India’s three-week lockdown ripples through metal sector

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The fallout from India’s decision to lock down the country for three weeks to curb the spread of coronavirus is reverberating through the country’s metals industry, with some producers curtailing operations and others continuing with reduced manpower.

Hindalco Industries Ltd., the biggest copper producer and second-largest aluminum maker, said on Wednesday it is shutting or scaling down its operations in line with government directives. National Aluminium Co. will remain operational, but with fewer workers, according to a company official.

Meanwhile, steel mills across the country continue to run. The government exempted continuous process operations from the lockdown, which starts Wednesday, provided they get a certificate from the district magistrate.

“Shutting and restarting a blast furnace takes time and is a costly affair. So, many players do not want to shut them and that is what had happened in China recently,” said Jayanta Roy, senior vice president at ICRA Ltd. “Demand is going to take a huge knock in the next three weeks and inventories will rise if supply curtailments do not happen.”

Here’s how some Indian metal companies are being affected by the pandemic:

  • Hindalco – Aluminum, copper – Some operations have been shut or scaled down. The company’s U.S. unit Novelis has also shuttered some plants due to temporary closures by automakers.
  • National Aluminum Co. – Aluminum – Company’s plants are operational but with reduced manpower. Offices have been shut.
  • Jindal Steel & Power Ltd. – Steel – Plants are operational, with the situation being monitored closely, according to a company official. Movement of some raw materials may be impacted.

(By Swansy Afonso)

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