Skip to main content

India imports hazardous asbestos from China, Brazil amidst 'declining' Russian supply

Orenburg Minerals, Russian giant specialising in asbestos mining
By Laurie Kazan-Allen 
The release in August 2023 of updated asbestos trade data provided food for thought. While much seems to have changed since I first began studying the industry over 30 years ago – including the dwindling number of countries producing and consuming asbestos – the fact that 1,330,000 tonnes (t) are still being used every year, despite all that is known about the asbestos hazard, is appalling.
In my analysis of the latest data, I zeroed in on the figures from India, the world’s largest asbestos importer and consumer. According to the information collected by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), in 2021 and 2022 India used 408,000t and 424,000t; data from the Indian government show that in the same years, 436,119t and 403,292t were imported.
What is of particular interest when you compare the USGS information with that from the Indian government is the sharp decline in asbestos imports from Russia between 2021 (228,078t) and 2022 (96,306t), a fall of almost 58%. Of course, there may have been errors in the data collection or some other explanation but it is also possible that Western sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – which began on February 24, 2022 – might have impeded the transport of asbestos shipments from Russia.
Researchers on this subject unearthed an article from August 2023, which revealed that Orenburg Minerals, Russia’s biggest asbestos producer, lost “almost a billion rubles in 2022”:
“The company had never encountered such a situation before. Even during the crisis of 2008, Orenburg Minerals JSC was able to achieve an insignificant, but still positive, profit. Most likely, the unprofitability of the enterprise is associated with sanctions imposed by foreign countries against Russia.”
One billion rubles was worth US$17,200,000 on September 27, 2022 and US$10,335,932 on September 27, 2023.
Perhaps to compensate for the shortage of Russian asbestos, imports from Brazil and China, both asbestos-producing countries, increased in 2022; it is also noteworthy that in 2022 42,525t and 49,923t of asbestos were imported by India from (respectively) Georgia and Turkey, neither of which is a producing country.
According to data from the Indian government in 2021 asbestos imports from Brazil and China were 150,848t and 67t, respectively; the figures for 2022 were 175,995t and 783t.
These shipments might have originated in Russia and been sent via those countries to evade the sanctions. At this point, it’s not possible to be sure one way or the other.
A colleague in India reported that, according to Indian government statistics, before September 2022 there had been no asbestos imports to India from Turkey, Georgia or Lithuania. Imports in 2022 from these countries were: 49,923t, 42,525t and 2,719t, respectively.
Other points of interest in the new USGS data included:
  • five countries accounted for 85% of all asbestos consumed worldwide: India, China, Russia, Uzbekistan and Indonesia;
  • global production increased in 2022 from 1.28 million tonnes in 2021 to 1.33 million tonnes, with Russia still the biggest producer;
  • consumption in Russia jumped by nearly 60% from 2021 to 2022 – it is not known whether this asbestos was actually used or warehoused due to difficulties with export shipments as a result of Western sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.



'Draconian' Kerala health law follows WHO diktat: Govt readies to take harsh measures

By Dr Maya Valecha*  The Governor of Kerala has signed the Kerala Public Health Bill, which essentially reverses the people’s campaign in healthcare services in Kerala for decentralisation. The campaign had led to relinquishing of state powers in 1996, resulting in improvement of health parameters in Kerala. Instead, now, enforcement of law through the exercise of power, fines, etc., and the implementation of protocol during the pandemic, are considered of prime importance.

Reject WHO's 'draconian' amendments on pandemic: Citizens to Union Health Minister

By Our Representative  Several concerned Indian citizens have written to the Union Health Minister to reject amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR) of the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted during the 75th World Health Assembly (WHA75) in May 2022, apprehending this will make the signatories surrender their autonomy to the “unelected, unaccountable and the whimsical WHO in case of any future ‘pandemics’.”

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Bihar rural women entrepreneurs witness 50% surge in awareness about renewal energy

By Mignonne Dsouza*  An endline survey conducted under the Bolega Bihar initiative revealed a significant increase in awareness of renewable energy among women, rising from 25% to 76% in Nalanda and Gaya. Renu Kumari, a 34-year-old entrepreneur from Nalanda, Bihar, operates a village eatery that serves as the primary source of income for her family, including her husband and five children. However, a significant portion of her profits was being directed toward covering monthly electricity expenses that usually reach Rs 2,000. 

Work with Rajasthan's camel herders: German scientist wins World Cookbook Award 2023

By Rosamma Thomas*  Gourmand World Cookbook Awards are the only awards for international food culture. This year, German scientist  Ilse Kohler Rollefson , founder of Camel Charisma, the first of India’s camel dairies, in Pali district of Rajasthan, won the award for her work with camel herders in Rajasthan, and for preparing for the UN International Year of Camelids, 2024. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Why is electricity tariff going up in India? Who is the beneficiary? A random reflection

By Thomas Franco*  Union Ministry of Power has used its power under Section 11 of the Electricity Act, 2003 to force States to import coal which has led to an increase in the cost of electricity production and every consumer is paying a higher tariff. In India, almost everybody from farmers to MSMEs are consumers of electricity.

'Pro-corporate agenda': Odisha crackdown on tribal slum dwellers fighting for land rights

By Our Representative  The civil rights network Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), even as condemning what it calls “brutal repression” on the Adivasi slum dwellers of Salia Sahi in Bhubaneshwar by the Odisha police, has said that the crackdown was against the tribals struggling for land rights in order to “stop the attempts at land-grab by the government.”

Deplorable, influential sections 'still believe' burning coal is essential indefinitely

By Shankar Sharma*  Some of the recent developments in the power sector, as some  recent news items show, should be of massive relevance/ interest to our policy makers in India. Assuming that our authorities are officially mandated/ committed to maintain a holistic approach to the overall welfare of all sections of our society, including the flora, fauna and general environment, these developments/ experiences from different parts of the globe should be clear pointers to the sustainable energy pathways for our people.

Hazrat Aisha’s age was 16, not 6: 'Weak' Hadith responsible for controversy

Sacred chamber where Prophet and Aisha used to live By Dr Mike Ghouse* Muslims must take the responsibility to end the age-old controversy about Hazrat Aisha’s age at the time of her marriage to the Prophet (pbuh) – it was 16, not 6 (minimum was 16, Max 23 per different calculations). The Hadiths published were in good faith, but no one ever checked their authenticity, and they kept passing on from scholar to scholar and book to book.  Thanks to 9/11, Muslims have started questioning and correcting the Hadiths, Seerah, and mistranslations of the Quran. Now, the Ulema have to issue an opinion, also known as Fatwa, to end it and remove those Hadith entries. Mustafa Akyol, a scholar of Islam, implores Muslims to stop deifying “the received traditions” and critically study their religious past, shedding rigid legalism and close-mindedness. Someone else used the phrase “copycat Muslims” to identify scholars who copied what was given to them and passed it on without researching or questioni