The Indian Copper Industry

The Indian copper industry grew by nearly 50% in 2011-12. India has become a net exporter of copper after being a net importer during the last decade, even as the country is not a major producer of copper ore, but produces the refined forms of copper. About a decade ago, the Indian copper industry consisted of a single state owned company and now the copper industry in India takes up about 3% of the global market for copper.

In 2013, India's copper demand is estimated to grow by at least 7-8% - following a similar forecast in 2012, fed by 'the power sector. The country's power generation sector is likely to make a huge investment with 150 power projects for the various stages of installation. India's cumulative copper production during the period of January-May 2012 had reported a significant growth of 8.1%, reaching to 2378000 tonnes, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The most favorable contributing factors for the growth of the Indian copper industry include changes in global usage, industrial development in India, domestic increases in the construction, power, telecommunications and automobile sectors. Copper is used broadly in the manufacture of electrical machinery, building, cabling for power and telecommunications, and automobiles. This metal is also used for making brass and other similar alloys.

However, it is the electrical industry that consumes an appreciable bulk of the total amount of copper produced in the world. The industry imports raw copper and exports finished products. India imports copper ore from Chile, Indonesia, Australia, and Canada. Available figures also suggest that India exports around 400,000 tons of copper which includes raw copper.

The most favorable contributing factors for the growth of Indian Copper industry include changes in global usage, industrial development in India~ and domestic increases in the construction, power and telecommunications, and automobile sectors. The size of Indian Copper Industry is around 4 lakh tons, which as percentage of world copper market is 3%. India is emerging as net exporter of copper from the status of net importer on account of rise in production by three companies. Copper goes into various uses such as building, cabling for power and telecommunications, automobiles etc. The two major states owned telecommunications service providers namely the BSNL and MTNL have consumed 10% of the country's copper production.

Growing trend in the building construction and automobile sector is expected to keep demand of copper high. The industry is affected by the price trends of copper, market performance, import/export scenario, the physical market trends, demand for copper, and of course, a market forecast.

The wire and cable industry has moved from being a small industry 20 years back to a very large industry over the last decade. Although it is a volume driven product, it has a lot of quality and technical particulars. Over a period of time, the industry has moved from the unorganized to organized sector. Still there are many unorganized units of copper ~ire drawing in DelhilNCR area. However, about 35% of this industry has moved from the unorganized sector. Requirement like brand and quality perception are key in this Rs.15,000 Cr. industry.

The wire and cable industry comprises 40% of the entire electrical industry, which is expected to double in size over the next five years. The industry is growing at a CAGR of 15% as a result of growth in the power and infrastructure segments. It is expected to grow at similar rate for the next five years. The government's emphasis on the power sector reforms and infrastructure will further drive the growth.


  • Indian copper industry needs to increase the pace of exploration and conversion of resources into reserves since according to research firm Brook Hunt, India's copper consumption will exceed that of Japan by 2015 and Germany by 2018. India also produces only 5% of the demand in the country for copper concentrates and the rest is imported.
  • The rush for resources with China acquiring overseas Copper assets for its feedstock supply. India will have to respond to this challenge in all forms.
  • Reorganization of copper scraps industry so that they adopt proper technology for collection, segregation and production of refined copper. The copper per capita consumption of 0.55 kg also fares poorly when compared with global peers and especially with China (5.5 kg).
  • India also does not have vast copper reserves and the stagnant production is reflective of this fact. The current resources 'of copper in the country is equivalent to 5 years of Current production capacity.


  • A market for Copper reclamation and recycling may emerge and could prove to be highly lucrative. Copper is a limited resource and like many metals can be recycled. Because Copper consumption can increase recycling opportunities. Copper recycling may flourish in countries that consume large amounts of Copper.
  • Copper's natural germicidal and fungicidal effects may expand its uses to areas such as space travel, where long-term explorations and limited cargo space may require certain products to have self cleaning properties to avoid disease transmission in confined spaces.
  • Replacing stainless, steel hospital fixtures with copper ones could dramatically hamper the survival and spread of antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile, according to a study conducted by researchers from Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, England.
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