Speaking at the agreement signing ceremony featuring India’s seven steel majors in the creation of the new Steel Research and Technology Mission (SRTMI), Indian Steel Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the joint initiative of steel industry and the government would also help the steel industry to play a major role in creating employment.
This new industry-led initiative to promote collaborative research programs in India’s steel sector aims to increase investment in research and development in the steel sector from its present level of 0.2-0.3% of turnover progressively towards the international benchmark of 1-2% of turnover.
The initial approximately $32 million (about Rs 200 crore) investment for SRTMI will come in equal contribution from the Steel Development Fund of the ministry and the participating companies: Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL), Tata Steel, JSW Steel, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd., Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd., the National Mine Development Corporation and MECON Ltd.
SRTMI, as conceptualized by a high-level government task force, will carry out research and development in priority areas of Indian national importance covering best usage of available raw materials and conservation of natural resources, optimum energy conservation coupled with minimum emissions, innovation and in-house development of design, engineering and manufacturing facilities of key steel plant equipment.
India is already on a path to achieving 300 million metric tons of steel production by 2025, and many feel the creation of SRTMI could help the process. The government’s steel policy aims at this target but critics are still skeptical, given the fact that India currently makes about 82 mmt/year of finished steel.
Indian steel majors have started testing new uses of the ferrous metal. Railway production, for example, is proving to be a key growth area in India which in the coming years. One of the projects being actively contemplated, the construction of two corridors for high speed trains on the lines of the famous Bullet Train, would require a massive amount of steel.
Just in February this year, MetalMiner reported how Tata Steel had won a contract to supply wear-resistant rails for London’s Crossrail project. The Crossrail route will serve 40 stations over 100 kilometers from Reading and Heathrow in the west, via twin-bore 21-km tunnels below central London, to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.
The author, Sohrab Darabshaw, contributes an Indian perspective on industrial metals markets to MetalMiner.