India's steel industry resumes partial operations amid prolonged lockdown

May 6,2020

With no specific sign of when a national lockdown resulting from the coronavirus pandemic would be completely removed, India's steel industry has started a steady restart of operations.

The government also extended the lockdown to May 17, which was set to expire on Sunday. It was extended because there were fears that if the lockdown was not continued, the country would lose its progress in the battle against the coronavirus.

JSW Steel said Monday it had resumed operations and was "gradually ramping up capacity." On March 25 JSW, which had an output of about 18 million tonnes/year, had cut back on domestic steel production but provided no information. S&P Global Platts reported that JSW shut down one blast furnace at its Vijayanagar plant in Karnataka on 25 March and reduced production rates between 3-50 percent on 25 March and 25-30 percent on 26 March.

Elsewhere, effective May 2, Monnet Ispat & Energy reopened its integrated steel plant at Raigarh, Chhattisgarh, the steelmaker said Sunday.

But it’s "Raipur, Chhattisgarh remains temporarily suspended until further notice," it added. In August 2018, Aion Investments II and JSW Steel took over Monnet Ispat, which has a manufacturing potential of 1.2 million tonnes-1.3 million tonnes.

Steel cable maker Usha Martin said on April 23 it resumed partial operations of its plant at Ranchi, Jharkhand state after it shut down service as a consequence of the government order. The company has 250,000 million tonnes/year of total manufacturing potential. More recently, Usha Martin restarted its plant at Hoshiarpur in Punjab state, on Thursday.

Goa Carbon, which on 23 March at Paradip in Odisha shut down its 125,000 million tonnes/year facility, is scheduled to restart operations Thursday. The company manufactures calcined petroleum coke, which is used for electric arc furnaces in graphite electrodes and raises the carbon content in steel production and ductile iron foundries.

Amid the lockdown, in March, India produced 8.04 million tonnes of crude steel, 20.0 percent less year on year and down 15.9 percent from February, data from the Joint Plant Committee showed, while March finished steel output fell 23.7 percent year on year to 7.09 million tonnes which was also 14.5 percent lower from the month before.

Steel demand is anticipated to be low as the carmakers reported weak sales data in April. For eg, Maruti Suzuki India recorded zero sales in the April domestic market as all of its plants were shut down due to the lockdown, while Bajaj Auto posted April sales of 37,878 units, a 91 percent year-on-year plunge.

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