Our Bureau – The Hindu BusinessLine

Clipped from: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com

The key input is available in abundance in India

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been quite ‘vocal for being local’, the struggling paint industry has been importing Titanium di Oxide (TiO2) worth ₹7,500 crore per annum from China despite huge availability of this key raw material in India.

The paint industry was sourcing TiO2 domestically before the government banned private sector companies from beach sand mineral mining in 2016.

Two years later, the government decided to allow only the Indian Rare Earths Ltd, a 68-year-old undertaking falling under the ambit of the Department of Atomic Energy, to produce the minerals.

TiO2 is derived from ilmenite which is available in abundance in India. Of the world Ilmenite production of 175 lakh tonnes, India exports about 11 lakh tonnes per annum.

On the other hand, the domestic demand for Ti02 from paint industry is about 2.20 lakh tonnes per annum while the production is 50,000 tonnes per annum.

It means that India had the raw material Ilmenite for producing TiO2 but preferred importing it, said a senior official of leading paint company.

The domestic paint industry is already grappling with sluggishness in real estate and automobile sectors besides the volatile crude prices and adverse forex movements.

Jayapaul, General Secretary of the Beach Mineral Producers Association, said instead of pursuing the canalisation agenda, the government should facilitate the Indian paint companies to source TiO2 domestically under the ‘Make in India’ initiative and curb imports.

In fact, about 300 to 400 ingredients are used in making of decorative paints and about 20 per cent of raw materials are imported. Over 60 per cent of the input costs of paint manufacturing go into procuring raw materials.

Of this, the major raw material, TiO2, a white pigment, constitutes about 12-35 per cent and is derived from ilmenite.

The significant earth minerals found in India include ilmenite, sillimanite, garnet, zircon, monazite and rutile, collectively called Beach Sand Minerals (BSM). India has almost 35 per cent of the world’s total beach sand mineral deposits.

Ideally, he said the government should allow paint manufacturers to source Ti02 from their captive production or facilitate sourcing it locally as was the case earlier.

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