India’s semi-finished steel exports, including billets and slabs, surged by 232pc to 4.82mn mt in the April-October period compared to the prior-year period. With Indian demand hurt amid COVID-19-related lockdowns, most mills resorted to selling in the overseas markets. Early in the fiscal year beginning April, some mills even sold billets at prices which were unprofitable as they struggled to stay afloat.
Among the carbon semis, including billets, around 2.87mn mt were exported to China; followed by 378,700mt to Nepal; 264,1000 to Thailand, and 266,800 to Indonesia.
In October, exports stood at 430,900mt, up by 18.4pc from October 2019. Of the total semis exported, 430,000mt were billets, which declined from 624,800mt in September. With China switching over to buying domestic billets, exports from India took a hit in October. Prices stood around $450-455/mt cfr Southeast Asia levels, which were unviable for many buyers.
Sponge iron exports
Sponge iron exports in April-October declined by 43.3pc to 272,900mt from the prior-year period. In October, exports stood at 26,900mt, down from 55,800mt in October 2019 and 33,300mt in the preceding month. Once again, Bangladesh was the largest buyer of Indian Sponge iron and imported 155,900mt in April-October. But with lockdown in Bangladesh, steel demand remained hurt and mills resorted to production cuts.
Additionally, in the last few months, a shortage and the resulting rise in iron ore prices also made Sponge iron bullish in the Indian markets. The rise could not be absorbed well in the market. Domestic iron ore prices have almost doubled in the past few months which raised input costs for Sponge iron producers.