Corus may operate at 100% by March: Tata Steel

Corus may operate at 100% by March: Tata Steel

New Delhi: Tata Steel Ltd, the world’s eighth-largest steel maker, expects its European unit Corus to be operating at full capacity by the end of the fiscal year in March, a top official said on Wednesday.

Corus, Europe’s second-largest steelmaker, operated at 80% capacity in October, vice chairman B Muthuraman told reporters at an industry conference.

The company had been operating at about half its 20 million tonnes steelmaking capacity in Europe for the past few quarters, and joins other steelmakers in predicting better prospects.

“International operations in the second half are looking much better. I can say that second half demand is definitely better in the world as a whole, including in Europe," Muthuraman said.

“We expect to step it up by next month."

Last month, Tata Steel officials said demand in Europe was reviving on the back of inventory rebuilding, but it would take several years to return to previous capacity levels.

Global steel production has tumbled this year as demand from key industries such as construction and automotive shrank. But as macroeconomic data improves and inventories deplete, demand is gradually coming back, encouraging steelmakers to restart some idled capacity.

ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, last month said production was set to rise to about 70% of capacity in the fourth quarter from 61% in the third, amid higher selling prices.

In October, the World Steel Association forecast steel demand would fall 8.6% this year, a much smaller fall than the 15% it predicted in April.

Meanwhile, Tata Steel officials said the company had cut flat product prices in India, in line with other local firms.

Major Indian producers, including Steel Authority of India, JSW Steel and Ispat Industries have cut prices of flat products, used in automobiles and consumer goods, by $16 to $30 in November.

Shares in Tata Steel, valued at $8.5 billion, have more than doubled so far in 2009, outperforming the benchmark index that has gained 63% in the same period.