Pains suffered by the Indian Steel Industry during the Pandemic.

In April and May, covid-19 crushed domestic industrial and consumer activity. The hit on India’s biggest steel mills, which make up 65% of the country’s annual output of about 110 Million MT, was calamitous.

The industry has been left standing still. The cost of standing still has been very high.

During the pandemic, the mills’ massive blast furnaces continued to burn but made less than a third of pre-covid-19 levels of production. Why keep the blast furnaces burning for so little output? Because closure and reopening can take up to 12 weeks; the process is complex; and maintenance costs are high. This remains the nuclear option for steel makers.

In short, India’s mills continued to bear high fixed costs: firing furnaces but without making much steel. Big integrated mills posses the manufacturing and marketing agility, and capital base, to survive, with bruises. Smaller mills, which account for about a third of national output, lack the strengths to survive a trough, and many have capitulated.

Iron and steel export from India rise by more than 100% in June.

Export of iron and steel products witnessed a sharp rise of more than 100% in June, even as export of engineering goods from India registered a decline of 7.24%, said an analysis report by engineering export promotion council of India, on Friday..

A drop in domestic demand, disruption in supply chain and acute shortage of construction labour led several top steelmakers to export more than 50-60% of their sales volume during May-June period. Iron and steel recorded more than 100% growth in exports during June 2020 with shipments of $1.32 billion against $653.52 million in the same month last year.

During June, exports of iron and steel to China rose by over 1400% to $524 million from $35 million in the same month last year, to Vietnam it went up by over 700% to USD 183 million and to Taiwan, the increase was 200% to $35 million.

With unlocking of the economy, the exports should come back on track and the trend would be reflected in the June numbers.

Domestic steel prices likely to fall in Q2 due to oversupply

Steel prices are expected to fall in the second quarter of this fiscal due to oversupply, further reducing margins for domestic steel producers. A report by credit ratings agency India Ratings and Research has estimated that prices of both hot rolled coils (HRC) and rebars will fall in the coming few months.

Both HRC and rebar prices were down 3% and 4% month-on-month in June. In May 2020, steel prices temporarily rose although higher inventories were available with steel players. This was due to logistical constraints and man-power availability issues, resulting in limited supply to end-use industries which gradually re-opened post relaxations in the lockdown.

“Domestic gross spreads per tonne (realisation per tonne of steel less the raw material cost per tonne of steel) for both hot rolled coil (HRC) and rebar are expected to fall further in 2QFY21 with a further fall in steel prices due to oversupply,” the report said. “This is because domestic production will gradually increase with the easing of lockdown restrictions along with no corresponding increase in steel demand. However, rebar spreads are likely to be less impacted over the near term up to end-FY21 compared to HRC due to a likely better demand pick-up, leading to a price increase backed by the expected implementation of government spending on infrastructure.”

Indian Steel Giant JSW Group Pledges To Cut Down $400 Million Import Bill From China To Zero In Two Years

Stating that the unprovoked attack by the Chinese on Indian soil and soldiers has been a huge “wake up” call, JSW Group’s Parth Jindal on Thursday announced that his company has pledged to bring down $400 million import bill from China to zero in two years.

“The unprovoked attack by the Chinese on Indian soil on our brave jawaans has been a huge wake up call and a clarion call for action – we JSW Group have a net import of $400mn from China annually and we pledge to bring this down to zero in the next 24 months #BoycottChina,” Jindal tweeted.

The announcement came amid nationwide outrage against China after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a violent face-off in Ladakh’s Galwan valley with Chinese troops when they attempted to unilaterally change the status quo during the de-escalation.

India imposes anti-dumping duty on certain steel imports from China, Vietnam, South Korea

In an attempt to guard domestic manufacturers against cheap imports, India imposed anti-dumping duty on imports of a certain type of steel from China, Vietnam and South Korea for a period of five years.

The provisional anti-dumping duty on imports of ‘flat-rolled product of steel, plated or coated with alloy of aluminium/zinc’ originating in or exported from China, South Korea & Vietnam shall be effective for a period of 5 yrs from date of imposition that is 15th Oct, 2019.

The imposition of anti-dumping duty on exports comes amid a border dispute with China in Ladakh which has resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers in clashes with Chinese troops earlier this month.

According to reports by news agencies ANI and PTI, people are burning the Chinese flag, China-made products, and effigies of President Xi Jinping.While the public has started a boycott movement by burning down Chinese products and deleting Chinese-made software, companies have also said that they will not buy equipment from Chinese companies.

As rolled hard strips – Special Temper.

These are basically as rolled hard steel strip. To achieve a desired hardness, an annealed material of suitable thickness is taken and rolled down to the required thickness, to achieve that required hardness. After rolling, the material is pinch passed and final annealing is not required. To choose the correct thickness (for reduction to the desired thickness) is a matter of expertise.

Grades: This strip is available in low, medium & high carbon grades.

Applications: It is suitable for components where formability is limited. It saves the extra annealing cost. The strip is directly punched & formed and if required sent for heat treatment.

Steel prices rise as demand perks up

Responding to cost pressure and greater demand, domestic steel producers have raised prices by Rs 1,000-1,500 a tonne across products for January. Iron ore miners have increased prices by Rs 600 per tonne and so this increases the cost of production by Rs 1,000 a tonne.

With this, domestic steel players have raised prices for the fourth consecutive month in a market in which consumption is expected to pick up after the government announced a mega push for infrastructure projects. Stock prices of all steel firms were up on Thursday in anticipation of rise in demand for the commodity, mainly from the infrastruct­u­re se­ctor, in coming months.

During October-December, long product producers such as JSPL and SAIL have recorded strong production figures, indicating a demand pick-up in infrastructure. JSPL recorded 30 per cent sales growth in the December quarter at 1.66 million tonnes compared with the same period in the previous financial year.

As rolled hard strips – Special Temper.

These are basically as rolled hard steel strip. To achieve a desired hardness, an annealed material of suitable thickness is taken and rolled down to the required thickness, to achieve that required hardness. After rolling, the material is pinch passed and final annealing is not required. To choose the correct thickness (for reduction to the desired thickness) is a matter of expertise.

Grades: This strip is available in low, medium & high carbon grades.

Applications: It is suitable for components where formability is limited. It saves the extra annealing cost. The strip is directly punched & formed and if required sent for heat treatment.

Steel prices on the verge of recovery

Domestic steel prices could increase by over Rs 1,000 per tonne in December, the first rise in six months, propped up by a strong revival in international prices and improvement in demand from infrastructure and housing sectors.

Signs of improvement in demand are being seen since November and this has given scope for price correction.Major steel players are looking at a moderate price recovery of Rs 1,000-1,500 per tonne in December.

An increase in price will improve the prospects of medium and large steel firms, including Tata Steel, Tata Steel BSL, JSW Steel, Essar Steel, Steel Authority of India and JSPL. Prices have been falling since May due to sluggish demand from infrastructure and construction sectors, and drop in orders from the slowdown-hit auto sector.From a high of Rs 44,000 per tonne, Hot Rolled Coils prices had plunged to, what industry executives termed as “unsustainable”, levels of Rs 34,000 per tonne.

Tata Steel eyes better H2FY20 on the back of tax benefits, festive season

The government’s proposed tax cuts combined with an uptick in consumption during the festive season would improve the demand situation in the second half of the fiscal year 2019-2020, said TV Narendran, MD of Tata Steel.

The corporate tax rate decision was very positive and in line with what the industry has been talking about, he said.

“It helps companies like us who are investing a lot currently in India because we also have the pressure to deleverage. So actions like this help us in that context,” Narendran added.

Besides tax benefits and festive season, Narendran said the government’s spending on infrastructure will also boost earnings. “We also hope that the infrastructure spend that the government has been talking about will start translating into money flows on the ground so that should help us,” he said.

Compared to South-East Asia, the Middle East or Europe, India has been a big price setter as the country has been exporting a fair amount of steel, said Narendran.

“So if things pick up in India, we believe that steel prices globally can also be positively impacted – microeconomic activity, various governments are taking different steps and we hope we will see the impact of those actions across the world,” he further mentioned.