India's sponge iron exports tank 40% to 550,000 t in FY '21
India's sponge iron exports plunged 40% in FY '21 - slipping down to around 550,000t from 910,000 t in FY '20, SteelMint data shows. The major factor was obviously the decline in domestic sponge iron production following the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent nation-wide lockdown.
In addition, lack of buying interest from the neighbouring South Asian nations due to the recessionary effect of the pandemic also weighed on exports, SteelMint notes.
India's sponge iron production stood at a little over 34 mn t in FY21 - about 8% down from over 37 mn t in the preceding fiscal. A majority of domestic sponge iron producers had to idle their kilns during the lockdown in Q1 FY21 and production suffered as a result. Therefore, overall export allocations shrunk in FY21 compared to the previous fiscal.
Moreover, the non-operationalisation of auctioned iron ore leases in Odisha resulted in a dramatic drop in merchant ore production in 2020. This created a paucity of raw materials for non-integrated DRI producers and even after full-scale resumption of manufacturing facilities raw materials supplies remained scant due to the decline in Odisha production volumes.
Exports to Bangladesh down 33%
Bangladesh retained the top position in the league of sponge iron importers from India although imports fell a straight 33% y-o-y to 0.29 mn t in FY21. Likewise, Bhutan saw a massive plunge in sponge iron imports to 0.07 mn t and exports to Nepal, too, tanked by 8% to 0.17 mn t in FY21.