Indian exporters are hopeful of pig iron exports picking-up January onwards anticipating better demand from the US — a key market.

Some 40,000-60,000-odd tonnes are being booked for the US in January, the first one since the withdrawal of the duty in November, trade sources and Ministry officials tell businessline. Domestic pig iron prices are at around ₹40,000 per tonne.

The US is India’s largest pig iron export market. Pig iron export in the April-November period was 5,13,300 tonnes, of which 3,76,000 tonnes, or over 70 per cent was shipped to the US.

The export of pig iron, a key raw material in steel making, had been falling continuously since duty imposition in May. India is amongst the top few pig iron market exporters globally, the biggest being Russia.

“The resumption of exports is expected to bring some respite to the supply glut in the domestic market,” said Steelmint in a report.

It added that with the prevailing embargo on supplies from Russia — the world’s leading pig iron exporter — chances are that Indian suppliers stand to gain. Brazil has been one of the leading suppliers to the US with Indian offerings becoming costlier from May onwards.

With the country (the US) “experiencing a cold snap”, which has disrupted normal industrial operations; US mills are stocking up on metallics in the apprehension of a possible scrap shortage post the New Year holidays, the report further said.

Exports dip 

From 2,12,000 tonnes being exported in April — the highest this year, pig iron export offers kept dropping consistently through May (1,32,500 tonnes), June (71,800 tonnes), July (35,500 tonnes) and dropped the most in August (8,800 tonnes). It picked up slightly in September (31,700 tonnes) only to drop again for two consecutive months again — October (14,600 tonnes) and November (6,400 tonnes), respectively.

Exports had remained dented due to the duty impact since June-July and mills had resumed full-fledged operations in September post-maintenance breaks, trade sources said.

Slowdown in other markets

According to a report of the Union Steel Ministry, for the April-November period of this fiscal, exports to the US stood at 3,76,000 tonnes.

Between October and November, 10,000 tonnes were exported to the country, which as per the Ministry report was close to 50 per cent of the total exports during these two months.

The other major market that saw some increase for this period was Nepal, 9,800 tonnes increase over September (till November); and Saudi Arabia (1,800 tonnes). Other markets like Oman, Bangladesh, the UAE, Taiwan, and Thailand, saw export orders remain constant between September and November.