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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Unprecedented crisis of iron ore to hit steel industry, says ASSOCHAM
January 30, 2015: In the wake of bans and restrictions imposed on iron ore mining in Odisha, Jharkhand and Karnataka, India's steel industry is likely to face unprecedented crisis due to extreme shortage of iron ore and cheaper imports from China and Russia.

In a note submitted to the government, apex industry body ASSOCHAM has suggested for an urgent intervention to correct artificially inflated rate of iron ore in the domestic market by the non-captive iron ore miners.

The chamber secretary general, D.S. Rawat lamented that as against the international norm of efficient steel making, the Indian steel industries have no captive mines and fully dependent on the domestic merchant miners. Both private and PSU in the states of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, etc. have been paying very high cost for Iron Ore ranging from US$ 96-105/ MT (landed cost) resulting in high production cost of Steel $ 450 -500 / MT rendering them less competitive in the international market as well as in the domestic market because of cheaper Imports from China/ Russia/ other countries.

As a result of such high level of Iron ore prices maintained by domestic producers coupled with crash in international iron ore prices and dumping by Chinese and Russian Steel producers, domestic steel producers are left with no option but to resort to import of iron ore in order to maintain sustainability in the current market scenario and stay afloat.

While in India, steel production has gone up from 65.84 MT in 2009-10 to 91 MT in 2014-15, the iron ore production has gone down from 218.55 MT in 2009-10 to 138 MT in 2014-15, adds the ASSOCHAM.

The low Iron ore production is reducing year upon year and is leading to a situation where the Iron ore requirement is surpassing the restricted production currently being witnessed in India. While few de-bottlenecking steps have been taken recently by the government, the same has yet to produce results. During the current year Indian Steel industry has already imported 8.5 Mio T of Iron ore (Apr-Dec'14) and the total Iron ore imports likely to cross 12-13 Mio T during FY 2013-14.

Due to various restrictions imposed on iron ore producers in various states and closure of mines happening for various reasons, there is mismatch in demand and supply. As a result, few other mines. Which are allowed operation is operating with huge demand from the Steel/ Sponge Iron/ Pellet producers having no captive mines.

In order to continue their operation, the plants are forced to offtake Iron ore at a price determined and dictated by these producers. This has resulted in anomalous situation whereby while the world over all commodity prices including Iron ore prices are falling, domestic Iron ore prices are sustaining at a very high level.

The International prices have dropped by almost 50% from its peak level of US$ 135.88/ DMT CFR China in Nov'13 to the current level of US$ 63-64/ DMT CFR. The JSM FOB price, which also follow Platts IODEX, have reduced by 41% from US$ 121.90/ DLT in Nov'13 to US$ 72.29/ DLT in Jan'15. However, during the same period the domestic Fines price has increased by 17% from Rs. 2610/ WMT to Rs. 3060/ WMT in Jan'15 on ex-mines basis, the chamber said.

Steel industry continues to be sluggish for the past 2-3 years with there being hardly any chance of recovery in the near term. The price of Hot Rolled Coil (HRC) has crashed in the International market during the past 1 year from a level of US$ 570 to the current level of US$ 440, a drop of 23%. With the Chinese economy slowing down and Infrastructure/ Construction activities waning in China, it has doubled its export of Steel and is dumping Steel in the Indian market and elsewhere in a big way.

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