The Growth of Cement Industry in India

India is the second largest producer of cement around the world says an independent research.  The cement industries of India became a significant part of its economy in 1982 and granted employment to more than a million people, directly or indirectly. No wonder, the Indian cement industry has attracted the huge investors, both from Indian as well as the foreign experts.

India has a lot of potential for developing the infrastructure and construction sector and the cement sector is expected to largely benefit from it. Due to some of the recent major initiatives such as development of smart cities, it is expected to provide a major boost to the sector.

Recently, several foreign players have invested in the country and expected to be the contributor of major developments in the country aided by suitable government foreign initiatives. The growth of this sector is predicated because of the ready availability of the raw materials for making cement such as limestone and coal (Furnace).

Production Capacity

Presently, the biggest demand drivers of cement are these housing and real estate sectors, accounting for about sixty-five per cent of the total consumption in India. Some of the other leading consumers of cement include public infrastructure at twenty per cent and industrial development at fifteen per cent.

India’s overall cement production capacity was nearly four hundred and sixty million tonnes as of 2017-18. Its consumption is expected to grow by five per cent in the financial year of 2019 supported by pick-up in the housing segment and higher infrastructure spending. Currently, the industry is planning to produce three hundred megatons in order to meet its domestic demand and five megatons for exports requirement.

The Indian cement industry is currently dominated by certain companies. The top twenty cement organizations account for almost seventy per cent of the total cement production of the country. With four hundred small plants accounting for the rest, a total of two hundred large cement plants account for a cumulative installed capacity of over four hundred million tonnes. Out of these two hundred large cement plants, seventy-seven are located in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.

Due to the increasing construction and infrastructural activities, the cement sector in India has been viewing many investments and developments in recent times. The government has been approving their investment schemes; in order to help the private sector companies thrive in the industry.  The government of India has also announced the budget in setting up an affordable housing fund of Rs 25,000 crore in 2018-19 under the national housing bank which will be utilized for easing credit to homebuyers. This action is expected to boost the demand of cement from the housing segment. The sector will grow and take India’s economy forward along with it, with the help of the government in terms of friendlier laws, lower taxation, and increased infrastructure spending. Additionally, so far the cement industry is expected to reach 550-600 million tonnes per annum by the year 2025 due to the increasing demands of various sectors such as housing, commercial construction and industrial construction,

Emissions and Substitution

The limestone materials including clay is heated in a huge furnace with high temperatures in manufacturing Portland cement, so that they fuse without melting to give clinker. “This is the utmost CO2-intensive part of the whole process. As the carbon dioxide comes both from the burning of the fuel needed to create that temperature and due to the breakdown of limestone into calcium oxide and carbon dioxide. The later part accounts for 60% of the CO2 emissions in manufacture of cement,” says Prof. Scrivener, Editor-in chief of Cement and Concrete research. The ultimate thing to do would be to substitute CO2-intensive clinker with a different material.

Nowadays, fly ash – a waste produced in the burning of coal is used for producing energy and is also used in the manufacture of blended cement in India. On the other hand, this is been used in limited proportions. Therefore, to effectively reduce emissions, more clinker has to be substituted with calcined clay and limestone. So, this reduces emissions by over 30% with respect to Portland cement.

According to independent research, the professionals compared the strength of the various LC3 samples with Ordinary Portland Cement and Portland Pozzolanic Cement – a variation of OPC in which locally available fly ash was added. Finally it is found that the strength of the LC3 made with low quality clay is comparable to the OPC and the samples containing superior quality clay of LC3 is higher than the OPC.

In the near future, India might become a leader in exporting clinker and gray cement to the Middle East, Africa, and other developing nations around the world. The cement plants that are located near the ports will have an upper hand during exporting and will logistically be well armed to face stiff competition from cement plants in the interior of the country.

In addition to this, owing to the profit margins and steady demand, numbers of foreign players are expecting to enter the cement sector. Plus, the domestic cement companies might go for global listings either through the FCCB route or the GDR route.