Iron and steel prices in Punjab have plunged by 10-15 per cent over the last 20 days on account of lower demand for steel products, primarily from the construction and light engineering sectors.

The price of steel ingots, which is a key input in rolling mills, dropped to Rs 28,000 per metric tonnes (MT) from Rs 32,500 per MT 20 days ago.

“The major reason behind the fall in (steel) ingot prices is the lack of demand for steel by consuming industries, such as construction, engineering sectors etc,” Raj Sood, a steel trader based in Mandi Gobindgarh said.

Consequently, the prices of rolled products MS Bar, TMT and MS Round also posted a dip of 15 per cent to Rs 32,000, Rs 32,000 and 32,500 per MT respectively, they said.

Because of the depressed demand for steel products, induction furnaces and rolling mills operating in the state have been forced to cut down on their capacity utilisation by 25 per cent. “The mills have reduced their production capacity by almost 25 per cent in view of lower demand for steel products,” Vinod Vashisht, a Khanna—based rolling mill owner, said.

Notably, recent load-shedding announced by the Punjab State Power Corporation at induction furnaces and rolling mills did not affect the movement of steel prices, primarily due to the sluggish demand. The state power authorities have announced two days of weekly power-offs for steel producers.

“Even though power cuts have been imposed on the industry, steel prices have not gone up as there is a gap between demand and supply (for steel),” said Vashisht.

Punjab, a major producer of steel, has nearly 200 induction furnaces and 400 rolling mills spread across Mandi Gobindgarh, Ludhiana and Khanna.

Steel is mostly used in the bicycle, auto parts, hand tools and construction industries.

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