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Putting it quite simply, non-ferrous metal are those, which do not have any iron in them. These can be non iron metals or alloys that don’t have a notable amount of iron. The examples can be many. Aluminum, copper, zinc, tin, and nickel are all non-ferrous metals. Alloys such as those containing brass, zinc and copper are also non-ferrous.

Non-ferrous metals and alloys are used in very specific cases. Such as, when the weight requirement is low, more strength is needed, melting points need to be high and the end product needs to be resistant to its environment and chemicals.

Also the non-ferrous metals have some electronic applications which are very distinct. Coppers and its alloys can be used to make rods, sheets, wires, forgings and various castings. Metals like zinc aren’t used alone too often. They can be used to create a pretty good coating though. When dipped in zinc, steel becomes much more durable and likely to survive longer.

When it comes to the production of aluminum, our country ranks 5th. These metal affects our lives on a daily basis. Fortunately, we have no dearth of natural natural resources that can supply us with minerals. Be it gold, bauxite or chlorite.

India’s aluminum production industry comes under the head of ‘non-iron’ based production. This also includes the production of tin, zinc, manganese and copper.

Aluminum is our country’s shining jewel. As long as we keep exploring more avenues in this field and keep diversifying our operations, the growth of our aluminum industry is unlikely to slow down. Be it our foil paper, utensils or electric fittings, we are practically swarming in aluminum.  These are the things to which we have gotten used to. There aren’t many reasons for which we will stop needing aluminum.

The aluminum industry undertakes various other activities such as ore mining, its refining, casting, the alloying and then beig rolled into our trusty foil papers.

Hindalco and Nalco are the strongest players of aluminum in the world. They are making the most money out of it.

Aluminium accounts for around 5 per cent of the total deposits and produces about 0.8 million tone of aluminium in a year. The world wide alumina production competence is around 58 million tones, of which India has 2.7 million tonnes. Most of the bauxite mines lie in Bihar, Karnataka and Orissa.

The total deposits contain a good 5 percent of aluminum earnings in them. Worldwide, the production volume comes up to 58 million tons. Out of this, 2.7 million tones is our doing. India’s major aluminum producing areas are Karnataka, Orissa and Bihar.

India’s Bharat aluminum ltd, Madras aluminum ltd and national aluminum ltd are leading the charge of aluminum trade. Due to its diversified and wide spread applications, aluminum is always in high demand. If you are planning to invest some capital in this area, you are highly unlikely to be disappointed. The scope for money making is huge. Of course, some innovation and creative thinking is always a plus.

In metallurgy, a non-ferrous metal is a metal, including alloys, that does not contain iron (ferrite) in appreciable amounts. Generally more expensive than ferrous metals, non-ferrous metals are used because of desirable properties such as low weight (e.g. aluminium), higher conductivity (e.g. copper), non-magnetic property or resistance to corrosion (e.g. zinc). Some non-ferrous materials are also used in the iron and steel industries.

Ferrous (Fe2+), in chemistry, indicates a divalent iron compound (+2 oxidation state), as opposed to ferric, which indicates a trivalent iron compound (+3 oxidation state). This usage has mostly been deprecated, with current IUPAC nomenclature having names containing the oxidation state in bracketed Roman numerals instead, such as iron (II) oxide for ferrous oxide (FeO), and iron (III) oxide for ferric oxide(Fe2O3).

The Casting process has traversed a long path and impacted human civilization for nearly five millennia. For any metal casting process, selection of right alloy, size, shape, thickness, tolerance, texture, and weight is very vital. . Casting process involves melting the metal to be used, pouring it into a mould, letting it cool and then knocking out the casting.

Forging technology occupies a very important place among all the manufacturing processes as it produces parts with excellent properties and with minimal wastage. Forging involves the use of machinery with a hammering or pressing action to convert basic shapes into a pre-determined form. Forging has the capacity to refine the grain structure and improve the physical properties of the metal.

Market Outlook

Global consumption of primary aluminium ingots during the period January to December 2015 (CY2015) increased to ~57.7 million metric tonnes (MMT) from ~54.3 MMT in CY2014, reflecting a growth rate of ~6.4%. However, consumption growth during H2CY2015 was lower, at ~4.2%. Primary aluminium demand during the second half was adversely impacted by consumption of the prevailing stock of semi-finished and finished products in the market. Consumption growth of primary aluminium metal remained at a similar level of ~4.2% in the first quarter of the current calendar year as well.

Non-Ferrous Metals Market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.91% by the period 2016-2020.

Global non-ferrous metals market and is expected to reach 107 million metric tons by 2020. The growth in this region is attributed to the increasing consumption of non-ferrous metals in India, China, and Japan.

Global consumption of primary Aluminium ingots during the period January to September 2015 increased to ~42.9 million metric tonnes (MMT) from ~40.4 MMT. Global aluminum casting market will grow at a CAGR of nearly 6% by 2020.

Non-Ferrous Metals Market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.91% by the period 2016-2020.

Global non-ferrous metals market and is expected to reach 107 million metric tons by 2020. The growth in this region is attributed to the increasing consumption of non-ferrous metals in India, China, and Japan.

Global consumption of primary Aluminium ingots during the period January to September 2015 increased to ~42.9 million metric tonnes (MMT) from ~40.4 MMT. Global aluminum casting market will grow at a CAGR of nearly 6% by 2020.

During CY2015, apparent global zinc consumption increased to ~13.89 MMT from ~13.78 MMT in CY2014, reflecting a marginal growth rate of ~0.8%. The tepid growth witnessed was largely on account of a slow economic growth in China and ade-growth of consumption in the USA. Going forward, demand growth for refined zinc is expected to remain subdued in CY2016 on the back of an unfavourable demand outlook in major zinc-consuming economies. Nevertheless, the recent infrastructure push in China would support overall growth to an exent.

Driven by rising infrastructure development and growing demand for automotives, steel consumption is expected to reach 104 MT by 2017. It is expected that consumption per capita would increase supported by rapid growth in the industrial sector, and rising infra expenditure projects in railways, roads & highways, etc.

India’s crude steel production grew by 7.4 per cent year-on-year to 95.6 Million tonnes (MT) in 2016. Total production of crude steel during February 2017 grew by 8.5 per cent year-on-year to 8.08 MT.

India’s steel exports grew 150.0 per cent year-on-year to 0.75 MT in February 2017, while steel imports declined 46 per cent year-on-year to 0.49 MT. Total consumption of finished steel grew by 3.4 per cent year-on-year to 76.22 MT during April 2016-February 2017.

  1. Major nonferrous metals include aluminum, copper, lead, and zinc. Non-ferrous are metals other than iron and alloys that contain little to no iron. Other non-ferrous metals include brass, titanium, beryllium, nickel and zinc.
  2. Nonferrous metals are used for structural building that requires less weight, more strength, nonmagnetic properties, higher melting points, or resistance to corrosion. They are also specified for electrical and electronic applications.
  3. Aluminum is noted for its low density and corrosion resistance. Structural components made from aluminum and its alloys are important to the aviation and aerospace industry and other areas of transportation and structural materials.
  4. Copper is a soft, malleable metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. It is used as a conductor of heat and electricity, a building material, and as component of various metal alloys.
  5. Lead is also a soft, malleable metal and is identified as one of the heavy metals. Lead is used in building construction, lead-acid batteries, bullets, weights, and as radiation protection.
  6. Zinc is the fourth most common metal in use, trailing only iron, aluminum, and copper.

India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Strong domestic demand coupled with several reforms that the government has undertaken augurs well to maintain the economic growth momentum going forward. As non-ferrous metals find widespread applications across the economy, the strong growth in GDP provides a tremendous opportunity for the development of the Indian non-ferrous metals industry in the future. A major push is expected to emerge from the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, which aims to increase the manufacturing share of GDP from the present 17 per cent to 25 per cent by the end of 2025. Under this initiative, the government has identified 25 sectors such as Automotive, Power, Defence manufacturing, etc. which have extensive applications of various non-ferrous metals, and therefore, can provide a boost to the industry.

On the global front, the non-ferrous metals industry faced troubled times due to multiple challenges in the recent past such as a slowdown in global economic growth, slowdown in the Chinese economy and high raw material prices. China accounts for half of the consumption of non-ferrous metals like Aluminium, Copper, Zinc and Lead and the slowdown in Chinese demand severely impacted the industry in terms of demand, utilisation, prices and profitability. Although, the slowdown in China has destabilised the industry’s trend, the contribution from other emerging countries are expected to provide support to these metals going forward.

The non-ferrous metals industry in India is expected to show strong growth in the future, better than the trend observed in the last five years which witnessed moderation on account of slowdown in the economy. With a slew of reforms undertaken by the government, the end-use sectors of non-ferrous metals such as Automotive, Electricals, Packaging, Consumer durables, Railways, Ports and Inland waterways, Roadways and Renewable energy are expected to experience the strong growth trajectory. Furthermore, these metals are witnessing increasing applications in the existing sectors as well as exploring many newer applications. Over 2016-17 to 2021-22, the demand for these metals is expected to grow by around 8 per cent in line with strong economic prospects, thrust on manufacturing sector, healthy growth in key end-use segments further aided by rising usage intensity. However, strong government support is required to further strengthen the industry. Efforts need to be focused towards developing domestic downstream and recycling industry in terms of technology, manufacturing quality, building proper infrastructure and curtailing undue import and promote export.

Growth of the non-ferrous metals industry globally

Global non-ferrous metals consumption (in millions tonnes)

Globally, the growth of the non-ferrous metals industry has been closely associated with the economic growth activity due to widespread application of these metals in major spheres of economic activities including infrastructure sectors like construction, power, steel, and automotive. The demand for non-ferrous metals have grown at a steady pace with a CAGR of 2.8 per cent during 2013 to 2016 in line with global GDP growth of 3.4 per cent during the same period.


Aluminium is a highly valued metal due to its properties such as a higher strength to weight ratio, resistance to corrosion, formability, dampness to name a few, which is evident from the fact that it is the fastest growing metal as compared to other non-ferrous metals. Increasing consumption in the automotive sector has proven to be game-changing from an incremental usage perspective for Aluminium, similar to the demand generated by the beverage can market in the past. China continued to be a major consumer of Aluminium accounting for almost 52 per cent of the global consumption. Elsewhere in Asia, consumption showed a declining trend in Japan but is compensated by higher demand from India and the Middle East. North America’s consumption has also firmed up since the global financial crisis.

On the supply side, overcapacity, environmental concerns and historically high level of inventories and falling prices have prompted China and western Aluminium producers to cut production. Supply cuts along with healthy demand growth, especially in emerging countries has reflected in Aluminium prices which recovered since early 2016.


World refined Copper consumption grew at a CAGR of 3 per cent from 2012 to 2016, which was mainly driven by increasing consumption in China, the largest consumer. Despite a slowdown in economic activity and weakness in residential construction in China, growth in Copper consumption was mainly supported by an increase in infrastructure spend, particularly on rail and electricity networks and increased manufacturing output of Copper-intensive products. Demand for Copper in the U.S. was spurred by a favorable macro environment underpinned by increased economic growth, rise in manufacturing output and a strong residential and commercial sector.


Zinc is the fourth most widely used metal globally after steel, Aluminium and Copper. The global refined Zinc usage has grown at a CAGR of 3 per cent during 2012 to 2016. A majority of this growth primarily came from China and India, due to the respective government’s efforts to boost investment in real estate and infrastructure. United States, the second largest Zinc consuming country, has seen a stagnation in consumption. China, which accounts for 47 per cent of the global demand, remains an important factor in Zinc consumption. The subsequent pick-up in manufacturing activity in China has helped in a healthy growth in galvanised steel production, the single largest consumer sector of Zinc.


In Europe and China, two of the largest Lead consumption markets, a strong performance in the automotive sector has resulted in positive demand sentiment for the metal. Further, strong vehicle production along with high penetration of telecom towers contributed to higher demand for Lead. Demand is expected to be supported by factors such as increased production of vehicles, infrastructure development and a heightened focus on renewable energy.

Future potential of the non-ferrous metals industry

Key ingredients for the growth of the non-ferrous industry are strong demand, availability of raw materials, high entrepreneurial quotient of the country, development of the ancillary industry, technology, etc. The prevalence of most of these ingredients in India, provides strong and sustainable growth potential for the non-ferrous metals industry.

In terms of demand, India has strong potential given that the country is expected to be among the fastest growing large economies. Per capita consumption of non-ferrous metals in India is very low as compared to both developed and developing economies, thus leading to tremendous growth potential in the years to come.

Furthermore, the boost to the Indian manufacturing sector due to the government’s campaign ‘Make in India’ is expected to provide an impetus to non-ferrous metals consumption.

The ‘Make in India’ initiative has provided a boost to investments by allowing 100 per cent FDI in major areas of the infrastructure sector such as railways, roadways, ports and inland waterways, aviation, and power. Favourable investment policies will facilitate the growth in the sector which can increase the demand of non-ferrous metals as this sector consumes these metals in large volumes. Further, the enhanced growth in the 25 identified sectors due to the initiatives and policy changes under ‘Make in India’ is expected to have a direct positive impact on the non-ferrous metals industry as these metals have widespread applications in these sectors.