Raw material shortage hits PS production

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KARACHI: Production capacity of Pakistan Steel plunged to four to six per cent from 8-9pc prior to Eidul Azha, owing to severe shortage of raw material.

However, market is abuzz with reports that almost all the 20 production units (small to large scale) have shut down.

Sources said oven battery plant, which makes coke from coal, has been shut since Sept 24 while blast furnace plants, thermal power plants, coke oven plant, hot and cold rolled plants, billet casting, galvanised steel plants had been inactive.

When contacted, a PS official said steel-making plant and iron making departments are still functional, but at 4-5pc capacity. Haji Khan Lashari, President, Pakistan Steel Labour Union, said that the mills is running at 6pc capacity.

“We could not celebrate Eid as management released only Rs10,000 to each employee from our outstanding salary of August,” he added.

Voice of Pakistan Steel Officers Association President Mirza Maqsood said that the mills was running at only 5pc capacity which cannot be termed satisfactory.

He said that the management had procured 500 tonnes of coal a week back which was highly insufficient.

The mills is looking forward to get 5,000 tonnes of imported coal after Eid to boost production capacity to 10-12pc, but it seems that it not materialise.

Maqsood said that the government should fulfill its commitment by releasing Rs700m in October and another Rs700m in November, making a total release of Rs1.4bn out of total Rs2.9 billion package.

The PSM has already received Rs1.5bnfrom the bail out package in which Rs800 million was consumed in paying employees salaries for June and July while Rs700m was utilised in procuring raw material and paying some utility bills.

Around 16,200 workers and staffers are awaiting their August and September salaries while October is also coming to an end.

These officials and workers said that the mills had imported and local iron ore, but mainly ran out of coal.

According to these leaders, National Industrial Relation Court on Monday announced that Pakistan Steel CBA Referendum would be held on Nov 4.

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