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Global Steel Tonnage Still Declining

Sept. 26, 2021
Total raw-steel output fell -3.0% from July to 154.8 million metric tons worldwide in August – the fourth consecutive month-to-month decrease, paced by similar cuts in Chinese steel production volumes.

Global steel production fell for the fourth consecutive month in August, down -3.0% from July to 154.8 million metric tons. The new figure also represents a -1.4% year-over-year decline from August 2020, which is notable inasmuch as many steel-consuming industries continued to endure pandemic-related inactivity into 2Q and 3Q of 2020.

Even so, the current figures raise the global year-to-date volume of raw-steel produced to 1.32 billion metric tons – a figure that is 10.6% higher than last year’s January-August tonnage.

The tonnages reported by the World Steel Assn. for 64 countries represent about 98% of global raw-steel output – meaning carbon steel, produced in 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 falling output is more pronounced because of the decrease in output by the Chinese steel industry, -4.1% from July to 83.2 million metric tons in August. China’s monthly raw-steel tonnage typically represents more than 60% of the world’s total output. Now, while its August total -13.2% lower than the August 2020 result and is the second consecutive monthly decrease and brings that nation’s YTD steel tonnage to 733.0 million metric tons – a 5.3% rise over January-August 2020 total.

India, the world’s second-largest steel-producing nation, had August output of  9.9 million metric tons, 1.0% higher than the July total and 8.2% above the August 2020 result. Through the first eight months of the current year, Indian steelmakers have produced 77.7 million metric tons of raw steel, 25.6% more than during January-August 2020.

Japan’s steelmakers produced 7.9 million metric tons during August, down -1.2% from July and up 22.9% from August 2020. For the current year’s eight-month total, Japanese steelmakers have produced 57.1 million metric tons of raw steel, 19.5% more than last year’s comparable total.

The United States steel industry ranks fourth in the world, and its 7.5 million metric tons (8.3 million short tons) produced during August indicates no change from the July total – but a +26.8% rise over last August’s result. During January-August 2021, U.S. steelmakers have produced 57.1 million metric tons  (62.9 million short tons) of raw steel, 19.5% more than during the first eight months of 2020.

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