Indian ceramics eye new heights

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Published: Monday, 23 April 2012

India’s ceramics industry has emerged as a modern, world-class sector, ready to take on global competition. Consultant Ajay Kulshreshtha outlines the country’s main ceramic producers and raw material sources

Over a period of hundreds of years, the Indian ceramics industry has undergone new innovations in product profile, quality and design, and has formed a sizeable industrial base. The market has been sluggish due to the economic slowdown for the last two years, yet India maintained 2.5% of the total global ceramics production. India’s per capita ceramic tile consumption remains low at 0.36m2, however this is set to increase as rural households increase consumption.

The Indian ceramics industry has its base both in large and small-scale sectors with wide variance in type, size, quality and standard. Manufacturing units are spread all over the country. The share of organised sector is characterised by the existence of a few large producers accounting for 55% of the total production. The small and medium industrial sector produces more than 50% of the total market in India, offering a wide range of articles including crockery, artware, sanitarywares, ceramic tiles, and refractory and stoneware pipes among others. Most of the players are grouped together in clusters.

Bikaner in Rajasthan is known as a hub for insulators, while another hub for potteries is Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh. There are two very important hubs which require special mention.

Khurja whiteware cluster:
around 125 years old, the hub is about 85km from Delhi. There are more than 500 ceramic whiteware industries in this region. Khurja supplies a large portion of the ceramics and pottery used in the country and this name has become a brand of its own kind. Many ceramic products manufactured are exported worldwide. Some of the products produced from here are stoneware crockery, sanitaryware, H.T. and L.T. insulators, electro ceramics, decorative wares, toys, figurines and bone china.

Morbi cluster in Gujarat:
India’s newest and most promising ceramic hub, with 300 units making sanitarywares and around 500 making tiles, accounts for 70% of the domestic market’s needs. The region around Morbi is a virtually untapped ceramic zone. It comprises Wankaner, Thangadh, Dhuva/Morbi which form a ceramic triangle. A large number of small-scale ceramic and pottery manufacturing units are located in these areas. Most of the owners are natives of the same places.

These units also cater to the export market (Middle East, Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, etc). The pace of production capacity growth in this region has been explosive and this trend is set to continue for the foreseeable future. The vicinity of the city to major ports (eg. Kandla and Mundra) also lowers the transportation costs and thus helps exporters of ceramics from the region.

State-of-the-art ceramic goods are manufactured in India. The domestic technology is of international standard. During the last two decades, there has been a phenomenal growth in the field of technical ceramics to meet specific demands of industries like high alumina ceramics, cutting tools and other structural ceramics.

Domestic raw materials are preferred due to their economical cost, and their properties match the requirements of the consuming plants. In February 2012, Spanish investors had shown their interest to invest in this hub. The officials from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Economic affairs of Spain met with the representatives of CeraGlass India 2012, an Indian trade fair. This exhibition is going to be held 15-18th December 2012 at Jaipur. The 7th Indian Ceramics exhibition in Ahmedabad, Gujarat was recently concluded successfully in March 2012.

There have been a few initiatives by the Indian ceramists and research scientists for constant technological and quality upgrade to manufacture newer and superior products in these energy-conscious days for better competence in the global market.

As per the data from CSO, petroleum products and clay products account for a share of 15.6% and 12.7%, respectively, in the production of ceramic products.

A major change that overtook the ceramic tile industry was the introduction of vitrified and porcelain tiles. These new entrant products are said to be the tiles of the future; internationally these tiles are already the best sellers. This category of products accounts for 13% of all organsied sales in this industry.

New and conventional wall and floor tiles together account for a $600m industry in India. The Ceramics Technological Institute (CTI), Bangaluru, a national-level institute in R&D, has an objective to support the Indian ceramics industry in modernising its technology and to develop new products of advanced ceramics.

Areas of research include nano technology, separation technology, and microwave processing. Mechanised production has been widely adopted in India and moved the industry forward from the hand-cobbled method employed earlier by the small producers.


Table 1

Installed capacity and production of ceramics in India (2009-2010)

 

 

 

 

Product

SSI Units (no)

Capacity (tpa)

Large units (no)

Capacity (tpa)

Production (in organised sector)

Sanitaryware

210

53,000

7

143,000

431,000 tpa

Ceramic tiles

200

NA

16

2,100,000

340m.m2

Potteryware

1,400

300,000

16

43,000

58,781 tpa

 

 

 

 

 

Source: IBM Yearbook 2010



  Sanitaryware

Sanitaryware comprises ceramic products used for hygienic services, like wash basins. The basic raw materials for sanitaryware are feldspar, ball clay, kaolin and quartz. The major industries include Hindustan Sanitary Industries Ltd, Roca bathroom products, Cera Sanitaryware, and Neycer India.

In 2009-10, sanitaryware exports were to the tune of $3,155m. Sanitaryware has been growing at a rate of 5% per annum during the last two years. There were seven units with an installed capacity of 143,000 tpa in the organised sector and around 210 plants covering a capacity of 53,000 tpa in the small-scale sector. Some units have either been closed or merged with the existing units.

Ceramic tiles

Against 9,512m.m2 of world tile production, India’s share was 355m.m2 or 1.454m tonnes of glazed tiles/ ceramic tiles in 2009-10. The glazed tile industry is on the threshold of rapid growth and is expected to grow at a rate of more than 12% as the Indian economic scenario is changing again.

In 2009-10, there were 16 units in the organised sector with an installed capacity of 2.1m tonnes accounting for about 2.5% of world ceramic tile production, and about 210 units in the SSI sector. Indian tiles are competitive in the international market and are being exported to east and west Asian countries.

The exports during 2009-10 were worth $52m. Morbi, the most promising ceramic tiles manufacturing hub of India, has a total installed capacity of 1.8m ft2 tiles per day. The main products are vitrified tiles, wall tiles, floor tiles, sanitaryware, roofing tiles and mosaic tiles. The current size of the organised sector is about $525m, while the unorganized sector accounts for 70% of the total industry; bearing testimony of the attractive returns from this sector. The size of the unorganised sector is approximately $1,225m.

Potteryware

Potteryware, signifying crockery and tableware, is produced both in the large-scale and the small-scale sectors. There were 16 units in the organised sector with a total installed capacity of about 43,000 tpa in 2009-10. In the small-scale sector, there were over 1,400 plants with a capacity of 300,000 tpa.

Refractories, tableware, insulators are some other ceramic products are also produced on a large scale. The majority of ceramic tableware production is of bone china and stoneware. Production of HT insulators during 2008-09 was about 56,000 tonnes.


Name of Producer

Locations of plants

State

Installed Capacity

In Sq. meters

Asian Granito

Sabrakanta

Gujarat

65,000 per day

Century Tiles

Sabrakanta, Himmat nagar

Gujarat

180,000 per day

Bell Ceramics

Bharuch, Bangalore

Gujarat

14.6m per annum

H & R Johnson India P Ltd (world 7th largest tile producer)

Pen, Dewas, Kunigal Karaikal, Rajkot

Maharashtra, Madya

Pradesh, Karnataka,

Pondicherry, Gujarat

43m* per annum

Kajaria Ceramics

Bhiwadi, Sikandrabad

Rajasthan, Uttar

Pradesh

21m per annum

Murudeshwar Ceramics

Hubli, Karaikal

Karnataka, Pondicherry

24,000 per day

Orient Ceramics & Industries ltd

Sikandrabad

U.P.

29m per annum

Regent Granito India Ltd

Sabrakanta

Gujarat

14,000 per day

Restile Ceramics Ltd

Hydrabad

A.P.

540,000 per annum

Somani Pilkingtons Ltd

Kassar, Kadi

Haryana, Gujarat

20m per annum

Varmora Granito P Ltd

Rajkot

Gujarat

40,000** per day

Sunheart Ceramics Ltd

Wankaner

Gujarat

60,000 per day



* Sales quantity
** Raising its capacity to 85000 sq. meters per day

Raw materials self sufficiency

Clay is known as a certain type of earthy material with a specific property of plasticity when mixed with water. The plasticity of clays is a peculiar character by which they can be molded into any shape and form which they retain even after dehydration, and thereafter in the state of vitrification when acted upon by heat inside the furnace.

Ball clays

Ball clays are greyish-white or light cream, fine-grained clays, which are highly plastic in character. Ball clays are exploited from sedimentary formations, in lumps or in ball-shaped form and are marketed in the raw stage, without any beneficiation. Ball clays are invariably sedimentary in origin and are characterised by high bonding capacity and tensile strength. They usually show high shrinkage on firing. After firing, the bodies of earthen-wares assume a creamish white to greyish colour.

The chemical composition of ball clay is similar to kaolin or china clay, except that it is high in silica and poor in alumina. On firing, the ball clay produces a vitreous substance at a much higher temperature than kaolin.

Total India reserves, calculated in 2010, have been estimated as 83.39m tonnes of which ceramic pottery grade constitutes about 89%.

Andhra Pradesh contains the highest reserves at 62%, followed by Rajasthan which accounts for 38% of total Indian reserves. There are about six principal producers out of which Jaichand Daga, Tahlaram and Sons, Harish Clays and Sunderlal Daga are operating mines in and around Kolayat region in Rajasthan state.

A workable deposit of ball clay occurs in the Bhopa Pamer-ki-Dhani area of Rajasthan. The ball clay is highly plastic, with creamish white colour and fusion temperature at 1,300¡C. Rajasthan continued to be the major producing state accounting 68% of total followed by Andhra Pradesh at 23%.

In Andhra Pradesh state, there are several clay-bearing formations associated with Raghavapuram shales near Dwaraka Tirumala in West Godawari region. The extensive clay formations possess all the properties of ball clay and are suitable for the manufacture of whitewares and high grade ceramics. Padmavati minerals and Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corp. are the main producing companies from this province.

In Gujarat state, the best and rich deposits of ball clay occur in the vicinity of the Than and Kerwari mines. The clay is highly plastic, with white and grey colour. The beds are about 1.2-1.5 metres thick. The clay turns buff, after firing it to 1,030¡C, with all other properties of ideal ball clay.

Highly plastic ball clays also occur in Kerala state. The clay belongs to the Quilon beds and is very fine grained and highly plastic. It has all the physical and chemical properties of imported ball clay. The clay occurring near Peddapakara turns white on firing.


Name of Mineral

Resources in million tons

Production

(in thousand tons)

Growth (%)

Reporting Mines

Share in Ceramic Industry (%)

 

as on 01.04.05

2008 -09

2009 -10

 

In 2009 -10

 

Ball Clay

83.39#

997.676

898.125

(-)10

36 (2)

98

Feldspar

91.00

531.689

455.549

(-)14

111 (44)

81

Kaolin

2,595.66*

2,083.731

2,578.237

24

90 (2)

45

Wollastonite

16.57*

111.581

132.385

19

2 (0)

97

Quartz

3,238*

430.734

506.740

18

137(48)

NA

Dolomite

7,533

5,504.093

5,182.284

(-)06

151 (44)

NA

Talc

312

888.470

835.119

(-)06

120 (0)

6



*As per UNFC system
# As on 01.04.10
Figures in () parenthesis shows number of mines with associated minerals.
Source: IBM mineral yearbook 2010

Kaolin

Kaolin is commercially valued for its whiteness and fine particle size which distinguish it from other clays. India’s estimated reserves are 2.59bn tonnes. Kerala has become a hub for India’s kaolin production accounting for 24% followed by West Bengal with 16%. The important plants among them are English India China Clays Ltd, Kerala Clays and Ceramic Products Ltd, and 20 Microns Ltd.

Ashapura has also set up a state-of-the-art processing plant with 180,000 tpa capacity in Kerala. Thiruvananthpuram and Kollam locations in Kerala state are rich in good-quality china clay deposits. Kerala Ceramics Ltd, Smt. Suhana Beevi, DBH International Ltd, and E A Rashid are some of the main producing companies from this region.

Productive china clay deposits are found in Birbhum, Bankura, Burdwan, Purulia, Jalpaiguri, and Darjeling districts of West Bangal state. Patel Nagar Minerals is the main producer from this province. Shriram Minechem, Shankar lal Gangaram Thakkar, Manoj P Solanki, H D Enterprises are located in the Kachch region of Gujarat state.

Similarly Mohd Shekhar Pathan, Shri Modi Levigated Kaolin are from Rajasthan state with mining operations in Chittorgarh and Neem-ka-Thana respectively. In Singhbhum area of Jharkhand state and Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh state, the major contribution of china clay comes from Bharat Minerals and Regency Ceramics respectively.

In India there are about 15 principal producers accounting for about 84% of total production. In 2009-10, 34 mines including one associated mine (each producing more than 10,000 tonnes annually) accounted for 95% production of kaolin.

The contribution of natural and processed kaolin in 2009-10 was 97% and 3%, as against 95% and 5% in the preceding year. Gujarat was the leading producer accounting for 49% of the total production followed by Kerala with 28%.

Feldspar

Feldspar is the other main constituent in ceramics production, where it is used as a fluxing agent. Pottery and ceramic grades of feldspar reserves are estimated at 26m tonnes. More than 90% of the total production comes from about nineteen mines (including twelve associated mines). Seven principal producers together account for more than 75% of the total production, namely Shri Vijaya Gimpex Mining, Dolphin Feldspar P Ltd, and Gimpex Ltd located in the Vishakhapatam districts of Andhra Pradesh. They produce sodic feldspar, the deposits of which are found associated with pegmatites. Mamata Joshi in Bhilwara district, Laxmi Marble and Modi levigated and Kaolin P Ltd in Neem-ka-Thana locality in Jhunjhunu district are also major producers.

Sadhna Minerals takes the raw ore from the deposits at Nellore mica belt in Andhra Pradesh, comprising a bluish green variety of microcline known as amazonite. Andhra Pradesh is the main producer followed by Rajasthan. The pegmatites of Kalessara and Govindgarh of Ajmer district produce a good amount of undecomposed feldspars, meant for ceramic industries of western India, including Maharashtra and Gujarat. Potassium feldspar obtained from pegmatite is used traditionally as a source for alumina and alkali in ceramic and glass industries which account for more than 90% of consumption.

Wollastonite

Wollastonite’s addition to a ceramic mix introduces both silica and lime combined in the form of a single compound. This mineral has virtually no moisture expansion and therefore, even at extremely low concentrations, effectively reduces moisture expansion of all types of ceramic bodies and thus obviates crazing. Use of this mineral also reduces drying and firing shrinkages.

The entire production was reported from privately held mines in Rajasthan. It is reported that Wolkem India Ltd, a wollastonite mining and processing company, meets 20% of global requirements. In 2009-10 exports of this mineral decreased to 12,880 tonnes from 21,413 tonnes in the preceding year. Exports were mainly to Belgium, Japan, Germany, and Australia.

Quartz

Quartz is the crystalline form of silica. In ceramics quartz is generally used to reduce shrinkage in drying and firing and to impart rigidity to the body. Its production in India in 2009-10 was reported as 507,000 tonnes and there were 89 (48 associated) reporting mines.

There are 12 principal producers of quartz minerals, which accounted for a 70% share of the total output. Andhra Pradesh yielded maximum output (32%), followed by Rajasthan (28%). Shriram Mineral Industries, Dolphin Feldspar Mine, Vijay Gimpex Mining P Ltd, VBC woods distillation P Ltd, Suresh kumar Fakrchand Parmar, Dilipsingh Solanki, and Sheetal Minerals are some of the major quartz producers.

In Rajasthan, the commercial production of quartz is mainly from a pegmatite belt extending roughly from Mazamabad in Jaipur district to Kankroli in Rajsamanad district, through Ajmer, Bhilwara, Pali and Tonk districts. Ceramic whitewares contain about 40% silica, besides other constituents except for bone china in which it is not used at all. The silica serves to provide whiteness, renders the ceramic body to dry easily and provides compatibility between the body and the glass to prevent crazing or peeling.

The main source of silica for this application is silica sand. In addition, silica flour is used in the formulation of ceramic bodies for enamels and frits. Silica flour produced by fine grinding of quartzite, while sandstone or lump quartz is used in enamels.

Dolomite

Dolomite, containing calcium and magnesium, is abundantly available in India. As per Indian government policy, steel grade dolomite is reserved for the steel plants. Around 10-15% of Indian dolomite is used in ceramic tile production.

Rajasthan is considered to be a very good producer of dolomite, fifth in the list of dolomite producing regions. Andhra Pradesh is the leading producer accounting for 30% of India’s total in 2009-10.

Six mines producing more than 200,000 tpa accounted for about 59% of the total production in the same year. In ceramics, supply of dolomite is mainly done by the small mine owners from the unorganised sector.

Talc

Talc is another mineral which is consumed by the ceramic industries; mainly by the sanitarywares, crockery, and tableware sectors, where its smoothness is a very important characteristic. In wall and floor tiles, talc is added from 10-12% in the ceramic formulation.

Rajasthan is the leading producer of talc and accounts for more than 70% of India’s total production. Golcha Group, Associated Soapstone Distributing Co. P Ltd, Katiyar Mining and Industrial Corp., Jai Polymers, Nandini Mineral Industries, Khaitan Industries, B Venkatershwarlu, Darshan Singh Parihar, and Ratanlal Deedwania are some of the major talc producers in India.

As a foreign exchange earner or a global player, the Indian tile industry has captured the attention of the world. India is projected to figure in the top three tile manufacturing countries by 2012.

In order to compete with the larger units currently operating in China and Turkey, India is also now geared up to be driven by economies of scale by setting up larger size units. The union government also recognises the importance of better infrastructure and other key cost-related issues, such as freight, and supply of power and gas, impacting the industry.

Policies are being designed for the availability, consistent supply and reasonable rate for the growth of the ceramics industry. Also, the prevailing anomalies pertaining to basic customs duty on import of ceramic tiles from China and raw materials imported from abroad to be corrected to prevent dumping of tiles.

Ceramics demand is expected to increase with the growth in the housing sector. The Indian rural market itself is a large market, so the thrust on this segment is also being enhanced by favourable excise duties and MRP structure. Piped natural gas will be available soon in Gujarat state, which will encourage more investment. Delhi Mumbai Industrial corridor (DMIC) will provide excellent logistics and transportation infrastructure.

Overall, the Indian ceramic industry has emerged as a major manufacturer and supplier in the global market.

Contributor:
Ajay Kulshreshtha, AK Minerals Consultancy Services, India.