Raw material survey to help ceramics industry

Monday, 11 July 2011 00:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A survey to identify kaolin/ball clay deposits in selected areas of southwest Sri Lanka is underway, findings of which will boost the ceramics industry.

Absence of high quality raw material in sufficient quantities is one of the key constraints for the industry and the survey is aimed at finding a solution.

“In addressing the need for a good raw material base, we have raised Rs. 1 million from companies within the industry and a further Rs. 7 million from the Ministry of Finance to conduct a survey that will identify kaolin/ball clay deposits in selected areas of southwest Sri Lanka,” Sri Lanka Ceramics Council (SLCC) President Dayasiri Warnakulasooriya said.

“The survey is currently underway in partnership with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Geographical Survey and Mines Bureau. The project when completed will yield augor hole location maps and reserve estimates for each type of clay material in the areas the survey is conducted,” he said, at the SLCC Annual General Meeting held last week.

Other key challenges facing the industry at present are increasing labour costs and increases in energy prices.

“A gradual recovery of economic activity was noted in some export markets such as Australia, USA and newly emerging markets in India,” Warnakulasooriya told the AGM. In that context, ceramics exports in 2010 rose by $ 2.7 million to $ 39.1 million.

Current trends included increased visibility of Asian ceramic manufacturers in UK based ceramics publications, which has allowed information on Asian ceramics manufacturers to reach worldwide customers.

Domestically, the SLCC Chief said growth was driven by infrastructure projects. He explained that the construction and refurbishment of hotels proved profitable for tile, sanitary ware, hotel and restaurant tableware manufacturers.  Glass manufacturers on the other hand benefitted from increased demand from former conflict affected provinces.

The SLCC Chief also highlighted the need for the ceramics industry to improve productivity with the use of new capital-intensive technology.

“I believe that the future of the ceramics industry in Sri Lanka will depend on our efforts to improve our productivity, innovation of new products, branding and our ability to tap into niche markets,” Warnakulasooriya said.

Post AGM, a presentation on ‘Techniques of Improving Labour Productivity’ was delivered by Dankotuwa Porcelain Chairman Sunil G. Wijesinha.

At the AGM, the SLACC also announced the resignation of Noritake Lake Porcelain Pvt. Ltd. Deputy Chairman Shigeki Hasegawa and the council declared that the present office bearers would continue to serve in their current positions for 2011/2012.