Maintaining its capacity utilisation of saleable steel production at 104%, Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) ended the financial year 2004-05 with a record breaking performance in production and sales. This assumed a special significance in view of the coking coal crisis that throttled production of saleable steel by 11% during the first half of the fiscal ’05. For the first time, the company’s turnover for 2004-05 is all set to cross Rs 30,000 crore for any fiscal. The audited financial results of the company for FY ’05 will be announced in May 2005.
Faced with the crisis of coal shortage, the company revised its strategy with a focus on optimising production of value-added products through the continuous casting (CC) route. Record finished steel production at 9.28 million tonnes (MT) with a growth of 5% over the previous year, record CC production of 7.53 MT (4% growth) and highest-ever CC ratio of 64% in total crude steel as against 61% in 2003-04 are some of the key production highlights. The proportion of finished steel in total production during 2004-05 went up to 84% from a level of 80% achieved during 2003-04 thereby reducing the proportion of semis.
Impressive growth was achieved in some of value added product categories – 15% in production of plates, 8% in bars & rounds, 7% in rails and 38% in wheels & axels.
Besides, the company achieved best-ever overall energy consumption of 7.28 giga calories per tonne of crude steel with a reduction of 2% over the previous year. The coke rate recorded the lowest ever figure at 536 kg per tonne of hot metal with a reduction of 1% over 2003-04.
Reflecting on the record-breaking performance, SAIL Chairman Mr. V.S. Jain commented: “Our continued enhanced performance proves that we are now well set on the path of sustained growth supported by internal strength. If the year 2003-04 was a year of turnaround for SAIL, the year 2004-05 marked a new beginning of sustained growth. This has been possible due to the dedicated support of employees.”
The surge in production was supported by highest-ever sales of steel in the domestic market during the period. At 10.3 MT, SAIL achieved a growth of 8% in the domestic sales over the previous year. The company made conscious efforts to make more steel available in the country by containing exports of steel at 4 lakh tonnes as against the 11-lakh tonnes shipped during 2003-04.
The company’s thrust on enhancing revenue from value-added products paid rich dividends as substantial growth was recorded in domestic sales of plates (32%), HR coils (8%), TMT (30%), wheels & axles (33%) and heavy structurals (20%). Sales of special steel crossed the 1 MT level for the first time during 2004-05, recording a growth of 31% over the previous year. The company supplied 7.3 lakh tonnes of rails to the Indian Railways, 5% higher than the volume of 2003-04. SAIL’s supply to the railways also included long rails measuring up to 78 metres in length.
Having announced the highest ever profit of Rs 2,512 crore for 2003-04, the company further consolidated its financial strength by reducing its borrowings by Rs 2,800 crore, leading to interest charges coming down by Rs 300 crore, during the just-concluded financial year.
The company’s labour productivity rose by 4% to the level of 142 tonnes per man per year.