The Indian Ferro Alloy Industry- Prabhash Gokarn & TS Sunderesan,Indian Ferro Alloy Producers AssociationAbout IFAPAIndian Ferro Alloy Producers Association (IFAPA) is committed to the growth of theferro alloy industry in India. It represents the Indian Ferro Alloy Industry with almostall ferro alloy producers being members of the association.IFAPA imbued with the philosophy that while individual initiative, enterprise andefforts are the foundation of a nation’s progress, a co-operative and complementaryfunctioning of the ferro alloy industry is needed for consensus in all its interfacingactivities with various outside agencies, like the government and other industry bodiesto avoid confrontational and conflicting facets.IFAPA is the sole industrial body that interfaces with government, trade and otherindustry bodies, educational and R&D institutions on — legal, tenurial, fiscal,regulatory, forests and environmental — all matters connected with the functioning ofthe ferro alloy industry on a continuing basis.
INTRODUCTION:What are Ferro AlloysFerro Alloys are vital inputs for the production of all steel : carbon, low alloyand high alloy steels, including stainless steel. Ferro Alloys are used during theproduction of steel, as deoxidants, to make clean steels and as alloying agents.Ferro Alloys are classified into two categories, based on the nature ofmanufacture and useage pattern, namely : 1. Bulk Ferro Alloys viz., High Carbon Ferro Manganese, Silico Manganese, Ferro Silicon, High Carbon Ferro Chrome etc., usually manufactured by carbo-thermic reduction using submerged electric arc furnaces and, 2. Noble Ferro Alloys viz., Ferro Molybdenum, Ferro Vanadium, Ferro Tungsten, Ferro Silico Magnesium, Ferro Titanium, Ferro Boron, etc., usually manufactured by alumino-thermic reduction in the Thermite process.The requirement of Ferro Alloys, both type and quantity, depends upon theprocess of steel making and the type of steel being made. For instance, thequantity of silico manganese and ferro silicon, traditionally used to makekilled and semi-killed steels and for aiding desulphurization had reduced assteel plants adopted newer technologies (like Basic Oxygen Steelmaking,external desulphurization using cored wire injection, and vacuum degassing).However, with the steep increase in the demand for alloy steels, the specificconsumption of ferro alloys is on the increase.Steel is alloyed to increases its resistance to Corrosion and Oxidation, toimproves its Hardenability and Tensile Strength, its High TemperatureStrength & Creep Resistance, to increase Wear and Abrasion resistance andmodify the nature of inclusions in steel, that decreases the tendency of steel tocrack during processing or during service.
The Indian Ferro Alloy Industry – the genesisThe Indian Ferro Alloy Industry in the organized Sector came into productionin mid sixties, at the behest of the Planning Commission, which thought itproper that instead of raw materials abundantly available in the country beingexported at throw away prices, the country could build up the infrastructurewhere it could use the natural resources of Ores like Manganese Ore, ChromeOre, Titanium Ore and produce value added products like Ferro Alloys.In the Second Five Year Plan, the Planning Commission formulated a Policyand suggested licensing units based on 50% of the production capacity forexports, besides meeting the local requirements.Initially, the Ferro Alloy Units came up in what are now the states of Orissa,Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh mainly due to availability andproximity of raw material & power. Ferro Manganese plants came up at Jodain Orissa, Dandeli in Karnataka, Tumsar in Maharashtra and near Vizag, A.P.Today the Ferro Manganese plant at Joda is the one of oldest continuouslyoperating Ferro Alloy plants.The first phase of expansion of the industry took place between the late sixtiesand seventies and 14 furnaces with capacity addition of 178 MVA undertookbulk production of Ferro Silicon and Ferro Chrome.The second phase of expansion was during the eighties on productdiversification, assimilation and advance technology and setting up of ExportOriented Units to earn substantial foreign exchange for the country. Thisresulted in addition of 12 more furnaces and the capacity addition during theeighties was about 308 MVA.The Ferro Alloy Industry was thrown open and liberalized during 1991-92. Asa result, a number of Small and Medium Units having transformer rating of 2.5MVA to 10-12 MVA emerged in production of Bulk Ferro Alloys, particularly inthe State of Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala, Pondicherry, Goa,Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Meghalaya.
The Indian Ferro Alloy Industry TodaySince liberalization, the Indian Ferro Alloy industry has truly become global.The ferro alloy industry in India has grown far in excess of the growth in thesteel industry and the estimated production capacity of ferro alloys in India ismore than double the domestic demand, with a significant proportion (upto50% in some years) of the ferroalloys being exported. Despite this, the ferroalloy industry operates at an average 65% capacity utilization.The estimated production capacity has crossed 2200 MVA and fresh capacityof around 500 MVA is coming up, mostly in Manganese ferro alloys to feed theproposed steel expansion. Table 1 : The Indian Ferro Alloy Industry Capacity, Current Capacity Units Furnaces MVA mill MT Manganese Alloys 76 161 1182 2.1 Ferro Silicon 29 38 266 0.2 Chrome Alloys 28 53 803 1.3 Noble Ferro Alloys 37 - - 0.04 TOTAL 170 25 2 2251 3.64
Contribution of the Indian Ferro Alloy Industry to the Indian EconomyLike the software industry that propelled India to global fame and made Indiathe hub for software development, properly nurtured, the Indian Ferro Alloyindustry has the potential to make India the hub for ferroalloys to the world.Already, the Indian Ferro Alloy industry is :a. A Valuable Foreign Exchange EarnerIndia is a major ferro alloy exporter and Ferro alloy exports are a majorForeign Export earner. Foreign Exchange Earned from Ferro Alloy Exports in Million USD 1800 1547 548* 1600 1400 1200 1118 *in 3 Qtrs , Apr-Dec’09 1000 800 600 364 400 266 266 200 0 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10Of this over 60%-70% is earned by export of HC Ferro Chrome.b) Earnings from Export of Ferro Alloys ploughed back to society : The earnings from the total sales of Ferro Chrome the Industry has re- invested in the Industry by setting up Captive Power Plants, acquiring Coal Mines, Ore Mines and spending a huge amount on Society by setting up Residential complexes, Schools, Colleges and Hospitals, etc., which has created additional jobs for the people. Ferro Alloy industries are located in remote areas creating islands of prosperity in states of Orissa, Karnataka, West Bengal, Chattisgarh, Kerela & Andhra Pradesh.
c) Electricity generation Electricity generation by the Ferro Chrome Industry through Captive Power Plants is also supplied to the grid, thus increasing availability of power in India. Also, although generation costs for power is not high, the industry pays a high tariff due to cross subsidization to Agriculture, Low Plant Load factor and high T & D losses. The Units have to maintain a minimum demand of 85 % of Power in their operation. This clearly shows that the Industry has paid much more than the normal power tariff applicable for this Industry, which has earned substantial revenue to the State and Central Governmentsd) Industrialization of the eastern region – particularly Orissa, West Bengal and Andhra Pradeshe) Employment to people : It is estimated that a 50k/MT Ferro Alloy plant supports around 750 families around the plant(ie a total of about 60,000 families by the ferro alloy industry in India), and these plants are located in remote areas where there is no other source of employment.The steep increase in power tariff in South Africa and China coupled withincreases in freight, labour, and regulatory costs in China has made the IndianIndustry highly competitive. Decreased Chinese competitiveness has resultedin a sharp reduction in ferroalloy exports from China, which has turned into anet ferroalloy importer since 2009.This presents an opportunity for the Indian Ferro Alloy industry toconsolidate its position as a leading Ferro Alloy exporter to the world.As stated earlier, due to the low capacity utilization of existing capacities andwith new facilities coming up, India has the unique ability to immediatelyscale up production of ferro alloys.India enjoys a freight advantage in markets such as China, Korea & Japan,which are large consumption centres. China, in particular has shown a nearly25% growth in steel production and is still growing.Other advantages include comparable power, labour & inland freight costs tomajor ferroalloy production regions like China and domestic availability ofore.
However, there are some bottlenecks that need to be resolved if India is toclaim its position, namely:1. Infrastructural Bottlenecks Inadequate roads, railway network capacity & ports for handling large scale ore imports & ferroalloy exports. The Government action on encouraging investments for rapid infrastructure development; creation of special economic zones and special freight corridors is a step in the right direction and action needs to be speeded up.2. Transport Bottlenecks & Problem of Transport Union Transportation has been the bane of the ferroalloy industry, due to high cost of transportation, low reliability and frequent disruptions. In many major ferroalloy manufacturing regions, the transport sector is in the clutches of powerful transport unions who do not allow outside trucks in the sector. Consequently transport rates in some sectors are amongst the highest in the world. It is necessary for the industry and the local authorities to jointly tackle.3. Power Availability & Cost Indian average power tariffs are at similar level to China, after steep increase in power tariffs in China recently, which has made the Indian Industry competitive. Also, power sector reforms - allowing for Captive Power Plants & Power Wheeling has made the industry somewhat inured to grid power. However, as small captive power plants are not energy efficient, there is an urgent need to increase grid power generation to support ferroalloy industry growth. Recent power shortages in summer in Eastern India (the hub of Ferro Alloy production) and South India, is also a matter of concern.4. Regulatory Framework The industry needs a regulatory framework that encourages ferroalloy exports for India to consolidate its position as major ferroalloy exporter. Incentives to ferroalloy export hubs by way of priority power allocation, rake availability, and tax structure will help boost ferro alloy exports further.In conclusion, the ferroalloy industry in India is all set to further consolidateits position as the major source of ferroalloys to the world, if the abovebottlenecks are resolved.
Ferro Alloy PlantTapping of a Ferro Alloy Submerged Arc Furnace