The Indian Refractory Industry is more than a century old. With the passage of time it has made considerable improvements both in terms of volume of production & quality of products. The strengths of the Indian Refractory Industry are its assets like -
Although non-ferrous consuming industries of refractories are there in a significant number but the steel industry being the major consumer of the refractory products (ref the ‘Sector wise Refractory Consumption’ Table), the demand - supply pattern of refractories have invariably been influenced by the technological & production changes in the Steel Industry. In India the first Refractory manufacturing unit was set up at Raniganj in 1874 by Burn & Company (now Burn Standard Co. Ltd) to cater to the needs of Ordinance Factory, Railway workshops, Calcutta mint, Foundries etc. With the setting up of Tata Steel and Indian Iron & Steel Company in the beginning of the century the demand of refractories increased. As a result several refractory manufacturing units were set up like - Kumardhubi Fireclay & Silica Works (KFS), Bihar Firebricks, Reliance Firebricks etc. After independence of India a number of integrated steel plants were set up by Hindustan Steel (now SAIL) at Durgapur, Bhilai, Rourkela and Tata Steel also doubled its capacity with technology up-gradation. To meet their requirements Burn & Co. Ltd expanded their manufacturing capacity and set up more units in West Bengal, Bihar, MP and Tamil Nadu. A number of small - medium refractory units came in and around Asansol - Durgapur - Chirkunda - Dhanbad belt viz. Bihar Pottery at Rupnarainpur, National Refractory at Salanpur, Hindustan Refractory at Durgapur, India Refractories (later on Kesoram Refractories & now ORIND Bengal) at Kulti, Harry Refractories at Kalubathan, Maithan Ceramics & Valley Refractories at Chirkunda etc just to name a few. Several large scale refractory plants were set up during this period with latest know-how like - Belpahar Refractories (now Tata Refractories Limited), Orissa Cement (now OCL India Ltd), Orissa Industries (ORIND), ACC Refractories (Ace Refractories Ltd), India Firebricks & Insulation etc. During 70’s with the setting up of Bokaro Steel Plant and modernization / expansion of major steel plants the demand of refractories went up. Few more units came up in private & public sectors like - Ipitata Refractories (now Nilachal Refractories), Raasi Refractories Ltd, Indo Flogate (IFGL), Bharat Refractories etc. Unfortunately with the change in steel technology and demand of better type of refractories by other industries, requirement of conventional refractories reduced considerably resulting in a closure of some of these old Refractory units. The introduction of L.D. converters, continuous casting and secondary steel making processes in India demanded refractory products of a highly sophisticated and resilient kind. From 80’s onwards the demand for sophisticated refractories started to increase as in order to increase their campaign life & reduce cost of production. Besides Steel, other industries like - Cement, Hydrocarbon, Sponge iron, Glass, Aluminium etc also started to opt for such new generation refractories in place of the conventional types. Again, in the new millennium since India has been witnessing a spurt in the growth of steel production by capacity enhancement of most of the Integrated Steel Plants as well as due to the upcoming of quite a few big Integrated Steel Plants in the private sector. Because of this growing demand of Refractories within the country and as a result of post liberalization era (open door business policy taken by the Indian Govt) not only some of the existing large scale Refractory Plants have either made tie-ups with some other international giant or even opted for new acquisitions in another country but also, the Indian Refractory Industry as whole needed to invest further in their R&D activities, improve manufacturing technology both in terms of quality & quantity in tandem with the changes of the consuming industries. Also refer to the artcle Milestones in the Development of Refractories in India.
- Availability of many raw materials in the country itself.
- Availability of skilled & qualified manpower at a cheap rate.
- Presence of a continuously increasing, big market within the country itself.
These resources have been fully exploited by the refractory manufacturers to derive maximum benefits from them. According to a recent data at present, the Refractory Industry in India has an installed capacity of 1.7 million metric tons per annum from about 90 refractory units out of which 30 large and medium and 60 small scale units with a capital investment of about Rs.800 crores & providing direct employment to more than 30000 people engaged in manufacturing various grades of refractories as per international standards and qualities. The annual production from these units has been in the range of 0.70 million tons, which implies capacity utilization of less than 50% of the installed capacity. This figure reflects that the trend of refractory production in India is almost comparable with the world trend where total installed capacity of about 2000 companies is roughly 40 million tons and the production is about 20 million tons which is almost 50% of capacity utilization.
Sector wise consumption of Refractories
|Sector||Refractory Consumption (%)|
The Table below presents an account of some of the important events in the growth of the Indian Refractory Industry.
|Year||Important Events in the Refractory Industry|
|1874||First Refractory unit by Burn & Company at Raniganj|
|1905||Kumardhubi Fireclay & Silica Works (KFS) at Chirkunda started production.|
|1934||Parashuram Pottery Works at Morvi.|
|1940||Basic Brick production started at Tata Steel.|
|1949||Harry Refractories at Kalubathan near Dhanbad.|
|1957||OCL established with Dr. C. Otto & Co. (WG).|
|1958||Belpahar Refractories in collaboration with Didier Werke (WG).|
|1962||India Refractories established in collaboration with Pragnovist, Czeckoslovakia|
|1963||ORIND with the help of Harbison Waker (USA).|
|1966||Carborundum Unioversal with Carborundum Co (USA)|
|1973||Rajhans Refractories Pvt. Ltd, Katrasgargh.|
|1974||Bharat Refractories (BRL)|
|1970's||Maithan Ceramics, Valley Refractories, Perfect Refractories, etc.|
|1980's||Indo Flogates, SNCCIL, IPITATA Refractories, Orient Abrasive, Orient Cerawool, Raasi Refractory, VRW Refract, Castwell, Refractory Specialities, Mahakoshal Ceramics, etc|
|1990's||Vesuvius India Ltd, Katni Tile Works, SKG Refract, Pacific Refract, Sarvesh Refract etc|