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MSC attends international steel symposium

A number of senior Mobarakeh Steel Company (MSC) managers and experts, members of the Iron and Steel Society of Iran, along with the chairman of the Turkish Steel Exporters’ Association and representatives of 70 other countries were on hand for the inaugural of a Steel Symposium in Tabriz on February 28.
In a keynote speech, Jafar Sarghini, who leads the Mines and Mineral Industries Department of the Ministry of Industries, Mines and Trade, presented a status report on the steel industry in the country and elaborated – among other things – on plans to raise the country’s per capita steel consumption from 200 kg to 500 kg, a comprehensive plan to increase overall steel production to 55 million tons a year, the steel industry’s overall achievements so far and steel exports.
He described the development of mines and transportation infrastructure and an increase in the supply of concentrates and sponge iron as essential requirements for the industry to achieve its stated goal of producing 55 million tons of steel on a yearly basis.
The deputy minister further said in Iran iron ore is mostly used to produce steel, whereas in most other countries scraps are used in steelmaking. “To make production of 55 million tons of steel a reality, we need to produce 100 million tons of concentrates, a proportional amount of pellets, and 65 million tons of sponge iron. Some experts believe that goal is unrealistic and cannot be achieved. However, on the back of what has been done and what is being done, we believe it is within reach.”
Sarghini went on to put the country’s steel production capacity at 30 million tons. “To raise that figure to 55 million tons, we need to develop our mines by 150 million tons. That won’t be possible unless miners and the private sector rush to the aid of the government.”
In 2016, global steel production registered a 1 percent growth to rise to 1.6 billion tons, he said, adding during the same period production in Iran was up 7-8 percent over the year before. It is expected to soar to 18.5 million tons by the end of the year.
The deputy minister said in the past the steel production cycle in the country was flawed, with smelting and rolling being the focus of attention. The imbalance in question is to blame for an actual production of 18 million tons, whereas the capacity is 31 million tons. For instance, in the 12 months to March 2014, slab production capacity stood at 24 million tons, but the capacity to produce sponge iron was no more than 18 million tons. Fortunately, today a relative balance is being struck between the two. Currently we are producing 31 million tons of slabs, 27 million tons of sponge iron, 35 million tons of pellets and 45 million tons of concentrates.
Recalling the considerable growth in steel exports, he said that in the 12 months to March 20, 2013, the country exported a meager 150,000-200,000 tons of steel. In the first 10 months of the current year [ends March 20, 2017] exports amounted to 4.5 million tons. By the end of the year, it is projected to exceed 5.5 million tons. What is important is that, without resort to dumping, Iran has exported 1 million tons of steel to European markets.
He signaled the government’s resolve to support steel exports and said up until three years ago, there was a cap on steel exports, but today there are no limitations.
Support for the steel industry comes in the form of tariffs, he said, adding introduction of tariffs is an important tool in the hands of governments to support domestic industries. “This year, we raised tariffs. Suggestions have been floated for tariffs to be scaled back next year. They are just suggestions for now. Nothing is final yet.”
In conclusion, the deputy minister said supply of water, bank loans and shortcomings associated with absorption of local and foreign financing are among major hurdles interfering with the development of the steel industry. “The government seeks not to get involved in pricing steel products; it will only use tariffs in its bid to support the local industry.”
On the sidelines of the symposium, an exhibition was held at Tabriz International Fairground. Mobarakeh Steel Company and 226 other firms, including 70 from overseas, participated in the exhibition.
On day two of the symposium, a paper by Mr. Mohammad Reza Yaghubi on the design and development of a system to gauge the width of steel sheets with cameras and laser at MSC was presented. It drew a warm welcome from the participants.

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