Indian Ferro Alloy Conference (IFAC) is back after a hiatus of three years.
Production and consumption
Much has happened in-between though. Covid struck in end-2019. Ferro alloys production and consumption ebbed and flowed with India’s crude steel production which dropped to 102 mnt in FY2021 but recovered to 118 mnt in FY2022.
India’s ferro alloy production, against a pre-Covid (2019)-level of 7.31 mnt, plunged to 4.53 mnt in 2020, recouping to 6.19 mnt in 2021. But the post-Covid economic revival led to a sudden spurt in power demand while generation fell short. Resultantly, gas and coal prices spiralled from middle of 2021, impacting smelters. Power comprises almost 30% of the cost of a ferro alloy unit.
Russia-Ukraine war impact
However, the Russia-Ukraine war offered exports solace. In 2021, Russia exported around 0.86 mnt of ferro alloys, the bulk of it to EU. Ukraine too exported 0.58 mnt. But, with supplies disrupted, the high energy costs persisted, forcing EU smelters to curtail output, helping Indian smelters reap export benefits.
But what lies ahead?
The high energy tariffs will persist for some time. However, if domestic crude steel production sustains last fiscal’s momentum, ferro alloys consumption will remain buoyant.