the world’s second largest stainless steel producer after China, in 2016, according to data released by the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF). The country’s output rose to 3.324 million tons for the fiscal year 2016, compared to 3.093 million tons in Japan, showing an impressive compound annual growth rate of over 9%.
 
Growing domestic demand – particularly in the architecture, building and construction (ABC) and automotive, railways and transport (ART) sectors, together with the process industry – has propelled this growth despite serious concerns about the rise in imports, especially from neighbouring countries.

Article by Nirmal Mathur
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Today, the world of stainless steel is keenly watching developments in the Indian stainless steel sector. Over the last few years the average growth rate of the Indian stainless steel market has not only been consistent, but has matured enough for the industry to shift its focus from utensil and kitchenware applications to engineering sectors. The architecture, building and construction sector is playing a major role in creating good demand in the domestic market and it is expected that stainless steel will continue to be a big gainer.

Today, you will find that stainless steel handrails, gates, claddings, protective grills, nets and other fabricated interior items are quickly capturing the imagination of the general masses. This growth can be gauged from the fact that in recent past many new pipe and tube mills have emerged in various parts of the country to cater to this demand. Slowly, applications such as window and door frames, overhead water tanks, plumbing and fittings are rising, promising to push demand further.

In the automotive, railways and transport sector an impressive growth has been achieved in applications such as coaches and wagons for Indian Railways as well as passenger metro coaches. Indian Railways has decided to convert all of its coaches for intercity and long-distance trains into stainless steel; this includes all internal and external applications such as bio toilets, water tanks, etc. Rapid transit systems, known as ‘metro rails’, are witnessing fast expansion in metro cities. New projects in many other cities are also in various phases of planning, creating good demand for stainless steel not only in rail coaches, but also in the development of hundreds of stations.

Some new initiatives taken by our government on building smart cities, improving sanitation and waste management facilities, and building new infrastructure are likely to give a strong push to the demand coming from multiple application areas in these projects.

National Steel Policy (NSP) released by the Ministry of Steel emphasises the importance of life-cycle costing for long-term benefits when selecting material in projects, and stainless steel is likely to be a big winner in some of the key infrastructure projects.

Growing local market

The growth of the Indian domestic stainless steel market has good potential, considering the fact that our per capita consumption of stainless steel is just about 2 kg, which is much lower than the world average of more than 6 kg. Just a decade ago India was an insignificant player in the global market, but over the last few years the country has demonstrated a steady growth, becoming the world’s second largest producer. However maintaining this positive trend will take a lot of marketing and development activities. There is a consistent need to create awareness among planners and designers about the benefits of using stainless steel and, more importantly, promote it as an environment-friendly material.

Breakthroughs in potential emerging sectors and applications such as roofing and facades, reinforcement bars, water treatment systems, drinking water supply and plumbing, etc., will provide further impetus to the growth of the stainless steel industry in India. We have a strong and stable government and a sound economic policy. The new GST regime, a major tax reform, was out on 1 July 2017. We have a young population with 65% below the age of 35. All these factors plus the huge government spending for infrastructure is very positive for stainless steel demand growth going forward.
 

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