India’s production linked incentive (PLI) scheme for specialty steel-making has received eight specific proposals from Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL)– the highest by any company; followed by Tata Steel which has submitted proposals in seven categories, Union Steel Ministry sources said.

According to an official, JSPL has committed nearly ₹7,930 crore under the scheme through its Odisha-based subsidiary Jindal Steel, Odisha.

The other major steel makers who have been selected under India’s PLI scheme include JSW Steel – which has applications in six specialty steel making categories and followed by Arcelor Mittal Nippon Steel (AMNS) that has proposals in four of the eight categories.

PSU-major SAIL has applications in two categories of speciality steel-making.

Push for downstream offerings

The official said, one of the eight-odd grades of specialty-steel making in which JSPL has expressed interest is the hot rolled coils, sheets and plate-making of API grade, that finds usage in oil and gas projects.

Investments have been proposed (by JSPL) towards making of high tensile sheet, coil and plate-making that are used in auto industry, structural fabrication and so on.

Other grades of specialty steel-making that will target the auto industry include cold rolled coated products; and high end auto-grade steel (also called AHSS or advanced high grade specialty steel).

In the downstream segment, there has been interest from JSPL and some others in making tin mill products (used tins and food packaging).

There are proposals for investments in: coated and plated products of metallic or non-metallic alloys that are generally used in white goods manufacturing; galvalume-making (coating consisting of zinc, aluminum and silicon used to protect metals from oxidation) and colour coated steels – both of which are used in roof-making; and in consumer durables like air conditioning and LED lights.

“India’s production of these downstream offerings is quite low and these are mostly imported. Moreover, in flat steel, there are just four big players that include JSW, AMNS, Tata and SAIL,” the official said.

Rising imports

India, the world’s second largest crude steel producer turned net importer (imports higher than export) of steel for October and November indicating strain on the metal cycle, and also because international prices were lower than that of domestic offerings.

Imports in October was 5,93,000 tonnes; while in November it was 6,00,000 tonnes.

JSW, the country’s largest steel-maker, has raised the issue of imports during its analyst call. “From a volume perspective, the downstream products, we see that imports have picked up and that is mostly in this cold rolled and coated space. We feel this will maybe even out in this quarter (Oct – Dec),” Jayant Acharya, Deputy MD, JSW Steel had said.

PLI Scheme

The Ministry has selected 67-odd applications from 30-odd companies under the PLI Scheme for specialty steel. The proposals will attract investments of ₹42,500 crore with a downstream capacity addition of 26 million tonnes (mt).

The scheme was approved by the Union Cabinet on July 22–2021, with a five-year financial outlay of ₹6,322 crore. It had received 79 applications from 35 small and large steel-making companies, committing to investment of ₹46,000 crore and downstream capacity addition of 28 mt.