RINL (Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd), the state-owned steel major and one of the rare long steel makers in the country, is in a tight corner, grappling with severe operational constraints. Raw material shortages have slashed its production capacity by 60 per cent, and only one of its three blast furnaces is currently operating.

The ongoing strike at Adani-owned Gangavaram Port has further exacerbated the company’s struggles, leaving crucial coking coal and limestone worth ₹650 crore stranded. Coal and limestone are key steel-making feedstock.

Despite attempts to secure commodity loans and explore alternative ports, current stocks are dwindling fast and are currently “at a few days”.

With the spectre of colossal debt looming large, borrowing for additional raw materials is “not an immediate option”. The Ministry earlier ruled out a recapitalisation of RINL, and the steel-maker is on the Centre’s disinvestment radar.

“If the situation is not resolved, there will be an imminent shutdown that threatens extensive damage and exorbitant restoration costs,” a Steel Ministry official told businessline.

RINL has approached the Andhra government for intervention and has also taken legal action to get its raw materials supply on track. The Steel Ministry has reportedly been apprised, too.

Force Throttle of Ops

Operations are forcefully curtailed, dramatically reducing coke oven pushings and hot metal production.

The coke oven pushings per day were brought down to 140, down 56 per cent, from 320 pushings, and the hot metal production was brought down to 5,600 tonnes per day from around 14,000 tonnes per day. T

Coal awaiting evacuation at Gangavaram includes 142,000 tonnes of hard coking coal, 90,000 tonnes of pulverised coal injection and around 82,000 tonnes of limestone.

Vessels carrying soft coking coal are diverted.

The typical blend of coking coal is around 50-70 per cent hard coking coal, 30-40 per cent soft coking coal and another 10 - 20 per cent indigenous coking coal. The average daily requirement of coal was around 12,000 tonnes for normal production, which included around 8,000 tonnes of hard coking coal (HCC), 2,500 tonnes of soft coking coal (SCC), and 1,500 tonnes of indigenous coal .

“The absence of coking coal jeopardizes equipment and safety, risking gas leakages and blasts,” the Ministry official said.

In 2014, RINL entered into a 15-year contract with Adani Gangavaram Port Ltd (AGPL), formerly GPL (Gangavaram Port Ltd), to facilitate the handling of imported raw materials.

The Logistics Wall

The disruption at AGPL has halted coal transfer, leaving over 314,000 tonnes stranded, while vessels carrying soft coking coal are diverted, exacerbating the scarcity.

Alternative berthing arrangements at Vizag Port bring along logistics issues, including elongating coal transfer times. A 20-minute transfer time from Gangavaram port to the plant through a conveyor belt now increases to “at least 24 hours” in view of the availability of rakes, berthing spaces, etc.