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The government will soon remove the Customs duty on ferro nickel, which is used by the stainless steel industry. Imports of ferro nickel attract 2.5 per cent. Steel Secretary Aruna Sharma said the ministry of finance had accepted the demand. The import duty on nickel was abolished on April 1 this year. However, ferro nickel was not exempted from the duty. The stainless steel industry uses nickel for manufacturing industrial and utensil grade materials, depending upon its quality and grade.
Thus, the cost of stainless steel production in India varies, depending upon nickel prices and the amount of its use. “The stainless steel industry uses ferro nickel. The iron content of ferro nickel is less than that of pure nickel but there is still iron and we can use the scrap as well,” said NC Mathur, former director general, Indian Stainless Steel Development Association (ISSDA).India imports nickel, either in pure ingot or scrap form, from Indonesia and China. The country imports an estimated quantity of 30,000-35,000 tonnes of both categories of nickel annually. India produces around 3.5 million tonnes of various grades of stainless steel annually for both industrial and household consumption. Sharma said the government would soon release new guidelines, raising quality standards for welded stainless steel pipes used in the oil and gas and construction industry. The current three BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) standards cannot be used for housing and plumbing grade stainless steel. The BIS had earlier this year issued quality control orders for 25 grades of stainless steel falling under the three IS standards, namely IS 6911, IS 5522 and IS 15997.