June 8, 2015 11:28 am Published by

Steel prices may stay under pressure in FY16: Moody’s

Steel prices in India are expected to remain under pressure in the current fiscal, but the demand is expected to pick up with an uptick in commercial vehicle sales, ratings agency Moody’s said.

Sounding upbeat on the performance of two major players in the domestic market — Tata Steel and JSW Steel — in 2015-16, it said that the worst phase for the two is over. “We do not foresee steel imports coming down anytime soon and so there may be pressure on the prices in 2015-16 fiscal, but the worse for Tata Steel and JSW Steel is over,” Moody’s Senior Analyst Kaustubh Chaubal told PTI.

Subdued domestic demand and rise in imports from China, Russia and Korea had exerted pressure on steel realisations in the last fiscal, he added.

However, Moody’s expects steel demand to pick up in 2015-16 on the back of an uptick in commercial vehicles sales, particularly the medium and heavy commercial vehicles (M&HCV).

“We expect the uptick in activity in the M&HCV segment to continue and if you look at the light commercial vehicles’ space, the de-growth is now coming down, which is also a good sign. LCV market may turn in the second half of this fiscal. These aspects will help steel demand,” Chaubal said.

Besides, declining prices of iron ore and cooking coal as well as the government’s decision to resume mining will aid in reducing pressure on the companies, Moody’s said. “While we expect steel prices to remain under pressure, we believe that the cut in domestic iron ore and coking coal prices will aid in easing pressure on margins. NMDC, for instance, revised its iron ore prices downwards by Rs. 500 per tonne in April 2015.

“Furthermore, restarting of iron ore mining activities in Karnataka and Odisha will also help in a correction to iron ore prices,” it noted.

According to data by Joint Plant Committee (JPC), under the Steel Ministry, India imported 9.321 million tonnes (MT) of steel in April-March 2014-15, an increase of 71 per cent over 2013-14, making it a net importer for the last fiscal.

On the outlook for Tata Steel and JSW Steel, he said, “FY 2014-15 results for both firms were impacted by high iron ore costs. Correction in iron ore prices will benefit JSW Steel, and the resumption of captive mining activities is expected to benefit Tata Steel in FY 2015-16.”

During April-March 2014-15, crude steel production grew by almost 8 per cent to 88.124 MT year-on-year. The six ISP producers, which includes Tata Steel and JSW Steel, together produced 45.31 MT in 2014-15, growing 2.4 per cent compared to 2013-14, JPC data showed.

Tata Steel’s total deliveries in 2014-15 fiscal stood at 26.32 MT, whiles sales of JSW Steel stood at 12.03 MT during the same period.

On steel price realisation, Moody’s said that both companies have been performing better than the market average.

In Round III of coal mine auctions, big business may be at an advantage

With the Coal Ministry set to put out notice for the next round of mine auctions on Monday, questions are being raised whether this time also it will be the big miners who will benefit the most.

“Since there is no restriction on the number of bids a Group, through its various entities, can make for a single mine chances of houses with larger capital being at an advantage is higher. The latest round is on forward bids concept — highest bidders will be the winners,” an industry source said.

Though the previous two rounds had the concept of reverse bid for the power sector — lowest bidder was declared winner — this issue had haunted the auctions. Big houses such as Kumar Mangalam Birla’s Aditya Birla Group and Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta besides others had made different bids for the same mine through various group companies.

This had made the Coal Ministry consider varied options. While the Ministry has now defined how it will consider multiple bids made by a company for a single mine, it does not elaborate on Group. The Ministry has decided to treat multiple bids from one company as a single bid while calculating the 50 per cent qualified bidders for the financial bid stage.

However, Coal Secretary Anil Swarup had said that the same was not feasible for a business group as there is no legal definition for a ‘business group’. On offer are 10 mines for unregulated sectors — iron & steel, Cement, and captive power plants.

Asked if the latest round will see narrowing down of time between technical and financial bids to avoid price negotiations between the participants, a senior Coal Ministry official said, “There is no change in the timeline. The gap between the two bids is not much and we do not foresee any price manipulation.”

In the previous rounds, the gap between the two bids was almost 14 days. For the coal mine auctions, bidders are required to make an initial price offer at the technical bid stage itself. Only 50 per cent of those who qualified in the technical stage (subject to a minimum of five bidders) were allowed to participate in the financial bid stage and were selected according to the initial price offering.


Andhra Pradesh extends date for EOI for mining project to July 10


With interest from global and Indian mining majors growing, the AP Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC) has decided to once more extend the last date for submitting the Expression of Interest (EOI) floated by it for exploiting the heavy beach mineral sands of Srikakulam district to July 10.

The decision was taken at the first interactive, pre-bid conference here on Wednesday, which was attended by a dozen top Indian and global mining and minerals firms.

Indian Rare Earths, IFFCO, Essel Mining (AV Birla Group), VV Minerals, Transworld Garnet, Trimex, Dharti Dredging and Infrastructure Ltd., Satyavathi Minerals and Metals, Savior Mines & Minerals Pvt. Ltd., Subramanyam Meka Group and PSK Infrastructure & Projects Ltd. were among the participants.

The State-owned Corporation wants the setting up of an integrated project for development of heavy mineral beach sands in a joint venture. It covers exploration and mining, mineral separation, as well as value-added plants.

In the JV, the Corporation will contribute to the equity in the form of mining leases, both land-owned and acquired, and sweat equity for facilitating various statutory clearances, in addition to equity infusion. The previous last date was June 19.

Replying to queries from companies about the status of the mining leases, V Girija Shankar, VC & MD of the Corporation said the Centre has only given in principle approval, subject to approval of mine plan and EIA clearance within December 2016 as well as no objection certificate from the State. He said the Corporation was confident it would get clearances and it was not a matter of concern.

On land usage, holding pattern and encroachments, the Secretary, Department of Industry and Commerce, Rawat assured that since the Corporation would be part of the Joint Venture projects, with 75 fper cent share in the mining, it and State would ensure that land acquisition is carried out expeditiously, official sources told BusinessLine.

According to existing rules, the Corporation has to hold a 75-per cent equity, while in the mineral separation and value addition, the private partner can hold a majority stake. A separate special purpose vehicle and equity structure can also be worked out.


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