Glass production is one of the largest markets for
industrial minerals, consuming high volumes of soda ash, silica
sand, limestone and dolomite. The sector is expected to remain
a major end user of these minerals for the foreseeable future,
as demand for all the three major sub-segments of glass
products – flat glass, container glass and tableware
glass, is expected to register steady growth in coming
India’s glass industry has seen modest growth
in the last three years, having posted double digit growth
rates seen between 2004 and 2012. In the financial year
2015-2016, India’s glass sector expanded by 5.1 %
Often touted as one of the most promising growth markets for
glass minerals due to its current low per capita usage of glass
and large population, the slowdown in India’s
glass market has come as a disappointment to domestic raw
Capacity addition and utilisation in India’s
glass industry has not been commensurate to the
country’s population of 1.28bn, meaning that there
is still significant potential for growth.
Although only the second largest raw material by mass in
glass production, soda ash represents the largest cost
component of all the raw materials used. As such, soda ash
prices often dictate the profitability of glass
Low growth in India’s float and container glass
industries in the last two years has had a negative impact on
soda ash producers in the country, keeping prices low.
Demand for glass from the beverage sector,
infrastructure and real estate have been the main
drivers of growth in India’s glass
industry over the last 10 years.
Growth has been led by the container glass segment,
which accounts for majority of the sales in terms of
volume, according to market research firm TechSci
Research, with around two thirds of demand coming from
the liquor and beer industries, with most of the
remainder consumed in food and pharmaceuticals
In value terms, float glass makes up the majority of
Indian sales and is driven by the real estate
The total size of India’s flat glass
industry is 120,000 tpm, consisting of sales to
architectural, automotive, value-added glass, mirrors
and furniture, which have a market share of 45%, 15%,
15%, 10% and 15%, respectively.
Glasspex, TechSci Research
New capacity additions in the domestic soda ash market,
combined with large and increasing imports from China, are
expected to lead to oversupply and a potential price war in the
Indian soda ash industry in 2017 and most of 2018.
Due to overcapacity in China and the slowdown in its own
glass market, Chinese soda ash producers have moved into export
markets, offering aggressively low prices that are especially
attractive to emerging economies and have been shipping
considerable volumes to India.
Up until the end March this year, anti-dumping duties were
levied on Indian imports of soda ash from some countries
including China. But these tariffs have now expired and with no
trade protection measures currently in place, Chinese producers
are expected to ramp up soda ash exports to India.
India’s soda ash industry is concentrated in
Gujarat, which accounts for about 90% of total national output.
This makes transporting soda ash to glassmakers in other parts
of India quite expensive.
As soda ash is a relatively cheap material, shipping the
mineral over long distances adds significantly to glass
production costs. Where possible, glassmakers and other soda
ash users have established manufacturing bases close to soda
Rohit Surfactants Pvt Ltd, an Indian detergent producer, is
setting up a 500,000 tpa capacity soda ash manufacturing
facility in Gujarat to backward integrate its
"The glass industry is very conscious of soda ash costs, as
it is the most important cost component for glass
manufacturing," Ashok Jain, director at Indian glassmaker
Gujarat Borosil told IM. He said
that the recent weakness in soda ash prices in India has been a
big relief for the country’s glass producers.
"The domestic price of soda ash is higher than it is in the
international market, despite the anti-dumping duty imposed on
imports," he added.
Domestic soda ash prices in India were around India rupee
(INR) 19,600/tonne ($304/tonne*) in March this year, while with
the country’s anti-dumping duty, imported soda ash
prices were in the range of INR 18,000-18,500/tonne
But since the anti-dumping duty expired on 31 March, the gap
between domestic and international soda ash prices is expected
to widen, as imports become much cheaper.
Accounting for more than 70% of total batch composition,
silica sand is the largest mineral by volume used in
India has large resources of silica sand, however the
quality of silica sand from a number of mines is not suitable
for glassmaking due to its high iron content.
India has seen a trend towards vertical integration in its
silica sand sector, with number of specialised silica sand
suppliers, which process sand themselves before selling it on
to glassmakers, springing up in the last decade.
As with soda ash, the state of Gujarat is the leading
producer of silica sand, accounting for 39% the total
production in India during the 2015-16 financial year, followed
by Andhra Pradesh, at 27%; Rajasthan, at 18%; Maharashtra, at
9%; Jharkhand, at 3%; Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, with 1% each,
with the remaining 2% of production coming from Karnataka and
Since the cost of transporting silica sand from mines and
processing units is often higher than the cost of the raw
material itself, most of India’s largest glass
producers have set up their manufacturing plants close to
silica sand resources.
Major glass producers such as Hindustan National Glass,
Gujarat Guardian and France-headquartered Saint-Gobain have
invested in dedicated silica sand beneficiation plants to
process the material specially for their own consumption.
With 1.5 m tonnes of feldspar production in 2015 and
reserves of 45m tonnes, India is self-sufficient in feldspar
for domestic glass production.
The states of Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh are the largest
producers of feldspar in the country, together accounting for
90% of total output.
According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the global
glass industry consumes about 60% of worldwide feldspar
production – a proportion that is reflected in
More than half of the feldspar consumed by the glass
industry goes to container glass.
Globally, Turkey is the largest producer of feldspar,
followed by Italy and China. India, which historically has not
been among the top producers, climbed to joint fourth place
with Thailand in the USGS’ global ranking last
year behind Turkey, Italy and China, overtaking other key
feldspar producing nations such as France, Iran and Spain.
optical glass blocks.
The Indian glass industry used 105,217 tonnes dolomite in
the financial year 2015-16, up slightly from the 102,700 tonnes
it consumed in 2014-15, according to provisional data from the
Indian Bureau of Mines.
Despite ample availability of dolomite in the country, India
imports significant volumes of dolomite, due to a lack of
domestic mine production.
*Conversions made April 2017