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Iron ore import to rise 6% to 15 million tonnes in FY19: Report

Iron ore import to rise 6% to 15 million tonnes in FY19: Report

Iron ore imports by the Country is projected to touch 15 million tonnes (mt) by the close of this fiscal, 60 per cent higher than 8.7 mt imported in FY18, as per the forecasts of the Pellet Manufacturers Association of India (PMAI). Imports of the key steelmaking ingredient is the highest since 2014-15 when the Country imported a record 15 mt as benchmark prices of 62 Fe grade ore tanked to a historic low of $45 a tonne and domestic output had slumped to multi-year low of 129 mt due to mining bans.

In the April-September period of this fiscal, steel mills, primarily those concentrated in Karnataka, have already imported 7.97 mt valued at $471.2 million, marking 90 per cent of the entire volume imported in FY18. Imports in this period soared 183 per cent over the year-ago period.

During July 2018, iron ore imports have peaked at 1.93 mt, the highest monthly record in the past five years. Imports in August and September have slowed to 1.49 mt and 1.05 mt respectively, data by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) showed. A report by CARE Ratings attributed the mellowing iron ore imports to rupee slump which reduced the spread between landed costs of iron ore and domestic prices, making imported ore less viable for steel makers.

The forecast, however, is bullish for iron ore imports through the October-March period buoyed by firm domestic demand for the ore. “The Country is importing one mt each month and the same trend is expected to prevail in the balance period of this fiscal. Steel plants in Karnataka are leading acceleration in iron ore imports which could touch 15 mt in this financial year. Also, NMDC, the largest miner suspending operations at its Karnataka mine will fuel imports”, said a PMAI source.

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