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Three-day event marks formal inauguration of Imerys’ milestone calcium aluminate plant in Vizag, India

Since the launch of the first commercial sales a year ago, Imerys’ calcium aluminate plant in Vizag has brought the Group closer to customers in India and is supporting the country’s fast growing economic development.

Inauguration of Imerys Vizag plant in India

On 12 October, Imerys India hosted a formal inauguration of its calcium aluminate plant in Vizag to celebrate its commitment to the Indian market and growth in the country. Dedicated to the refractory and infrastructure markets, this crucial asset is the single largest site and investment for Imerys’ refractory, abrasives and construction business segment. 

Key political, business, customer, employee and community stakeholders joined in the celebration. This high-profile group included the Ambassador of France to India Emmanuel Lenain and President of the World Refractory Association Parmod Sagar. 

The event began with a plant tour of Vizag led by Emmanuel Lenain – who also gave the inaugural address for the event. This was followed by a lamp lighting ceremony and plaque unveiling, and a welcome address from Segi Idicula, Director of Imerys Vizag.

Segi says: “We had been looking forward to this celebration for a long time, so it was a great feeling to finally bring everyone together to celebrate and announce in a big way to our customers and stakeholders that we are in the country.”

“The Indian government has been promoting manufacturing in India, so the commissioning of our plant has been welcome. With India’s economy growing at such a fast rate, we are securing our position at the right time, and we feel very happy to be here.”

At the event, Phillipe Bourg, our Senior Vice-President for the Refractory, Abrasives and Construction business area, gave an overview on Imerys and its position in India, and Parmod Sagar also gave a speech on the importance of the refractory industry worldwide and in India. 

Imerys’ calcium aluminate plant in Vizag, India
Formal inauguration of Imerys’ calcium aluminate plant in Vizag, India

Using remote commissioning technology to enable progress 

Opening the plant was a significant achievement for many reasons. For one, the plant was commissioned during Covid-19, via remote technology. Imerys’ experienced local team in India was virtually supported by expert colleagues at the Imerys Technical Centre in Lyon, France. Engineers in India wore helmet-mounted cameras, which gave colleagues in Lyon a real-time view of what they were seeing, allowing for quick and precise responses to issues. 

Over the past year, teams in India, France and the UK worked virtually to finalize the project and deliver it on time, providing a great example of the practical application of Industry 4.0 technology. 

Another cause for celebration is the fact that the plant specializes in making SECAR calcium aluminate binders and additives – a popular range used worldwide by Imerys’ customers. Until the Vizag plant began operating, customers in India had to rely on imports. Now, SECAR is produced locally, easing logistics issues, cutting lead times to less than one week, and removing costs associated with customs duty. 

“In the Vizag plant, Imerys’ industry-leading technical and manufacturing standards are applied to make bespoke products to meet the specific needs of the Indian refractory and construction industries. says, Segi. “Furthermore, the well known global brand, Secar 71, developed by Imerys' scientists is manufactured in this plant to meet the high end applications.” 

India is the second largest steel manufacturer in the world, seeing unprecedented steel demand. While steel grows, so too will customers in the refractory business and the demand for calcium aluminate binders

Recognizing this, on 14 October Imerys held a technical workshop on the opportunities for and future prospects of refractory raw materials. This was a dedicated customer day, with guests comprising technical and purchasing representatives from the Group’s refractory customers. 

Philippe Bourg and Chris Parr inaugurate Vizag plant
Philippe Bourg (on the right), Senior Vice-President for Refractory, Abrasives and Construction (RAC) and Chris Parr (on the left), S&T Vice-President for RAC

Supporting job creation in India’s refractory sector 

The importance of job creation through the new cannot be understated. The Vizag plant employs 100 people – 95% local hires – who, upon starting, received robust training conducted inside and outside of India. A further 100 indirect employees help to take care of security, gardening, cleaning services.

A dedicated day was held for employees and their families to celebrate the inauguration, and included speeches of thanks, an awards ceremony, gift giving and games. 

“Having a dedicated employee day was very important to us, as our people gave so much of their time and effort to make the Vizag plant a big success,” concludes Philippe Bourg.

“There are not enough words for me to thank the team for their commitment and contribution – everyone worked so hard and went the extra mile, despite the difficulties we faced and this week’s events have been a great way to celebrate all this involvement.”

Plaque unveiling for the inauguration of Imerys plant in Vizag, India
Plaque unveiling for the inauguration of Imerys plant in Vizag, India

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