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News Release

India’s bulks supply chain takes a hit during lockdown

1 minute read

India is under a three-week lockdown from 25 March to contain the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. Businesses are shut, and the supply chain is disrupted. Industries are either closed or operating at sub-optimal utilisation.

Wood Mackenzie principal analyst Sandeep Kalia weighs in on what this means for the Indian bulks commodities sector:

“The obstruction in the supply chains has hit the secondary steel producers the most, forcing them to either scale down or suspend their operations due to issues with raw materials supply, limited workforce and holding-on inventories, as demand dries up.

“Integrated steel mills, especially with captive raw material supplies, good liquidity and better inventory management, are better placed in the current environment.

“Still, due to limited demand, these integrated mills are also either reducing their capacity utilisation or suspending their operations in entirety as well. We expect Q2 2020 crude steel production to decline by 19% or 5 million tonnes (Mt) year-on-year (yoy).

“The production of merchant iron ore miners have been struck due to limited workforce, inter and intra state logistic issues and scaling down or suspension of operations by both integrated and secondary steel mills. Our current base case is changed to 39 Mt iron ore demand in Q2 2020, which is a 7 Mt or 16% decline yoy.

“Overall, we expect most of the domestic iron ore production to meet the demand from the steel industry.

“Domestic metallurgical coal production, which meets 10% of demand, will continue during the country lockdown period as most of it is captive. The greater downside risk is on the import of metallurgical coal, in case of an extended lockdown. In our current base case, we expect met coal imports to decline by 2 Mt or 15% in Q2 2020 yoy due to a decline in coke production, in line with a decrease in hot metal production and a slight drop in demand of coke by consumers other than steel mills.”

On thermal coal, principal analyst Pralabh Bhargava said: “Thermal coal demand should reduce by 25-30% in April and an overall 8% in Q2, assuming a gradual recovery starting 15 April. We forecast thermal coal imports to decline by 10 Mt or 22% yoy in Q2 to a run rate of about 12 Mt per month from a run rate of 15- 16 Mt per month witnessed over the last six months.”

In an extended lockdown scenario till mid-May 2020, Wood Mackenzie expects further downside risk in steel production, iron ore demand, metallurgical and thermal coal imports of 5 Mt, 10 Mt, 5 Mt and 5 Mt respectively in Q2.

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