India is rich in natural resources. Minerals constitute the back-bone of economic growth of any nation and India has been eminently endowed with this gift of nature. There is much evidence that exploitation of minerals like coal, iron-ore, copper, lead-zinc has been going on in the country from time immemorial. Natural stones like granite and marble are capable of taking a high polish and are therefore used as decorative stones for cladding purpose in the construction industry, as well as for monumental and memorial work. Marble carries a status symbol of luxury and it gives a long-term benefit to one who has purchased it. This is so because it is a very durable stone. The marble tiles can be used for indoor and outdoor decorations of your home. Floors, countertops, fireplaces, porticos of large or small buildings can be made elegant and luxuriant by marble. Large buildings, monuments, mansions, multi-storied buildings make use of this stone for adding that elegant decorative touch.
Since granite is a hard rock, special grinding and polishing heads are used for rapidly grinding and polishing the slabs of granite. For polishing soft stones like marble, it is necessary to have a complete surface to surface contact of the abrasive and marble. The basic principle of polishing any natural stone is to hone the surface of the stone by progressively using finer mesh of abrasives until the natural luster of the stone is obtained. A polished piece of natural stone is capable of reflecting a major portion of the light falling on it. In most modem stone processing plants, bonded abrasives are used for grinding and polishing natural stones. India is largely self sufficient in most of the minerals which include barytes, bauxite, chromite, dolomite, fluorspar, gypsum, iron ore, kyanite, limestone, manganese ore, magnesite, sillimanite, etc. except the minerals like copper, asbestos, lead and zinc, natural phosphates, sulphur and crude petroleum, in which domestic production meets the demand only partially.
India has one of the largest reserves of granite in the world and exported Rs 2,600 crore (Rs 26 billion) worth of the stone last year. Granite exports this fiscal are expected to touch Rs 2,800 crore (Rs 28 billion) and nearly one-fourth of these exports is accounted for by monument stones.
Indian granite exports have declined 33 per cent between 2006-07 and 2008-09. The sector, which relies heavily on American and European demand, was among the first to feel the heat of the sub-prime crisis. Its export revenues fell steeply in 2007-08, even before there were visible signs of a slowdown in Indian housing and industry. What perhaps explains the increase in volumes in 2007-08 is that polished granite, which commands a better price, was substituted by semi-finished blocks. Yet, prices in the latter category remained unattractive, reflecting the severity of the recession. Volumes increased by 10.2 per cent in 2007-08 over the previous year, while revenue earned from exports decreased by 17.6 per cent this year. The decline in export earnings and volumes was more pronounced in 2008-09. The export of polished granites blocks and slabs more than halved in 2008-09 at 2.75 lakh tonnes compared with 5.52 lakh tonnes in 2007, while in 2007-08 it was 4.13 lakh tonnes. Export revenue in this segment declined 51.9 per cent – more than the sector as a whole – to Rs 862.63 crore 2008-09 from Rs 1,791.98 crore in 2006-07. In 2007-08, it was Rs 1,332.56 crore. However, the export of semi-finished blocks to China has not been as badly affected. The export volumes of crude or roughly trimmed granite increased to 25.63 lakh tonnes in 2008 from 21.47 lakh tonnes in 2007. In 2009, it declined to 23.92 lakh tonnes. Exports revenue largely remained flat at Rs 1478.95 crore in 2009, compared with RS 1479.44 crore in 2008. In 2007, it was Rs 1703.37 crore. Granite accounts for 10 per cent of India’s minerals’ output. Over the last three decades the Indian granite industry has modernized to global standards. Sculptures and monuments made in India are being exported all over the world.
About 85-90 per cent of the total granite production in the country is for exports. So after this recession period over the industry will again regain its demand .This is the best time for an entrepreneur to venture into this sector.
Coming to gypsum products in India, gypsum has proved to be a miraculous material aiding interior construction. Gypsum surface plaster is one form that has caught the attention on the sector and is growing in popularity. In recent years, the construction sector has witnessed a number of new trends, technology advancements and innovations across applications, all aimed at making construction faster and delivering higher performance. The industry of cement and gypsum products in India is the second biggest manufacturer of high grade cement in the whole world. The cement and gypsum products industry in India consists of over 300 small cement plants and around 130 large cement plants with the total production capacity of more than 167.36 million tons. The different varieties of cement manufactured in India are Oil Well cement, White cement, Portland Pozzolana cement, and Ordinary Portland cement.
Some of international companies having presence in cement and gypsum products industry in India are: Lafarge, Italcementi, Heidelberg Cements, and Holcim.