State-owned Steel Authority of India (Sail) has forecast a 5pc year-on-year rise in its steel sales to 15mn t in the financial year that ends March 2021.
The company aims to increase sales by doubling exports to 2.4mn t in 2020-21. Exports hit a record high of 1.18mn t in 2019-20, a year-on-year rise of 54pc.
The export increase helped raise the company's total steel sales during the year to their highest level of 14.5mn t, an increase of 2.8pc. The higher exports also helped Sail reduce its inventories to 1.65mn t as of 30 June compared with 1.7mn t as of 31 March and 2mn t as of 30 May.
Sail's export destinations include China, Vietnam, the Philippines and the Middle East. The company recorded its highest monthly exports of 340,000t in June, with an aim of shipping around 300,000t in July.
Most major Indian mills, including Tata Steel, JSW Steel and JSPL, have turned to exports in response to a decline in domestic demand following India's nationwide Covid-19 lockdown, which began on 25 March.
Sail's steel sales fell by 54.8pc on the year to 933,000t during April-May, according to steel ministry data. The company's crude steel output dropped by 0.7pc from the previous year to 16.15mn t in 2019-20.
Sail expects to increase its crude steel output in 2020-21 once labour shortage issues are resolved in consumer sectors. India's nationwide lockdown resulted in an exodus of migrant workers from major cities to their home towns, stalling logistics and other operations in consumer sectors such as construction and automobile.
The lockdown has been extended to 31 July in major steel-consuming cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Chennai, as Covid-19 infections continue to climb, reaching 900,000 cases as of this morning.