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EghtesadOnline: Mobarakeh Steel Company’s new continuous casting machine was inaugurated by First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri and the company’s managing director, Bahram Sobhani, last week in Isfahan Province.

The new production line adds 1.8 million tons to MSC’s annual steel production capacity.

Continuous casting, also called strand casting, is the process whereby molten metal is solidified into a semi-finished billet, bloom or slab for subsequent rolling in the finishing mills. It allows low-cost production of metal sections with high quality, due to the inherently low costs of continuous, standardized production of a product, as well as providing in-depth control over the process through automation.

“Mobarakeh Steel Company’s continuous casting machine No. 5 was built in 28 months with 5 trillion rials ($143.4 million at the market exchange rate) of investment,” Sobhani was quoted by Bourse Press as saying.

“The addition of the new casting machine brings MSC’s total annual steel production capacity to 10.3 million tons by the end of the current fiscal year (March 20, 2017), taking into account the expansion plans for the steel giant’s subsidiaries, including Hormozgan Steel Company and Saba Steel Complex.”

Together with its subsidiaries, MSC is the largest flat steel producer in the Middle East and North Africa region and Iran’s largest steelmaker, accounting for 1% of Iran’s GDP. The company accounts for approximately 50% of the country’s total steel output and also holds around the same share in domestic flat steel consumption, which stood at around 7.5 million tons in the last fiscal year.

The company produced around 5.5 million tons of flat products, with 70% of this volume allocated for the local market over the year.

According to Sobhani, MSC and its subsidiaries produced over 3.6 million tons of crude steel and 2.8 million tons of steel products during the first half of the current fiscal year. The company also exported 1.07 million tons of steel and steel products during the same period, according to Financial Tribune.

In the meantime, Iranian auto production indicated a significant growth over the first seven months of the current fiscal year (March 20–October 22). The increase in output led to a rise in demand for flat steel.

Over the seven-month period, auto manufacturing increased by 30.9% to 753,580 units year-on-year, IRNA reported.

Market players expect the trend to continue, allowing automakers to meet a 1.35 million unit target by the yearend. The rise in auto production is mostly attributed to growing domestic sales, as exports declined.

The automakers are predicted to export 35,000 units by the end of the current year, while only 5,200 units or 15.2% were sold abroad during the period.

Domestic flat steel producers, especially MSC as the main manufacturer of the key commodity, benefited from the overall increase in auto output. The company has continuously experienced a decline in foreign market sales ever since the year’s second quarter, redirecting shipments to the domestic market.

Mobarakeh Steel Company Bahram Sobhani Iran Steel MSC Es’haq Jahangiri