Steel prices could be “much higher” in the coming years compared with recent levels, the CEO of a major Indian steelmaker told CNBC last week.
In the last seven or eight years, the average price for hot-rolled coil steel was around $400 or $450 per metric ton, Tata Steel Chief Executive T.V. Narendran said on “Street Signs Asia” on Friday.
The long-term average over the coming years is likely to be more than $600, he predicted. Prices were $750 in China and $850 in Southeast Asia on Friday, he said.
“I expect it to be in that space and that range — fluctuating of course, but fluctuating at a higher level than we’ve seen in the past,” he said.
Narendran explained the steel market is going through several changes, including rising costs and China’s evolving role in the market.
“The last 10 years have been dominated by exports out of China. Now, there’s far more stability in world steel trade,” he said.
At its peak, China exported more steel than India produced, Narendran said. China’s steel exports have since halved to around 60 million tons a year, and could fall further as the country pursues its net-zero carbon emissions goals, he added.
And for “the first time in many years,” steel demand is not being driven by China, said Narendran. He noted the World Steel Association expects growth in steel consumption this year will come from countries other than China.
“With the Western world investing [in] infrastructure, that’s positive for demand as well,” he added.
Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden signed a more than $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law.
On the supply side, input costs are at “historic, high levels” because of coal prices. Iron ore prices, however, have weakened and should trade within the $100 to $120 a ton range in the long term, he said. Both coal and iron ore are raw materials used in steel production.
Steel prices may also be pushed up by the increasing carbon cost in Europe, he said.
“I expect to see steel prices at a much higher level than we’ve seen in the last 10 years, over the next 10 years,” Narendran said.