November 15, 2018 / 3:10 AM / a month ago

Birla Copper sees Indian copper demand doubling by 2026

SHANGHAI, Nov 15 (Reuters) - India’s refined copper consumption is set to more than double over the next eight years amid rising demand from the power, auto and consumer sectors, the chief executive of one of the country’s top copper smelters said on Thursday.

The nation’s consumption of the metal is expected to rise to 1.433 million tonnes by 2026 from 650,000 tonnes in 2018, Birla Copper CEO J.C. Laddha told delegates at the Asia Copper Conference in Shanghai.

However, he added that this projection did not include the boost copper may receive from a boom in copper-intensive electric vehicles.

“If you add that, I think by 2026 the total consumption would be 2.5 million tonnes,” Laddha said. Birla Copper is a unit of Hindalco Industries.

“India’s demand for overall copper has risen rapidly over the years and is expected to rise further as a result of various projects like ‘Make in India’ (and) infrastructure investment,” Laddha said.

The government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative is a campaign to boost foreign direct investment into the country.

The nation’s refined copper production is set to hit 843,000 tonnes this year, Laddha said, outstripping demand, which is expected to reach 642,000 tonnes.

But following the forced shutdown of Vedanta Ltd’s 400,000 tonne per year copper smelter in May, production will shrink to 450,000 tonnes in 2019, versus demand of 700,000 tonnes, he said.

The smelter was closed after the Tamil Nadu state government cut power supply to the unit following violent protests over alleged pollution that resulted in the death of 13 people in police firing.

Vedanta has denied that the plant, India’s second biggest copper smelter located in the port city of Thoothukudi, pollutes the area.

Imports from ASEAN countries, Japan and the Middle East are increasing, benefiting from the disruption to supply in India, Laddha said, putting the share of imports at 41 percent currently, versus 28 percent before. (Reporting by Tom Daly Editing by Joseph Radford)

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