Supply and Demand. India is a net importer of copper and zinc, mainly in the form of mine concentrates, scrap and refined metal. It is a net importer of lead, silver and gold, mainly in metallic form.
India's mine capacity for copper remains about 40,000 tonnes per year, all by Hindustan Copper Ltd. Reduction capacity for sulfide concentrates jumped markedly in the last few years as Hindalco and Vedanta expanded to a total of 800,000 tonnes per year, all fed by imported concentrates; and Hindustan Copper smelts its concentrates and imports more.
Zinc capacity is similarly increasing with expansion of Vedanta's mines and smelter-refinery capacity, approaching one million tonnes per year. Considerable scrap and zinc metal is also imported.
Lead is a zinc mine byproduct and mine and smelter capacity is similarly increasing. Demand is in excess of 150,000 tpy.
Gold mine production is less than 3 tonnes annually, but increasing slightly. In recent years India’s net imports have been about 800 tonnes of gold per year (or about 25 million oz. -- about one-third of the world's new mine production). For comparison, this is three times Nevada’s annual production of about 250 tonnes. It is also a drain of some billions of dollars on India's economy.
Silver mine production in India is about 150 tonnes per year (about 5 million ounces), mainly as a by-product of lead and zinc mines, and demand is generally 2,000 to 3,000 tonnes per year (about 60 to 100 million ounces).
India also imports nearly all of its tungsten, molybdenum, cobalt, platinum group metals and other minor metals; and nearly all of the diamonds cut and polished by thousands of workers in the famous workshops in Gujarat.
(January 1, 2009)