The Indian economy appears to be robust while facing global headwinds of runway commodity prices led by oil and natural gas. Notwithstanding these pricing pressures, it is expected to be the world’s fastest-growing economy. The sustainable growth of our economy will require massive upgradation of housing, health, transport, and energy infrastructure. There are key challenges going forward:.
Adherence to the decarbonisation (low carbon) pathways being determined by the Government of India; commitment to implementation by the private sector
Expanding and securing the availability of critical material resources; minerals and metals .
A first-of-its-kind study by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) has identified over a dozen critical mineral resources required for meeting the future needs of the aerospace, automobile, defence, and energy industries (Gupta, Biswas, & Ganesan, 2016).
A pioneering study, titled ‘Environmental and Resource Assessment for Uptake of LC3 in India’s Cement Mix’ by TARA, has identified cement-grade limestone as a mineral resource that will assume criticality in the foreseeable future (TARA, 2020). The current availability of the resource is 14,000 million tonnes. By 2047, additional limestone resources of 9,400 million tonnes will be needed by the cement industry. These resources may be available but would require mining in eco-sensitive zones and inaccessible areas; posing severe environmental risks.
The study further proposes the introduction of Limestone Calcined Clay Cement (LC3); a blend of clinker with 30% calcined clay and 15% non-cement grade limestone. The LC3 cement reduces carbon emissions by 30% and the use of cement grade limestone by 45%; thereby extending the tenure of availability of the critical resources.
Multiple scenarios have been developed that consider different levels of production of LC3 cement. The most ambitious levels project that up to 2,380 million tonnes of clay would be needed. Based on the latest data provided by the Indian Bureau of Mines, India has sufficient resources of China Clay to fully cater to the expected demand for LC3.
The Indian cement industry has set ambitious decarbonisation targets, with the LC3 option considered integral to its pursuits of expansion. With BIS certification of the LC3 under consideration, the industry has already set its sight on the rapid rollout of production.
Gupta, V., Biswas, T., and Ganesan, K. 2016. Critical non-fuel mineral resources for India’s manufacturing sector: A vision for 2030. New Delhi: Council on Energy, Environment and Water. Details available at https://www.ceew.in/publications/critical-non-fuel-mineral-resources-indias-manufacturing-sector, last accessed on 20 July, 2022.
TARA (Society for Technology and Action for Rural Advancement). 2020. Environmental and resource assessment for uptake of LC3 in India’s cement mix. New Delhi: Society for Technology and Action for Rural Advancement (TARA). Details available at https://www.devalt.org/images/L2_ProjectPdfs/Report%20-%20LC3%20Sustainability%20Assessment_ver1.14.pdf?Oid=281, last accessed on 20 July, 2022.
Dr Arun Kumar
The views expressed in the article are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Development Alternatives.
This blog first appeared as an editorial in Development Alternatives Newsletter July, 2022