India is capable of producing 300 million tonnes of steel by 2030, as envisaged in the National Steel Policy 2017, but many challenges have to be overcome on the path to the target, according to experts in the sector. At present, India produces 90 mt of steel per annum.
They were speaking at the one-day seminar on success and survival strategies in the steel sector organised here on Friday by the magazine, Steel and Metallurgy. Magazine editor Nirmalya Mukherjee presided over the seminar.
N.K. Nanda, the Director (Technical) of the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC), the chief guest, said the main challenge was to keep input costs in steel production down and maintain high quality for the industry to be competitive.
He said, "As far as coking coal is concerned, we have little choice as it has to be imported from other countries, but we have sufficient reserves of iron ore. But the challenge is to produce ore in a cost-effective manner and supply it to the steel industry. The landed cost of ore has to be reasonable for the industry to be competitive."
He said captive mining of ore may not be of much use to the steel companies in the present scenario, "as iron ore mines are being auctioned at high prices."
A.S. Firoz, an economist specialising in the sector, said backward integration may not be of much use to the steel companies at present. Bad investment decisions are plaguing the sector, he added.
P.L. Haranadh, the Deputy Chairman of the Visakhaptnam Port, said logistics cost would have to be brought down drastically to make the steel industry competitive. "For that to happen, we have to rely more on inland waterways and coastal shipping and less on the railways and roads," he said.
S.K. Rai, the technical director of M.N. Dastur & Co Ltd, said Visakhapatnam Steel Plant should aim at 20 mt per annum by 2030 from the present level of 6.3 mt.
D.N. Rao, the Director (Operations) of RINL, said marketing, input costs and quality control were the three key factors in steel production. The RINL had appointed 300 rural dealers to sell steel in villages.
Sushim Banerjee, the Director-General of the Institute for Steel Development and Growth, said creating demand for steel, especially in rural areas, was as important as capacity augmentation to reach the target by 2030.
N.S. Rao, a former director in the RINL and currently a professor of metallurgy in Andhra University, said China takes 29 months to build a blast furnace and a private company in India roughly 40 months. "It has taken nearly 70 months for the RINL to build and commission the third blast furnace. We have to speed up our processes. The target of 300 million tonnes is very difficult, but not impossible," he added.
Source: Business Line