India's free trade pacts with copper producing nations have posed a threat to the domestic industry, state-owned Hindustan Copper (HCL) has said, asking the industry to be innovative to meet future challenges. "Import of finished copper is increasing over the years.
Free trade agreements with copper-producing countries have posed a challenge to the Indian copper industry," Hindustan Copper Ltd (HCL) said in Annual Report 2016-17. The copper market in India, the report said, is likely to remain positive with strong growth in key user segments, including power and construction. On the back of improved economic activity in India, the demand for the metal is likely to grow at 6-7 per cent in coming years. Such high demand, the company said, is an offshoot of increasing urbanisation, development of industrial corridors, smart city project, housing for all by 2022, national highway development and rail projects. The defence production policy to encourage indigenous manufacturing and ambitious green energy plans of the government are also seen to drive the metal demand. "In addition to this, there is a plan for green energy corridor for transmission of renewable energy," Hindustan Copper said. The per capita copper consumption in the country is expected to rise to 1 kg by 2025, from the current 0.5 kg. The consumption figure for China currently is 6 kg and the world average is 2.7 kg. Import of finished copper is on the increase over the years. Three major players dominate the Indian copper scene - HCL from the public sector and Hindalco and Sterlite Industries from the private space. HCL is the only vertically integrated copper producer in the country. Hindalco and Sterlite Industries have set up port-based smelting and refining plants at Dahej in Gujarat and Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, respectively. India has a total installed capacity of 9.9 lakh tonnes of refined copper production per annum. Last fiscal, the mine ore production of HCL was 3.85 million tonnes (mt) compared to 3.9 mt in 2015-16. To increase output, HCL has chalked out an expansion plan to ramp up mine production to 12.4 mtpa by 2018-19, from 3.2 mtpa.