India’s copper demand rebounded and exceeded that of the pre-pandemic period in the 2021-22 fiscal. Driven by a phenomenal rise in power infrastructure projects, construction and industrial offtake, demand increased by 27.5 per cent in 2021-22, the International Copper Association India (ICAI) said.
The demand was 12.5 lakh tonnes (lt) in 2021-22, up from 9.78 lt in 2020-21. “The demand was propelled by strong policy reforms such as Amrit Kaal and PLI. Even the Kusum scheme could help increase demand,” said Mayur Karmarkar, Managing Director, ICAI.
Consumer durable demand
During 2021-22, demand for copper from the power infrastructure sector surged over 75 per cent, while it increased by 25.3 per cent in the building sector and 26.3 per cent in the industrial sector.
“Consumer durable sector’s demand was 12.8 per cent, lower than in other sectors. This means the sector is yet to return to normalcy. With the growing affordability, and the growth in the middle class, the demand for energy-efficient electrical goods and better-quality power will rise,” the ICAI official said. With the growing middle class, there will be more demand for the increasingly affordable energy-efficient electrical goods, he said.
Scrap met 36 per cent of the total copper demand in India, he said, adding that the usage was extraordinarily high thanks to the Material Recycling Association of India’s activities.
The remaining 64 per cent of demand was met through primary copper. Imports of cathodes, rods and tubes stood at 2.97 lt.
“But the quality of products manufactured from scrap is a concern. There are more impurities in the rods produced from copper, which makes safety an issue in its use for electrical purposes,” Karmarkar said.
ICAI has been working on copper data over the past few years and, on Tuesday, it released its annual report for 2021-22.
Rising demand resulted in ramped up production. Integrated producers increased copper wire rod production by 28.7 per cent year-on-year, with more mills coming up to produce rods.
With mining contributing a meagre 2.5 per cent of its copper demand, the country imports copper concentrate, anode and blisters for cathode production. The overall cathode production was 4.85 lt and imports were 1.34 lt.
Domestic scrap (copper and brass) amounted to 3.12 lt with imports being 1.31 lt. Overall, fabricators had 9.79 lt of the material available.
Karmarkar said, “Policies such as Make in India, green initiatives such as electric vehicles, and efforts to become Net Zero [greenhouse gas emissions] by 2070 have led to demand generation across key sectors relevant to copper, resulting in improved demand to pre-pandemic levels.”
He said the country had limited capacities for cathode production, resulting in the import of cathode and “semis” to meet demand. In view of the growing demand, globalisation, and the net-zero ambitions of countries across the globe, he urged the Centre to come up with a copper resource strategy.
On setting up circular economy parks, Karmarkar said it would help attract investments, particularly from corporates. “Once recycling becomes organised, it will attract private investment and the entire economy will stand to benefit,” he said.