BSP-Chairman inaugurates end forging plant
   

Mr C.S. Verma, Chairman - SAIL inaugurated the new End-Forging Plant installed in Bhilai Steel Plant's Rail & Structural Mill for forging of thick web asymmetric rails on 21st January 2013. The new end-forged ZU – 1- 60 profile of rails would be used for manufacture of track switches for the Indian Railways. This is an important milestone in the field of import substitution. SAIL's Bhilai Steel Plant, the sole supplier of rails to Indian Railways including long rails in lengths of 130 and 260 metre, has begun commercial production of this new profile of rails. At present, this profile is being imported by Indian Railways.
The new End-Forging Plant has been installed at a cost of ` 45.54 crore approximately. The successful development of the thick web asymmetric rails and installation of end forging facilities has further strengthened SAIL's commitment to fulfill the requirements of Indian Railways.

  Fitch Group company revises outlook for real estate sector
   

India Ratings, a Fitch group company, has revised its outlook for the Indian real estate sector to negative to stable for 2013, from negative in 2012. Demand remains subdued and EBITDA margins low, leading to weak credit metrics for companies in the sector. The agency however sees signs of improvement, in terms of stability of margins and the easing of liquidity pressures, with free cash flows turning positive since H2FY12, India Ratings said in a statement. Demand for residential real estate stabilized in 2012, with year-on-year growth in home loans from banks showing an uptrend from May 2012. However, the sales of large players declined marginally in 2012. Economic weakness continued with the associated apprehension of employee downsizing and salary freezes, which adversely affected consumer sentiments. Persistence of adverse sentiments, high inflation and high interest rates which reduce affordability, coupled with high property prices, continue to hinder improvement in demand, India Ratings said. Commercial demand will be hit by subdued job growth in the IT sector, where average quarterly net headcount addition in 2012 has been around 28-32% lower than in the previous two year Demand for retail space is likely to be muted in the near term, it said.

  Railways revenue from iron ore handling up 18.72% m-o-m in Dec
   

The Indian Railways' revenue from transportation of iron ore for exports, steel plants and for other domestic users in December rose to Rs 581.75 crore, up 18.72% from Rs 490 crore in November while the quantity of iron ore transported rose to 9.46 million tons (mt) as compared to 8.37 mt in the previous month. Overall, the Indian Railways' revenue earnings from commodity-wise freight traffic rose month-on-month in December, mainly due to higher transportation of coal and iron ore. Revenue earnings from commodity-wise freight traffic during December 2012 stood at Rs 7491.74 crore, up 8.82% compared with Rs 6,884.56 crore earned in November.

  Four category 'A' mines operational in Karnataka
   

Only four category "A" mines with production capacity of 2 million tons (mt) of iron ore per annum have currently come into operation in Karnataka, an official in an iron ore mining company said. Earlier, about 18 category "A" mines with production capacity of about 5 million tons per annum (mtpa) were expected to be operational by 2012 end. Therefore, the current availability of iron ore stood at 14 mtpa, with NMDC having the approval to produce 12 mtpa from its mines in Karnataka, the official said.

  SAIL, RINL conclude negotiations for Q1 coking coal procurement
   

State-owned mills Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL) have concluded negotiations for the procurement of coking coal from Australia and the US for the first quarter of 2013, according to industry sources. BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) managed to clinch Australian coking coal contracts with the Indian mills. Anglo American and Peabody, who also sell Australian coking coal, have not yet concluded deals, sources said.
SAIL was said to have contracted around 1 million tons (mt) of hard coking coal from BMA for January-March quarter, the price for half of which was determined by the "benchmark" quarterly price set in Japan in early December. The premium for mid-vol hard coking coals Goonyella and Illawarra was set at $162/ton fob Australia. The other half is to be determined by BMA's monthly pricing mechanism. Meanwhile, RINL had finalised the procurement of Peak Downs, Saraji and Gregory coking coals from BMA using a mixture of monthly and quarterly pricing. The quarterly price for Peak Downs and Saraji was in line with the Japanese benchmark price of $165/ton fob.

  Steel price to go up in February 2013
   

Steel may become costlier again in the next month, on the back of pick up in domestic demand and rise in international prices, due to a spurt in input costs. "With the firming up of international prices and growth in domestic consumption, steel prices may further recover. The recovery has started with the recent hikes and will continue," says A P Choudhary, CMD - RINL. While the hike was up to Rs 1,400 per tonne in this month, it was around Rs 1,500 a tonne in December 2012. "Iron ore prices have gone up internationally from USD 90 per tonne to USD 150 a tonne now. They have to reflect in the pricing of the steel," SAIL Chairman C S Verma said. Having remained subdued for most part of 2012, the demand for steel picked up since October last year as the construction activity gained momentum.

  NMDC's production, sales dip
   

NMDC's production and sales took a beating by over 13 per cent during the April-December period of the current fiscal. The company produced 175.56 lakh tonnes iron ore during the first nine months of the current fiscal, a 13.3 per cent dip over 202.79 lakh tonnes produced a year ago. Sales also declined by 13.47 per cent during the April- December period to stand at 180.38 lakh tonnes against 208.45 lakh tonnes in the corresponding period last fiscal, a Steel Ministry data has showed.
However, both sales and production of the company during December increased by 2.13 per cent and 8.5 per cent to 9.41 lakh tonnes and 22.34 lakh tonnes, respectively.NMDC's share in the country's iron ore production had slipped to 11 per cent in 2009-10, from 14 per cent in 2005-06, but had gone up to 16 per cent in 2011-12, mainly because of the ban on private mining in Karnataka.

  Auto Industry performance indicates slowdown
   

The cumulative production data for April-December 2012 shows production growth of only 2.16 percent over the same period last year. The industry produced 1,697,625 vehicles in December 2012 as against 1,677,588 in December 2011, with marginal growth at 1.19 percent. The overall growth in domestic sales during April-December 2012 was 4.57 percent over the same period last year. However, in December 2012, overall sales grew only marginally by 2.77 percent over December 2011.
Passenger Vehicles segment grew at 8.37 percent during April-December 2012 over same period last year. Passenger Cars declined by -0.33 percent, Utility Vehicles grew by 59.10 percent and Vans grew by 3.71 percent during April-December 2012 as compared to the same period last year. However, in December 2012 passenger car sales fell by (-12.51) percent over December 2011. Total passenger vehicles sales also declined by (-1.13) percent in December 2012 over same month last year. The overall Commercial Vehicles segment registered marginal growth of 0.74 percent in April-December 2012 as compared to the same period last year. While Medium & Heavy Commercial Vehicles (M&HCVs) registered decline at (-19.13) percent, Light Commercial Vehicles grew at 15.61 percent. In December 2012, M&HCVs sales declined by (-38.34) percent over December 2011.
Three Wheelers sales grew by 4.96 percent in April-December 2012. Passenger Carriers grew by 8.96 percent during April-December 2012 and Goods Carriers registered de-growth at (-10.29) percent during this period. Two Wheelers registered a growth of only 4.09 percent during April-December 2012. Scooters, mopeds and motorcycles grew by 18.44 percent, 1.80 percent and 0.77 percent respectively over same period last year. However, in December 2012 Scooters and Motorcycles grew by 6.40 percent and 4.83 percent respectively, while mopeds declined by (-6.88) percent over the same period last year. During April-December 2012, overall automobile exports registered de-growth of (-2.92) percent compared to the same period last year. Passenger Vehicles grew by 10.52 percent, while the other segments like Commercial Vehicles, Three Wheelers and Two Wheelers fell by -4.76 percent, -20.88 percent and -2.79 percent respectively. In December 2012 Passenger Vehicles, Two & Three wheelers segment grew by 31.59 percent 9.36 percent and 4.63 percent respectively, while Commercial Vehicles declined by -25.79 percent.

  HRC prices remain firm, prices may be hiked again in February
   

Hot rolled coil (HRC) prices remained firm as high international prices made imports unviable, market sources said. The high international prices, however, boosted the potential of Indian mills to export in the international markets, sources said. There is already talk of another round of price hikes in February, sources said. Producers have only recently announced Rs 500-1,000/ton increase in base prices for this month. This hike is being supported by a weak rupee and unattractively-priced import offers.
Offers for structural HRC, 3mm thick and above, presently averaged Rs 34,000-35,000/ton. This is equivalent to an import parity of $581-597/ton cfr. Import offers for equivalent material continue to average $610-620/ton cfr or more. The domestic market is picking up, but not so much on the demand front as in terms of prices. But this quarter is also traditionally the most active being the last quarter of the fiscal year. It should be better than remaining the fiscal year, sources said.

  BSP to install grid - enabled solar plant
   

Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) is going to install a grid-enabled solar power plant at Bhilai Niwas as part of its green initiative. L T Sherpa, ED (P&A), BSP, formally started the erection work for the installation of 2x100 KWp Photo Voltic Solar Power Plant on January 4, a company statement said. The system will take care of the lighting requirements at Bhilai Niwas. BSP is also planning to install similar systems in many of its office buildings in the coming years. The total project cost would be around Rs 3.47 crore, of which Rs 1.04 crore is being subsidised by the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE). BHEL has got the order for supply and installation of the solar power plant. The consultant of the project is Bhilai Engineering & Design Bureau of BSP.

  SAIL production grows by 2% in Apr-Dec '12
   

The New Year 2013 began on a positive note for Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) as the company recorded growth of 2% in hot metal, and 1% and 2% in crude & saleable steel production respectively for the period April–Dec 2012 over the corresponding period last year (CPLY). Production of hot metal, crude steel and saleable steel for the 9-month period stood at 10.7 million tonnes (MT), 10.09 MT and 9.25 MT respectively. On the front of techno-economic parameters of production, SAIL's performance was marked with an improvement in energy consumption, blast furnace productivity and power generation by 3%, 3% and 5% respectively. The April-December 2012 period saw development of new products in the company. SAIL Bhilai Steel Plant supplied special soft iron magnetic plates for the prestigious India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). SAIL plants at Bokaro and Salem started production of IS 2062 E450 and E 350 HR Coils tailor-made for Indian Railways.

  No major impact due to duty hike on prime tinplate - Steel Ministry
   

That domestic metal container makers are not significantly impacted by the hike in import duty on prime tinplate to 7.5% in the last budget. Mr DRS Chaudhary Steel Secretary said , "We are of the view that there does not appear to be any significant impact of increase in import duty on tinplate from 5% to 7.5% on the local metal container industry." The manufacturers of metal containers, which find use in packaging, an industry under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, imports tinplates to cater to the INR 4,000 crore domestic metal containers market.
India consumes around 5 lakh tonnes tinplates a year. Almost half of that is imported which comprises 35% to 40% of seconds and defectives. The government did not change duty on seconds imports in the last Budget, but increased the basic customs rate on prime tinplates from 5% to 7.5%. Mr Chaudhary said ,"We have also looked into the total impact of increased customs duty only about 49,200 tonnes of prime tinplates were imported during the period and the total impact of the increase works out to about INR 7.98 crore." Steel Authority of India, Tinplate Company of India, GPT Steel Industries and Vallabh Steel are major tinplate makers in the country with a total installed capacity of 7.8 lakh tonnes per annum. He said ,"The lower capacity utilization is mainly because of substantial import of low price tinplate, particularly the seconds & defective and waste tinplates. In fact, Indian tinplate manufacturers have been requesting for upward revision of custom duty on prime tinplate.”

  Revision authority stays Odisha dictate on miners
   

The Union Mines Ministry's revision authority has stayed the enforcement of Odisha government directive that barred merchant miners to raise minerals during their deemed extension period. The authority has stayed the resolution after hearing complaints of several merchant miners of Odisha. "The latest move will increase iron ore availability in the country, which was affected to some extent after the Odisha government in its October 3 circular issued a new guideline for the second and subsequent renewal of iron ore, manganese, chromite and bauxite mines in the state," industry sources said. According to the circular, if the mineral from the mining lease is being used for captive purpose, the areas to be renewed shall be limited to the captive requirement of 30 years of the existing capacity of the mineral industry of the lessee. The circular had severely affected availability of iron ore in the country as well as steelmakers without any captive iron ore mines.

  NTPC net profit up by 22pct in Q3
   

India's largest power generation company NTPC's net profit grew by 21.9% YoY to INR 2,596.8 crore higher than expectations in the Q3 of financial year 2012-13. Net sales rose just 2.5% lower than analysts' forecast, to INR 15,775 crore from INR 15,384 crore during the same period. Analysts on an average were expecting net profit at INR 2,476 crore and net sales at INR 16,681 crore for the quarter.