The country’s largest refractory solutions maker, RHI Magnestia India, part of Austria-based RHI Magnestia, will invest $40 million (₹333 crore) towards de-bottlenecking, capex, technology additions and for new offerings across its nine-odd manufacturing facilities over the next two years.

The company is also on the look out for new acquisitions, including bidding for new mines (through auctions) or acquisition of existing ones, as it eyes backward integration. 

Gurugram-based RHI Magnestia India has three mines - two of quartz in Odisha, and one of bauxite in Gujarat.

The ₹2,000-crore listed company is a supplier of refractory products, a key consumable used in steel, cement, non-ferrous metals, and the glass industry, among others. 

Further expansion will be towards making products aimed at iron-ore pelletisation and green-steel making. Typically, refractory products serve as a thermal barrier, withstand stress and prevent erosion of vessels due to extremely high temperatures.

According to Stefan Borgas, CEO, RHI Magnestia, investments in India will be through its internal resources.

Volumes in the refractory business have been hit globally, amidst slowing demand, specially in the construction sector, due to inflation and high interest rates. However, India continues to be an “outlier”. 

Domestic demand (in sectors such as steel and cement) remains strong, driven by infrastructure and construction, as compared to the rest of the world, including Europe, the US, South America and China.

“In fact, investments, including technology upgrade, introduction of robotics and AI towards refractory product-making and the new line of offerings on the cards will see an at least 10 per cent increase in capacity utilisation. Our push would be to project India as an export hub for West Asia and other regions,” he told businessline.

The company has a 5,37,000 tonne capacity, and is operating at 65 per cent capacity-utilisation. Its market share is close to 30 per cent; and nearly 10-11 per cent of its revenues go towards exports. The turnover target for FY24 is ₹4,000 crore.

According to Borgas, the company is also evaluating further acquisitions in India, which could include other refractory product-makers, or working mines (for backward integration). “Discussions are on. We will explore acquisitions if they fit the bill,” he said. 

RHI Magnestia India, formed by the integration of three subsidiaries — RHI Clasil, RHI India and Orient Refractories — announced the acquisition of Dalmia-OCL and Hi-Tech Chemicals in the December quarter last year, for which it paid ₹1,708 crore and ₹621 crore, respectively.