Mining ban hits iron ore supply to foundries'

The ban on mining iron ore in Karnataka and Goa has impacted supply of the key raw material to foundries while power shortage across states has curtailed production, an industry representative said Wednesday.

“Shortage of iron ore due to ban on mining in Karnataka and Goa is hampering production and erratic power supply in many states, especially in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, is forcing our units to work in one shift,” Institute of Indian Foundrymen president H. Sundara Murthy told reporters here.

As part of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME), about 5,000 foundries across the country produce 9.05 million tonnes of castings of grey iron, ductile iron, and malleable steel, non-ferrous and steel and provide direct employment to about 500,000 workforce and indirect jobs to 150,000 people.

“Though our industry has been growing at a healthy rate of 12-14 percent annually on increasing share of local manufacturing in the national gross domestic product (GDP), we have the potential to grow by 20 percent per annum if enough raw material and uninterrupted power are supplied consistently,” Murthy said ahead of the three-day Indian Foundry Congress and Expo in the city from Friday to showcase latest technologies and equipment.

According to the World Foundry Organisation (WFO), India is the second largest producer of foundry-based castings while China is the market leader, with 43 percent (40 million tonnes) of the world production.

India’s share in the global market is about 10 percent of the world’s castings production at 92 million tonnes.

“With user industries requiring about 20 million tonnes per year, the gap in the supply and demand of castings is widening due to fall in production owing raw material shortage and power constraints. The government must intervene to ensure enough supply of both - iron ore and quality power,” World Foundry Organisation vice-president Vinod Kapur said.

Indian Foundry Congress (IFC) organising committee chairman C.R. Swaminathan said foundries have to adopt latest eco-friendly technologies to consolidate their position and enhance production so as to compete with China, Japan and Brazil.

“With market paradoxes of high growth coupled with sudden low demand, it is imperative for the Asian foundry industry to deliberate on how to survive the upheavals in the market and business environment along with demographic challenges,” Asian Foundry Forum chairman N. Krishna Samaraj observed.

Though the US and the European Union continue to be the biggest markets for casting products, the sovereign debt crisis in the Euro zone has lowered exports from China and India.

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