SÃO PAULO Usinas Siderúrgicas de Minas Gerais SA (Usiminas) sold 1.59 million tonnes of steel in the first quarter, up 5.2 percent year on year, the Brazilian steelmaker said.
The increase was led by a 37.2-percent increase in steel product exports to 365,000 tonnes from 266,000 tonnes. However, sales to the domestic market fell 1.6 percent to 1.22 million tonnes from 1.24 million tonnes in the same comparison.
"In terms of price increases, we came ahead of our competitors and this led us to lose sales volume in the (Brazilian) distribution sector in the first quarter," Usiminas vice president Sérgio Leite said during an April 26 earnings call.
Leite estimated that the difference between domestic and import prices in Brazil is now between 5 and 10 percent for flat-rolled products, "but closer to the low range."
Meanwhile, the companys Mineração Usiminas mining arm by year-end expects to decide on an iron ore output expansion that would lift capacity to 29 million tonnes per year.
The project, which was to be completed in two stages, was initially scheduled to come into operation in 2015.
Usiminas said last year that the plan was being re-evaluated and would be submitted to shareholders for approval in the first quarter of 2013.
The first stage would lift the projects capacity to 12 million tonnes annually from the current 8 million tonnes, which director Wilfred Bruijn confirmed during the call is scheduled to come on-stream in the second half of 2013.
The second stage, which is pending shareholder approval, would then lift output to 29 million tonnes per year.
Mineração Usiminas sold 1.34 million tonnes of iron ore in the first quarter, down 22.5 percent year on year. This was mainly due to an 85-percent drop in domestic market sales to 48,000 tonnes from 322,000 tonnes.
Iron ore output totaled 1.65 million tonnes for the quarter, down 10.8 percent from 1.85 million tonnes a year earlier.
A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Steel First.