India remains largest producer of sponge iron

New Delhi, April 19 | Updated: Apr 20 2005, 05:39am hrs
Keeping the growth momentum in the iron and steel sector, India has emerged as the largest producer of sponge iron. The country produced 9.37 million tonne of sponge iron in 2004 as compared with 7 million tonne in 2003. Venezuela produced 8.09 million tonne in 2004 followed by Mexico which produced 6.65 million tonne and Iran producing 6.4 million tonne of sponge iron. India was also the largest producer of sponge iron in 2003 and 2002.

According to the Sponge Iron Manufacturers Association (SIMA), the gas-based units have grown by 11.47% while the coal-based units have shown a huge growth of 33.85%.

In 2005, we are hoping to achieve 20% growth. However, a lot would depend on the availability of raw material and infrastructure support, Sandeep Jajodia, president of SIMA said.

Three vital inputs for the industry: iron ore, non-coking coal and natural gas have been in short supply. There has been acute shortage of these inputs and we have urged the government to make suitable arrangements to ensure their availability, SS Bhatnagar, director of SIMA said, adding that there could be a new policy on the same.

CIL has already projected a shortage of 35-40 million tonne for the current year. The mining sector must be improved to ensure the steady availability of coal and other inputs.

The country produces about 330 million tonne of coal, with 100 million tonne belonging to B and C grade, which are of superior quality.

Mr Bhatnagar said that the sponge iron industry has urged the government to reserve at least 10% of this for the industry. A decision, however, is yet to be taken.