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An exclusive interview with Mr. Tiwari, Chairman of IRMA, CEO of OCL India

Refwin: What are the main technical features and advantages of India refractories industry?
Indian Refractory industry is no longer limited to Indian promoters as was two-three decade before in past. Many International players have manufacturing bases, hence worlds’ best products are available for customers to choose. The economy of scale, because of increasing consumption volume, makes manufacturing of these products in India cost competitive also.
This of course goes without saying that this advantage is available to those Indian companies also, which keep working on improving efficiencies by adopting innovative processes.
Other advantages are quick delivery, quick product modification based on customers’ process change and continuous monitoring after application at customers’ end.

Refwin: India has become the world's third largest steel producer and is working towards achieving 300 million tonnes target in the next 10 years, what will happen to the demand for refractories?
On any given point of time, production of 300 mil tonne steel in India will increase the overall consumption of refractories from present level. The process technologies adopted for making steel will have great impact in some construction refractories e.g. Finex will not need coke ovens hence refractories used for coke ovens will not be required.
Similarly, extensive use of thin slab casting may lead in reduction in consumption of Alumino –Silicate black refractories etc.
The current production of Indian refractory manufacturers might fulfill the need of this boom to some extent as approx. only 60% capacity is utilized currently, however organic growth and imports cannot be ruled out to meet the demand.

Refwin: As one of BRICS countries, India is attracting more and more foreign investment, including leading refractories players. How do you see this situation and its impact on local players?
Consolidation in businesses is one of the outcome of open market scenario and this has happened in India also in the field of refractories. Foreign investment is a welcome step as it will increase the technological level of product and processes at optimum cost. This will also create bench mark for the domestic Industry. Only those, who will invest in Research and Development in process, product, fuel and application technologies will be able to play key role. However each type of refractory producer having products of desired quality will be able to get its share in meeting the requirement of refractories for 300 Million Tone Steel.

Refwin: As we know, monolithics and environment friendly is the direction of the future refractories industry. Besides this, what can we expect for global refractories technologies?

It is being reported in various forums that quality of raw material is depleting but quality demand of consuming industries is increasing. In this contrast situation, global refractory technology has to focus on use of raw materials of diluted specifications for producing desired products. Research is to be enhanced on use of alternate materials, nano particles application methodology to ensure well designed products for sustainable application.

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