Domestic steel production rises as sales pick up

Sail, Essar Steel witness production growth of 15% and 61%, respectively, in FY17

With domestic steel makers witnessing increased production in the current financial year, the demand scenario, both domestic and exports, seems to be in a pick-up mode.

State-owned Steel Authority of India (SAIL) has produced 10.18 million tonnes of saleable steel during April-December, up 15 per cent from same period last year.

Meanwhile, Essar Steel saw highest quarterly production in the quarter ended December with the production of flat steel products rising 61 per cent on year-on-year basis to 1.48 million tonne. The output of pellets also grew 99 per cent in the period under review to 2.59 million tonne.

Sail posted sales growth of 16 per cent during April-December over the corresponding period last year, the company said in its recent release.

"Improved domestic sales as well as expanding exports, with the latter recording a remarkable rise of around more than double during this period, contributed to the improved sales numbers," said the company.

The company's exports rise is keeping pace with the SAIL's focus to expand its global footprints, it added.

Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Steel also saw its production move up in November, as flat-rolled products jumped 71 per cent from a year ago period to 887,000 tonne, while long product output fell 2 per cent to 221,000 tonne.

Naveen Jindal-led Jindal Steel & Power, Tata Steel and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam are among the other top steel producing companies in the country.

To treble capacity to 300 mn tonnes, provide global heft, Steel Ministry to hire expert

Keen on making domestic steel industry globally more competitive and actualising the ambitious target of nearly trebling capacity to 300 million tonne, steel minister Birender Singh will appoint an expert with the mandate to lay the road map for the sector’s development. The expert will possess exceptional domain knowledge and will be inducted either on full-time or part-time-basis, Singh said. He/she would also advise the ministry on how to improve efficiency of the sector to bring it at par with the global leaders, he said.

Jindal Steel and Power’s chairman Naveen Jindal said, “It is always good to have a counsel of people having sound knowledge.” Highlighting the need for such a person who can deliver in the present scenario and speed up things for the ministry, the minister said he was in talks with a potential candidate for over two months now, but that person backed out citing “overseas assignment”. However, he added that he still has a list of half a dozen names to consider and choose one from them. “I don’t know how to designate the person — as an advisor, consultant or something else. The person would be appointed as soon as we get one,” Singh said.

Other industry officials said the minister might face such “hurdles” to get a suitable candidate in the coming days also as none would like to take on the bureaucracy, who decides on the policy matter and “virtually” runs the state-run firms even as they don’t have sufficient domain knowledge. However, they added if one is eventually appointed, he/she must have experience in working in Indian environment and be given a free hand to frame policies that are conducive to the industry. “We need policies that will facilitate us to grow further and will be helpful for us,” an industry official said.

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