TEHRAN: Major Iranian steelmakers exported 2.13 million tons of semi-finished and finished steel products during the first four months of the current fiscal year (March 21-July 22), registering a 3% growth compared with last year’s corresponding period, Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization reported. The export volume for Tir, the fourth month of the year (June 22-July 22), stood at 550,362 tons, up 5% year-on-year. The IMIDRO data released on Monday featured in a preliminary report on major producers’ exports. A more comprehensive and detailed version, including smaller private mills’ performance, is often released in two weeks’ time by the Iranian Steel Producers Association.
Khouzestan Steel Company was the biggest exporter for the period, as it shipped 925,289 tons of slab, bloom and billet overseas, up 48% YOY. Bloom exports made up the bulk of KSC’s shipments with 512,430 tons and were up 188% YOY. The company’s billet exports, however, were down 61% to 127,626 tons. Slab shipments remained unchanged at 285,233 tons. KSC’s exports during the fourth month dropped 16% to 115,880 tons. KSC became Iran’s largest exporter of steel last year (March 2016-17) by shipping 1.9 million tons, overtaking Iran’s largest steelmaker Mobarakeh Steel Company for the first time. The company shipped about 52% of its 3.6-million-ton output for the year with its profits jumping over 300% compared to the year before to 6.7 trillion rials ($176.31 million).
Esfahan Steel Company was the second biggest exporter during the four months with 475,975 tons of beam, rebar, coils and other products shipped overseas, up 122% YOY. Rebar made up 64,811 tons of MSC’s overall exports, registering a 66% growth YOY, followed by beam and coils with 45,139 tons and 17,124 tons respectively. Beam shipments were down 1% YOY, while coil exports remained unchanged. Steel products listed as “others” made up 348,901 tons of exports, up 169%. ESCO shipped a total of 114,688 tons during the fourth month, up 430% YOY. It is Iran’s oldest steelmaker and one of the country’s largest producers of structural steel. It was jointly established in 1965 by Iran and the Soviet Union’s Tyazhpromexport Company. The major long producer company seems to be on the path to growth. The 3.3-trillion-rial ($873 million) company had forecasted a 35-rial loss per share for the fiscal 2017-18, but ended up posting only 20 rials in losses per share by the end of first quarter.
According to ESCO Managing Director Ahmad Sadeqi, the reduced loss per share was made possible by replacing local coal supply with cheaper foreign offerings, cutting production costs by boosting efficiency of furnaces, reducing furnaces’ coking coal usage, reviving an old DRI plant and halting scrap iron purchases and cutting the number of project contractors. The company has also changed some of its sales strategies, as is evident in its balance sheet. Its advances were on the rise during the first quarter, which is due to increased futures sales. ESCO seems to be the only steelmaker in Iran still focused on exports, as “prioritizing the local market” is the phrase echoed by basically all industry officials these days, making them shy away from their export-oriented policies of last year. It is explainable, considering that demand for long steel has not yet picked up in the local market in contrast to flats. The trend is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future with the construction sector in a chronic recession.