Steel and mines ministries should be merged – Steel Minister

Indian Express reported that Mr BK Handique Indian union minister of mines has taken a swipe at his steel counterpart Mr Virbhadra Singh saying his suggestion that the government club mines along with steel indicated Mr Singh’s bid to encroach upon another’s territory and almost sounded like illegal mining.

Mr Handique said referring to Mr Singh’s views that the government, in its wisdom, decides the work allocation. All ministries understand their limitations and work to their best abilities.

Mr Singh had said in the Idea Exchange program at The Indian Express on December 29th 2009 that “Ideally, the steel and mines ministries should be merged. This is my personal view. If not merged, at least the power to grant mining leases for iron ore and other minerals used by the steel industry should be transferred to the steel ministry.”

As of now, mining leases are granted by states but they have to secure the mines ministry’s prior approval. Since iron ore, manganese and chrome are used largely as inputs for the steel industry, Mr Singh suggested that the power to grant leases must vest with his ministry.

(Sourced from Indian Express)

Steel ministry armtwists Steel Authority of India

Pressure from the highest echelons of a government fighting price fire seems to have been brought to bear on the steel ministry, which has asked the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) to cut long steel prices by Rs 3,000 per tonne.

“The SAIL chairman has told me that they have brought down prices of long products by Rs 3,000 per tonne in the last 4-5 days,” steel ministry secretary Atul Chaturvedi told NW18 on Monday.

“He said prices could go up again next month if the market supports.”

But a SAIL spokesperson, who did not wish to be named, gave DNA an unusual explanation: “We haven’t cut long steel prices. The Rs 3,000 per tonne correction is because we haven’t increased prices as much as others in the market did,” the person said.

The ministry had earlier asked SAIL to explain the rapid price increase of Rs 3,500 per tonne over the past two months. The ministry feared that rising steel prices may stoke inflation and had hinted that SAIL will be asked to roll back prices soon.

SK Roongta, chairman, SAIL, concurred with the ministry and said “prices will come down soon”.

SAIL’s prices of long products are now back to where they were in November 2009 — at about Rs 30,000 per tonne.

An analyst with a foreign brokerage, not wanting to be named, said: “It’s almost as if the government wants the shareholders to pay for its inability to tackle price rises elsewhere in the economy.”

Steel companies increased prices twice by 3-5% across categories in December and early January, citing rising raw material costs.

SAIL was one of them, apart from Tata Steel, JSW Steel, Essar Steel and Ispat Industries.

Industry analysts are of the opinion that steel prices have only one way to go due to rising raw material prices.

“Indian steel prices have further upside potential on the back of increased cost of production (coking coal and iron ore contracts expected to be revised northwards) and lower threat of imports due to high level of capacity utilisation in Chinese region and higher cost of production in the developed world (which has lower utilisations levels),” said Ravindra Deshpande, metals analyst with Elara Securities.


Tisco Aims For 15MT By 2010, Eyes Overseas Acquisitions

Tata Iron & Steel Co (Tisco) has set for itself a target of producing 15 million tonne (mt) of steel by the year 2010, a huge increase on its present output of around four million tonne of saleable steel.

While announcing this new goal, B Muthuraman, managing director, Tisco, also hinted that some of the new capacity could come up abroad. However, he declined to comment if this will be via acquisitions or own projects.

Mr Muthuraman, speaking at an informal press meet here Thursday, said 2004 was going to be “a very historic year” for the company. He pointed out that 2004 happens to be the birth centenary year of the legendary JRD Tata, the birth centenary of Naval Tata (father of Ratan Tata, chairman, Tisco) and also the death centenary of Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, founder, Tisco. “For both, this company (Tisco) and for the town it is going to be an historic year,” he said. “Tisco, you will know in the next 3-4 months, is on to another record year in terms of an outstanding business performance, where it will end up with record profits, the highest-ever recorded,” said Mr Muthuraman.


Tata Steel defers two greenfield projects

B MuthuramanLiquidity crisis and demand slowdown has forced Tata Steel, the country’s largest steel maker, to put brakes on its greenfield projects in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. However, it will continue with its expansion plans at Jamshedpur and the construction of a 3-million tonne (MT) plant at Kalinganagar in Orissa, said Tata Steel Managing Director B Muthuraman.

Source: Business Standard (New Delhi)

POSCO gets forest land approval for India plant

South Korean steelmaker POSCO has received final approval to acquire forest land needed for its long-delayed $12 billion India project,
a company spokesman said on Friday.

The steel maker needs about 4,000 acres (1,600 hectares) of land for its project in eastern Orissa state, of which 2,900 acres is forested. “We have got final forest clearance. We are ready to commence work any time after land is handed over to us,” Simanta Mohanty, POSCO India’s General Manager of External Relations, told.

POSCO signed a memorandum of understanding with Orissa in June 2005 for the 12 million-tonne-capacity steel plant to be built in three phases by 2016, with production scheduled to begin by the end of 2011 at the completion of the first phase. But the project, touted as India’s largest foreign direct investment, has been delayed by more than two years due to protests by farmers who fear losing their livelihood.

In Aug 2008, India’s top court allowed the company use of tracts of forest land, but the protests continued, reflecting a larger stand-off between industry and farmers unwilling to give up land. Other projects, including Tata Motors’ plant for the cheap Nano car, have been delayed or relocated due to similar protests in India, where two-thirds of the population depends on agriculture for a living. Lee Dong-hee, POSCO’s president and chief investment officer, had said in August the land acquisition was expected to be completed by the end of 2009 and land levelling work would start in early 2010. With the grant of the mining lease delayed by litigation, POSCO plans to start construction of the steel plant first. The company requires 20 million tonnes of iron ore per year over 30 years for steel production at full capacity.

Flat steel in India to cost more from January

The prices of flat steel used in automobile and consumer durables are set to increase by INR 700 to INR 1500 a tonne from January 1st 2009 after showing a soft to downward trend in the last five months.

Primary steel producers said prices would increase by 3 to 4% from January due to rising demand. Long product prices have already been increased. Major producers Steel Authority of India and TATA Steel have raised prices by INR 2000 a tonne with immediate effect.

Steel prices across the globe are showing signs of recovery. Japan’s JFE Steel plans to raise prices in the Asian market. The company has signed contracts with customers in Malaysia at 15% higher prices for supplies in the first quarter.

However, industry sources were concerned that the global economic recovery was still in the making. While the US and emerging economies were getting back on track, parts of North America and Europe were lagging.

Domestic steel producers said though prices would be increased in January, it was difficult to say if prices would be raised on month-on-month basis due to rising imports. They said that “Even China is exporting to India.”