Coronavirus lockdown: Allow refractory makers to operate plants else steel production will be affected, says IRMA

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Published: April 2, 2020 3:42:50 PM

IRMA on Thursday said refractory manufacturers must be allowed to operate plants during the lockdown period as non-availability of the key ingredient could hit steel production.

All steel stocks ended in the red in the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) between 1.22% and 14.42%.All steel plants are carrying some inventory ranging from 10-15 days.

The Indian Refractory Makers Association (IRMA) on Thursday said refractory manufacturers must be allowed to operate plants during the lockdown period as non-availability of the key ingredient could hit steel production. While the government has allowed the steel industry to continue operations along with raw materials like iron ore and coke during the lockdown under the Essential Services Maintenance Act, but refractory which is a critical component for production of any high temperature manufacturing process like steel, cement or brass, agrochemicals has been left out, the IRMA said.

“All steel plants are carrying some inventory ranging from 10-15 days. But they need to be replenished and everyday we are getting calls from major steel manufacturers regarding supply of refractories,” IRMA Chairman Parmod Sagar told PTI. If things remain as they are now, he said steel production will be impacted going forward.

“Even if we start production, it takes about 5-8 days from the start of process to delivering the end product to steel makers,” Sagar added. While the industry body has approached the government to allow refractory makers to start production and uninterrupted movement of raw materials and finished goods across the border, he said it is still waiting for a response on the same. At the same time, Sagar said drivers abandoning trucks carrying finished materials to customers on highways have also compounded the problem.

“Many trucks were on the way but are now stuck due to the lockdown with many drivers abandoning vehicles and going to native places or nearby safe shelters,” he said. Commenting on labour issue, he said like any other industry refractory manufacturers are also facing the problem due to the exodus of migrant workers.

“However, we still have people, who can run plants. The industry will have about 25 per cent people but that will at least help in keeping some supplies to our customers,” Sagar said. When asked about the financial impact of the lockdown on the refractory manufacturers, he said, “the cumulative industry revenue loss due to closure is roughly about Rs 200 crore in the last seven days.” On the other hand, materials worth around Rs 1,550-2,000 crore are stuck in transit due to non-movement of vehicles, Sagar added.

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