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Mobarakeh exceeds monthly steel capacity as expansion plans continue

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Iran's Mobarakeh Steel has exceeded its planned production in the past month, the latest sign that the country's mills are responding strongly to consumer demand in the sanctioned state.

The company produced 473,000 tonnes of slab between March 20 and April 19, data shows - almost one-eighth more than scheduled.

"Mobarakeh has managed to raise the number of daily heats steadily over the past few years so that we had 103 heats on peak days last month," Morteza Momeni, head of steelmaking and continuous casting, said.

"We managed to raise production of slab by upgrading four of our 180-tonne electric arc furnaces [EAFs] from 90MVA to 125MVA. The improvements will see heat times, tap to tap, reduced to 70 minutes from 100 minutes. Upgrades to the remaining four EAFs are also planned," Momeni said.

"We had a production plan for 420,000 tonnes of slab in the past month. In fact, we exceeded the nominal production capacity by 53,000 tonnes," he said.

Rise in output
The rise in output represents an 18% increase over the 402,000 tonnes of slab produced in the corresponding period in 2011.

The company also saw a 19% increase in its production of hot rolled coil (HRC) over the same period to 460,000 tonnes, compared with 387,000 tonnes last year.

Mobarakeh Steel produced about 5 million tonnes of crude steel in the 12 months ending March 19, 2012 - Iran's calendar year - according to the Iranian Mines & Mining Industries Development & Renovation Organisation (Imidro).

Momeni said the company is "optimistic" of reaching production of 5.5 million tonnes of slab in the year to March 20, 2013, "if we manage to keep production level in the coming months".

Fuel concerns, chiefly shortages of electricity in summer and gas in winter, could yet restrict production, Momeni warned. Deliveries of raw materials such as sponge iron, and the capacities of the ladle furnaces and the continuous casting machine, could also hamper growth, he said.

Meeting domestic demand
Isfahan-based Mobarakeh Steel is Iran's largest steelmaker and has a 5.4 million tpy crude steel capacity. It also has two subsidiaries: Hormozgan Steel, which makes 1.5 million tpy of slab; and Saba, which has a 700,000 tpy capacity for HRC.

The company is currently expanding to capitalise on rising demand for steel in a country forced to turn inwards for supply in the face of international trade sanctions.

It has established two 1.5 million direct reduced iron mega-modules, the first of which is scheduled for formal operation next month while the second is in the final stages of construction.

It is also building a 1.8 million-tpy continuous casting machine and has plans for a new ladle furnace and a 4.5 million-tpy hot rolling mill.

The company will reach a capacity of 7.2 million tpy of crude steel once all projects are complete.

Sohrab Mehrabian 
smehrabian@metalbulletin.com

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