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  • BIR Abu Dhabi 2023 - Stainless Steel & Special Alloys Committee: Strong future growth forecast in India for stainless ‘wonder alloy’

BIR Abu Dhabi 2023 - Stainless Steel & Special Alloys Committee: Strong future growth forecast in India for stainless ‘wonder alloy’

  • 26 October 2023

India’s vision to become a US$40 trillion economy by 2047, the year which marks 100 years of independence, will make it a major consumer of stainless steel into the future.

The country’s ambitious plans and its predicted growth in stainless steel production and scrap demand were set out at the BIR Stainless Steel & Special Alloys Committee session, during the global recycling organisation’s Convention in Abu Dhabi on 23 October. During his presentation, “Charting a Sustainable Future: stainless steel, industry trends and India Vision for tomorrow” Hitesh Agrawal, General Manager at Jindal Stainless (ARE), explained that India’s 2047 vision has put focus on infrastructure, construction and logistics.

India is currently the second largest global consumer of stainless steel, and its consumption is set to grow. Mr Agrawal said: “The per capita consumption of stainless steel in India, which is approximately 2.83kg, is expected to go up significantly in the coming years. By 2025-2030 it is going to be in the range of 3.5-5kg and, significantly, it will go up to 8.5-11.5kg up to 2047.”

Mr Agrawal set out predicted growth rates based on analysis from the Indian Stainless Steel Development Association (ISSDA) and CRISIL Research: “Stainless steel demand is expected to grow at the rate of 6.5-7.5% until 2025 and then approximately 7-8% from 2025 to 2030. Demand, which currently is approximately 3.7-3.9 million tonnes, is expected to go up to 4.6-4.8 million tonnes by 2025, and then by 2030 this is expected to be around 6.6-6.8.”

Asked by Committee Chairman Mr Joost Van Kleef where India would get the raw material for its needs, Mr Agrawal explained that stainless steel produced in India is largely scrap based, as it uses electric arc furnaces or induction furnaces.

A major challenge for India will be the availability of scrap, particularly due to “nationalism in scrap” where other countries do not want their scrap leaving their boundaries. “That will definitely continue to remain a challenge until India becomes self-sustainable on availability of scrap.”

Jindal Stainless foresees using a ratio of around 60-70% scrap in the next couple of years, with the remaining balance from nickel pig iron and ferro nickel.

Stainless steel was described by Mr Agrawal as a “wonder alloy” with desirable properties: 100% recyclable, lowest lifecycle cost, better strength to weight ratio, naturally aesthetic, inert, hygienic, resistance at high temperatures, no toxic run off, easy to fabricate. Scrap, Mr Agrawal explained, was “a material which everybody would like to use because of its low carbon footprint”.

These attributes were echoed by Dr Gerhard Pariser, Group Sales Executive & Head of Corporate Development at Oryx Stainless BV (NED), a processor which has operations in the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Thailand and under construction in Malaysia.

Dr Pariser explained: “Scrap is the commodity and the product that puts the ‘green’ into steel. There is no ‘green steel’ and no ‘green stainless steel’ without scrap.”

Use of scrap in steel production in the western world is around 70% today, while most major European producers now have recycled content of over 90% – including internal and external recycled waste streams.

Recent lifecycle assessment conducted by the German Fraunhofer Institute found that making grade 304 steel with 100% primary material generated 7.82 tonnes of CO2e per tonne of stainless, whereas with 70% scrap it drops to 3.62 tonnes, and with 100% scrap it is 0.8 tonnes.

Pointing out the shift for mills in Europe to produce green steel, Mr Van Kleef asked whether Jindal Stainless was also working on such products. Mr Agrawal said the company was keen to move in this direction with green steel and reduced CO2 emissions. It has adopted major SDG targets, aims to be Net Zero by 2050 and is setting up India’s first green hydrogen plant due to be operational at the end of the year. But, he added, the challenge was the availability of scrap.

Dr Pariser also highlighted challenges for the sector: economic cycles, balancing demand and supply, and the circular economy. Partnership working between customers and suppliers was important to manage economic cycles, he believed, while regional and international trade was the balancing mechanism between areas of scrap surplus and shortage. He noted a recent trend towards regionality in the EU.

Stainless recycling was the “poster boy for circularity” according to Dr Pariser, who was optimistic for the future: scrap is a sought-after product needed in the circular economy and carbon reduction journey, it is a fluid commodity, and the recycling industry is a key facilitator in ensuring the optimum quality and volume flows of this desirable material.