Iranian steel exports up 29%

Financial Tribune – Major Iranian steelmakers exported over 5.38 million tons of crude steel and steel products in the last fiscal year (March 2016-17), registering a 29% growth compared to the year before, Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization reported.

Khouzestan Steel Company had the lion’s share of the exports as it shipped 767,542 tons of slabs, 718,327 tons of billets and 472,750 tons of blooms overseas.

Billets were the only commodity experiencing a downturn in KSC’s exports, while its slab and bloom shipments rose 3,587% and 44% respectively.

“Some 52% of the company’s output was exported—a historical record for Iran’s steel industry,” KSC sales deputy, Bahman Tajallizadeh, has been quoted as saying by S&P Global Platts.

KSC now regularly exports to 13 countries, some 50% of which are shipped to the Middle East and North Africa, 40% to the Far East and about 10% to American countries.

According to the company official, KSC is making efforts to actively increase its presence in markets where the Chinese footprint is diminishing.

KSC’s export price is on average 15% higher than that in the local market.

“At present, we export billet for approximately $390 per ton,” he said.

MSC’s Shifting Policy

Mobarakeh Steel Company was the second biggest exporter as it sold 1.54 million tons of hot, cold, acid-washed, tin-plated, galvanized coils, hot and cold-rolled plates and slabs, recording a 14% drop.

The highest growth was recorded in hot-rolled coil exports of Saba Steel Complex–a subsidiary of MSC as they registered a rise of 1,969% and hit 21,205 tons. MSC’s slab exports were also up 460% to reach 277,418 tons, while cold-rolled coil exports rose 88% to 139,693 tons.

Mobarakeh’s other products recorded two-digit drops in exports last year compared to the year before.

“Iran’s largest steelmaker MSC sold over 4.71 million tons of steel products in the local market last year, registering a 42% growth compared with the previous year,” Mahmoud Akbari, MSC’s deputy for sales and marketing, said.

MSC has shifted its sales policy, as it has prioritized the domestic market over exports. The main hurdle to the company’s export plans last year was a dispute with the Construction Pipe and Profile Manufacturers Association.

The association accused MSC of refusing to provide the sector with the needed feedstock of flat steel, overcharging local buyers and prioritizing exports.

The dispute dragged on for months with other consumers voicing the same complaint, until the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade officially ordered MSC to shift its focus to the domestic market.

Akbari attributes the higher local sales to the larger number of water projects initiated last year, the relative flourishing of car production and the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade’s policies to prioritize the needs of steel pipe and profile manufacturers for flat steel.

About 28% of MSC’s products went to construction pipe and profile manufacturers, 15% to automakers, steel and other downstream metal sectors and 8% to heavy equipment manufacturers.

Along with its subsidiaries, MSC is the largest flat steel producer in the Middle East and North Africa and Iran’s largest steelmaker, as it accounts for 1% of Iran’s GDP. The company accounts for approximately 50% of Iran’s total steel output and holds approximately the same share in domestic flat steel consumption.

HOSCO Plans Dedicated Wharf to Boost Exports

Last year’s third largest exporter was Hormozgan Steel Company, as it shipped 1.08 million tons of slabs, up 320% compared to the year before.

HOSCO, located in the southern Hormozgan Province along the coasts of the Persian Gulf, is planning to further expand exports.

Farzad Arzani, the company’s managing director, said HOSCO is planning to build a wharf to boost exports.

“We intend to transform Hormozgan Steel into a major steel export hub in Iran,” the official was quoted as saying by Bourse Press.

Arzani added that HOSCO is to cooperate with MSC in building the wharf.

Esfahan Steel Company ranked fourth, as its exports dropped by 8% to 640,521 tons of beams, rebars, coils and cast iron.

Khorasan Steel Company followed with 80,536 tons of exports. Next came Iran Alloy Steel Company with 44,801 tons and Oxin Steel Company with 28,319 tons. The three mills recorded a 119%, 128% and 188% upsurge in exports respectively.

Iran is currently the world’s 14th largest steelmaker, producing 2.89 million tons in the first two months of 2017 and registering a 6.2% growth year-on-year, the World Steel Association said.

The country’s steel output stood at 17.89 million tons in 2016, WSA figures show.

Iran aims to become the world’s sixth largest steel producer as per the 20-Year Vision Plan (2005-25), which envision an annual production of 55 million tons of crude steel and 20-25 million tons of exports per year by the deadline.

According to Minister of Industries, Mining and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, Iranian steel mills have so far materialized 31 million tons of the annual steel production capacity target.