Iranian steel expands as capacity grows
Financial Tribune reported that Iranian steel industry, especially its raw material sector, is expanding substantially. The name of Iran is increasingly heard in the global steel market when it comes to semi finished steel products trade as growing steelmaking capacities in the country, together with weakening domestic demand, push export volumes up. In the first half of the current Iranian year (March 21 to Sept. 22, 2017) the country exported 3.2 million tons of semi-finished steel products, up by 77% compared with last year’s 1.8 million tonnes, Metal Bulletin reported.
This growth was mainly attributed to higher slab shipments, which reached 1.6 million tonnes over the period, having almost tripled year on year. Billet and bloom exports rose by 25% year on year, totaling 1.6 million tonnes in March to September.
Over the 12 months of the current Iranian year (ending March 20, 2018), the country targets the export of 5.3 million tons of semi-finished products, with around 35% due to slabs and the rest to billets and blooms.
Expansion of the country’s steelmaking capacities in 2016-17 was one of the major factors influencing the growth of export volumes.
For slabs, it was the massive expansion at the country’s largest steelmaker Mobarakeh Steel Company and its subsidiaries, which increased the company’s total capacity to produce slabs by 2.6 million, to 10.3 million tonnes per year.
In November 2016, the company added a 1.8 million tonne per year continuous casting machine at its main plant located in Isfahan Province, which increased its slab production capacity to 7.2 million tonne per year. In April 2017, the producer also doubled, to 1.6 million tpy, slab production capacity at its subsidiary Saba Steel Complex.
Another MSC subsidiary, Hormozgan Steel Company, has the capacity to produce 1.5 million tpy of slabs. In total, MSC holds 85% of the country’s 12 million tpy of slab-making capacity as well as 71% of its 10 million tpy capacity for hot-rolled flat products.
The billet segment has also seen capacity increase by around 5 million tpy over the past two years, with the majority of projects launched in 2017. This means that they still need time to strengthen their positions and get exports going.
Among them is the 800,000 tpy Qaenat Steel Complex, a 650,000 tpy expansion project at Khorasan Steel Complex, both located in Khorasan Razavi Province, the 1.2 million tpy Chadormalu Steelmaking Plant in Yazd Province and the 1 million tpy Bardsir Steelmaking Plant.
In 2016, only Esfahan Steel Company expanded billet production, by adding a 1.2 million tpy billet continuous casting machine to its 3.8 million tpy existing capacity. These launches helped lift the country’s total capacity for billet production to around 23 million tpy. However, around a half of these capacities remains under-utilized due to the lack of finance and demand in the domestic market.
Source : Financial Tribune