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A copper boost for India’s export future

A copper boost for India’s export future

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From infrastructure development to power transmission, copper plays an important role in shaping growth trajectories of nations around the world, especially developing economies. The unique properties of the metal make it critical for electrical wiring, plumbing, telecommunications, and manufacturing of consumer electronics. As India strives to achieve carbon neutrality goals by 2070, the demand for copper, the third-most used industrial metal after steel and aluminium, is set to witness a steady increase, driven by the renewable energy and electric vehicle sectors.

According to a study, the country’s copper demand saw a rise from 13.1 lakh tonnes in 2022 to 15.2 lakh tonnes in 2023. But the per capita copper use remains low at about 1 kg, compared to the global average of 3.2 kg. Estimates say that as demand grows, the global average could be reached by 2047. However, copper production has struggled to meet the demand.

In India, copper smelting plays an important role in supporting various industries. But more than half the country’s smelting capacity has shut, making India, a net exporter till 2018, dependent on imports. Copper production in FY 2022-23 was 5.55 lakh tonnes against a capacity of 7.85 lakh tonnes, according to the Union Ministry of Mines.

In FY 2023, India imported 1,81,000 tonnes but it is estimated that the country consumed 7,50,000 tonnes of copper. The demand is likely to go up to 1.7 million tonnes by 2027. As a majority of the demand is met through imports, it not only puts a strain on the country’s foreign exchange reserves but also hinders the country’s goal of achieving self-sufficiency in the copper sector. In this scenario, Adani Enterprises’ subsidiary Kutch Copper Limited’s greenfield copper refinery project at Mundra, Gujarat, has the potential to become a gamechanger.

Marking its debut in the metal industry, the Adani Portfolio invested $1.2 billion to set up a copper smelter (0.5 MTPA capacity) in the first phase. The plant, which is being set up in two phases, will have an overall capacity of 1 MTPA. Once fully operational, the plant will have the largest single-location custom smelter, paving way for India to reclaim its net copper exporter status.

Kutch Copper’s plant, on the western coast of India, has a strategic advantage and can cater to international markets. It will produce 5,00,000 tonnes of refined copper per annum in the first phase, along with byproducts like gold, silver, sulphuric acid, and phosphoric acid. The Mundra plant that will create 2,000 direct and 5,000 indirect jobs boasts advanced smelting, refining, and processing technologies, world-class infrastructure, and operational excellence.

Speaking about the project, Mr Gautam Adani, Chairman, Adani Group, said, “Our speed of execution in this ambitious, super-sized project underscores our commitment to take India to the forefront of the global copper sector. We believe the domestic copper industry will play a crucial role in achieving our nation’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2070 by strengthening our green infrastructure hand-in-hand with mature environmental stewardship. When commissioned, our modern smelter will set new benchmarks in copper production, with an enhanced thrust on innovative green technology.”

The Indian government’s focus on the ‘Make in India’ initiative and the country’s burgeoning renewable energy sector presents a huge opportunity for copper smelting as the metal is essential to produce solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicle components. By investing in advanced technologies and fostering sustainable practices, India can create avenues to explore the full potential of its copper smelting industry and emerge as a key player in copper production.


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