The current local iron ore supply is sufficient to produce only 0.2 million metric ton steel a year. This means that at full capacity, PSM must import at least 1.5 million metric ton of iron ore, which amounts to import burden of approximately $0.2 billion annually (at FY11 price.
The PSM also imports coal for coking that needs superior quality coal and is therefore this component is not substitutable locally. At full capacity, the PSM requires 0.85 million metric tone of coal per year (US$ 0.1 billion at FY11 prices). In short, in order to break even, the PSM must have sufficient funds to be able to run at efficient
capacity. Otherwise, producing at low capacity will only lead to snowballing losses.
PSM is the only truly integrated mill, but even its capacity is believed to be deficient scale economies. Over the past half decade, some consolidation took place between the
private furnaces and re-rolling factories, which improved energy efficiency to some extent. Nevertheless, the capacity of even the largest private mills still remains below 0.5 million metric ton.
After PSM, there has been only one truly large-scale investment in Pakistan’s steel industry: a 1.5 million MT steel complex of Tuwairqi Steel Mill (TSM). Once operational, TSM will reduce the country’s dependence on imported raw material to a great extent by supplying raw material to the rolling industry. Secondly, it will utilize indigenous
iron ore to a greater extent. The mill is expected to come online this year in August.
The TSM was initially planned to start functioning in 2010, but commissioning was repeatedly delayed due to uncertainty over utility supplies. Specifically, the TSM will be a natural gas-based facility, a resource which is already in short supply.
TSM will be energy efficient – for example, to produce the same quantity of steel, it will consume lesser quantity of natural gas. While other industries can use alternate fuels, TSM will be using natural gas a feedstock, which is not substitutable
PSM has been victims of mismanagement, financial irregularities and corruption besides, the insufficient investment; and loopholes in the tax system. If these issues will be addressed properly with professionally sound leadership and investment on capital, the steel industry can play its due role in economy.
On the other hand, the imports of finished goods can drop to as low as 0.1 million metric tone a year with full capacity utilization of production units. In dollar terms, the net saving could exceed $1 billion per year, the State Bank of Pakistan estimated.