Sterlite Industries (India) finds a huge potential for the use of copper slag in concrete applications. The product is derived from the copper concentrate, the raw material for copper smelter. The copper concentrate consists of copper, iron and sulphur and during the smelting operations, iron is removed as iron silicate which is known as copper slag or ferro sand. Addressing visiting presspersons at the Tuticorin facility of the company recently, Mr. Ramesh Nair, Chief Operating Officer, said a test track road made of slag built in the NH-45B stretch was under technical study by the Central Road Research Institute, New Delhi.

With increasing scarcity of river sand and natural aggregates across the country, the construction sector is under tremendous pressure to explore alternative to these basic construction materials. Mr. Nair said States like Kerala, Maharashtra and Gujarat have already banned river sand mining. Therefore, slag has a potential of getting developed as a suitable alternative material to these natural resources.

Presently, world-wide, about 33 million tonnes of slag is generated annually with India contributing 6-6.5 million tonnes. Sterlite is planning to dispose of 1.8-2.4 million tonnes of slag in the next one year. The company had already started receiving frequent queries and a couple of orders from builders, cement and concrete manufacturers.

Some applications, wherein slag has already been recognised world-wide, are cement and concrete manufacturing, filling material, river embankment, ballast material, abrasive, pavement blocks, road and roofing construction, granules, glass and tiles making. Sterlite has carried out several technical studies for the last 10 years through various laboratories on the physical and chemical properties. These studies have concluded that copper slag is non-leachable, and non-toxic, the COO said.

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