Metals Smelting

Mini Steel Plants

In addition to the integrated steel plants, a large number of decentralised secondary units produce steel by using steel scrap/sponge iron as raw material and electric arc furnace and induction furnace for processing. With capacity varying from ten thousand to five lakh tonnes, these are known as mini steel plants. It is easy to construct such plants and their gestation period is short. While integrated steel plants mainly produce mild steel in bulk, the mini steel plants produce mild steel as well as alloy steel including stainless steel. Most of the mini steel plants are located in areas far away from the integrated steel plants so that they can meet the local demands there.

Aluminium Smelting

Aluminium smelting is the second important metallurgical industry of India, next only to iron and steel industry. Localisation of this industry depends upon the availability of bauxite (as 6 tons of bauxite are required to produce one ton of aluminium) and cheap hydroelectricity in large quantity.

Manufacturing of aluminium metal commenced in 1886 and fabrication of utensils from imported metal started in 1929. Indian Aluminium Company started its production in 1938. The credit for the phenomenal growth goes to the Aluminium Corporation of India Ltd. It was formed in 1937 as a public limited company and its plant at Jaykaynagar in West Bengal started production of alumina in 1942 and that of aluminium in 1944. The Indian Aluminium Company Ltd. (INDAL) started fabrication of sheets from imported alumina in 1943 and production of alumina from indigenous bauxite in 1948. Its plant was set up at Alupuram in Kerala. Two more plants at Hirakund in Odisha and Renukut in Uttar Pradesh were established by Indian Aluminium Company Ltd. (INDAL) and Hindustan Aluminium Corporation (HINDALCO) respectively.

The Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd. (BALCO) came into being in 1965. Its first plant with a capacity of one lakh tonnes was set up at Korba in Chhattisgarh. The second plant by this company was established at Ratnagiri in Maharasthra. Madras Aluminium Company Ltd. (MALCO) went into operation in 1965. Its plant is situated at Mettur. The National Aluminium Company Ltd. (NALCO) came into being in 1981. It has set up an integrated aluminium plant at Damanjodi near Jeypur in Koraput district of Odisha. This is the largest complex in India.

The smelter with a capacity of about 2,18,000 tonnes a year has been set up at Angul in Dhenkanal district.

Copper Smelting

Indian Copper Corporation was wet up in 1924 and a plant was set up at Ghatsila in Singhbhum district of Jharkhand. The Hindustan Copper Ltd. came into being in 1967. It took over Indian Copper Corporation in 1972. The Khetri Copper Complex at Khetri has been erected by Hindustan Copper Ltd. It is an integrated copper mining-cum-metallurgical plant. The smelter was commissioned for large scale production of electrolytic copper in 1974. Agnigundala Copper-Lead Project in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh has also been set up.

Sterile Industries is a private sector company which uses imported copper concentrates to produce cathodes. Its smelting plant was commissioned at Tuticorin (Tamil Nadu) in 1997-98.

Birla Copper Ltd. is a division of Indo-Gulf Fertilisers which has set-up a copper project at Dahej in Gujarat. Swil Copper Ltd. set up plant at Bharuch in Gujarat under the technical assistance from Boliden of Sweden. The other copper smelting projects include Rakha Copper Project (Singhbhum-Maubhandar), Darih Copper Project in Alwar (Rajasthan) and Chandwari Copper Project in Jhunjhunu (Rajasthan).

Lead and Zinc Smelting

Lead

The first lead smelting plant was set up at Tundoo near Dhanbad (Jharkhand) in 1942-43. It was taken ones by Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL), a public sector enterprise in 1965. The HZL has set up another plant at Vishakhapa tnam. It is primarily based upon the imported lead concentrates although some ore is obtained from Agnigundala also. The lead -zinc complex at Chanderiya was constructed in 1991 under the British aid programme. Indian Lead Ltd. (ILL) is a new plant with a rated capacity of 2,4000 tonnes of lead per annum.

Zinc

At present, there are four zinc smelters in the country, one each at Alwaye (Kerala), Debari and Chanderia (Rajasthan) and Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh).

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