For the longest time, India has been one of the largest global importers of scrap steel, behind only Turkey.
That could change in the coming years if a recent policy announcement is any indication.
Chaudhary Birender Singh, India’s minister of steel, recently said his ministry proposed to set up steel plants with scrap as the raw material in various parts of northern and western India.
What the government expects is that in the next few years, 44% of the total scrap available in the country would be generated in various locations in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi. The main use for the scrap would be steel production.
The minister said the Indian government’s efforts to recycle waste products for productive purposes would save of 65% of iron ore, which is currently the main raw material for steel production.
For some time now, the Indian government has been toying with the idea of using scrap instead of iron ore for use in steel plants. One must remember that the supply of ore was disrupted due to a ban on mining for a few years.
Such scrap-based steel plants could go some way in helping meet the government’s steel production target of 300 million tons by 2030. According to the minister, the Indian government was adopting a 360% holistic approach wherein the recycling industry can help in achieving the production target by providing raw material for the steel industry.
India imports approximately 6 million tons of scrap steel every year, though the figure has come down a bit since last year. In November 2016, India imported 482,000 tons of scrap. However, combined imports during the initial 11-month period in 2016 were down considerably when matched with the corresponding period in 2015.
The government’s plan to set up the five scrap-based steel plants may happen within the next year. A Press Trust of India report quoting Aruna Sharma, India’s steel secretary, had said all the scrap will be reused to make steel, which could be about 40 million tons of steel. The first such plant would come up next month in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, followed by one in southern India.
State-run metal scrap trading firm MSTC signed a joint venture agreement with Mahindra Intertrade for setting up the first such plant. As of now the JV is between MSTC and Mahindra. Mahindra Intertrade is a part of Mahindra Partners Division of the $17.8 billion diversified Mahindra Group.
According to the same report, Hyundai had also shown interest in setting up the southern India plant.