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World Steel0421chart 800

Global Steel Output Growing Slowly

May 23, 2021
Raw steel output is showing significant year-over-year gains as 2021 progresses, tonnages much higher than the pandemic-tainted results of last year, but the monthly are more reflective of current industrial and construction demand.

Global steel production rose to 169.5 million metric tons during April, slightly more than the reported total for March but +6.4% higher than the global tonnage for April 2020 – a period during which most of the world’s major steel-producing countries were observing industrial closures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. The exception has been China, where steel production has continued without the shutdowns or reduced capacities implemented in North America, Europe, and elsewhere during 2020.

Last month the World Steel Assn. forecast that total 2021 steel demand will rise 5.8% over 2020, to 1.87 billion metric tons.

The latest results show considerable year-over-year increases in steel output and raises the year-to-date result for global steel production to 662.8 million metric tons, +13.7% higher than last year’s January-April total. The current tonnages, however, are more indicative of global demand.

All the data is provided by the World Steel Assn., which tracks raw-steel output in 64 countries, accounting for about 98% of the world’s steel production.

The World Steel report covers the global output of "raw” carbon steel, the product of basic-oxygen or electric arc furnaces and cast into semi-finished forms like billets for bar and rod products; slabs for flat products; or blooms, for beam and pipe products. Specialty and stainless steel are accounted separately.

The April data shows China, the world’s largest steelmaking nation, producing 97.9 million metric tons – roughly 58.0% of the total global output. The current figure is +13.4% higher than the April 2020 total, and brings China’s year-to-date steel production total to 374.6 million metric tons, +15.8% higher than last year’s four-month total.

India, the world’s second-largest steelmaking nation, produced 8.3 million metric tons of raw steel during April, a 152.1% increase over the comparable total for April 2020. The current year-to-date output in India is 38.2 million metric tons, which is 26.9% higher than last year’s January-April total.

Japan, now the third-largest steelmaking nation, had a reported April output of 7.8 million metric tons, 18.9% higher than the April 2020 tonnage, and bringing the Japanese year-to-date total to 31.5 million metric tons, +2.7% higher than last year’s four-month total.

U.S. steelmakers produced 6.9 million metric tons (7.6 short tons) of raw steel during April, 200,000 tons (220,462 short tons), or -.2.9% less than their reported output for March, but 43.0% higher than their April 2020 total tonnage. For the year-to-date, U.S. steelmakers have produced 27.3 million metric tons (30.1 million short tons), which is 2.8% higher than the January-April 2020 output.

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