By Eric Onstad
BARCELONA (Reuters) – The aluminium sector in India is a bright spot in an otherwise flat to downbeat global picture as the government rolls out infrastructure and industry seeks to satisfy growing demand, an executive said on Thursday.
India is already the world’s second biggest aluminium producer and third biggest consumer, with demand set to double over the next decade, Nilesh Koul, an executive with Hindalco Industries Ltd, said during the Fastmarkets aluminium conference in Barcelona.
“The energy in India right now is incredible,” Koul, CEO of the group’s downstream business, told Reuters.
He returned to his home country after five years working in Switzerland and many other expatriates are also moving back to India, he added.
India is due to ramp up metals consumption as China did, Koul added.
India’s per capita aluminium consumption is only 3.1 kg compared to the world average of 12 kg and China’s at 31.7, he said.
As China seeks to revive its economy and the West worries about tipping into recession, the Indian government is investing in infrastructure such as railways and airports, while housing construction and the auto industries are also booming, he said.
Aluminium demand in India is expected to jump to 9 million metric tons by 2033 from about 4.5 million this year, Koul said.
The country faces challenges, however, in terms of project approvals, quality standards and shortages of skilled workers, he said.
Recently a Hindalco expansion project of a flat rolled products plant was delayed this year when only about half of the required 3,000 skilled labourers could be recruited, he said.
“The private sector needs to dial up the efforts on training, not only the government.”
(Reporting by Eric Onstad; editing by David Evans)