David Tadevosian | Dreamstime
World Steel Sept2021chart

Global Steel Volume Falls Again

Oct. 31, 2021
Chinese steelmakers are cutting their tonnages even as producers in other countries recover their pre-pandemic output rates – and the result is the fifth consecutive monthly decline in global raw-steel production.

Global steel production fell by -10.4 million metric tons to 144.4 million metric tons during September, down -7.2% from August and down -8.8% from September 2020, primarily due to the ongoing decrease in Chinese steel output. It was the fifth straight monthly decline in global output for the world’s steelmakers, who apart from the Chinese producers are recovering their normal rates of activity following the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Notwithstanding the slow-down, the 2021 nine-month total for global steel output is now 1.46 billion metric tons, a 7.8% rise over January-September 2020.

The production data is reported by the World Steel Assn., which tracks raw-steel output for 64 countries representing about 98% of global steel production – 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.

Earlier in October, World Steel issued an updated near-term outlook for global steel demand, reducing the current-year forecast by 200 million metric tons to 1.85 billion metric tons; and cutting its 2022 forecast by 500 million metric tons to 1.89 billion metric tons, both figures anticipating further retraction in Chinese steel output.

China, far and away the world’s largest steelmaking nation, had September 2021 output of 73.8 million metric tons, down 9.4 million metric tons or -12.7% from August and -21.2% from September 2020. For the current year-to-date, Chinese steelmakers have produced 805.9 million metric tons, still 2.0% higher than the comparable nine-month total for 2020.

India, the world’s second-largest steel-producing nation, reported September production of 9.5 million metric tons, 400,000 metric tons or -4.2% less than during August and yet 7.2% higher than the September 2020 total. The YTD tonnage total for India’s steel industry is 87.3 million metric tons, a 23.3% improvement over last year’s nine-month total.

In Japan, steelmakers produced 8.1 million metric tons during September, which is 200,000 metric tons or 2.4% more than during August and 25.6% more than during September 2020. The nation’s year-to-date output through September is 72.1 million metric tons, a rise of 17.9% over 2020.

The U.S. steel industry is the fourth largest in the world and produced 7.3 million metric tons (8.05 million short tons) during September, which is 200,000 metric tons (220,462 short tons) or -2.7% less than their August output, and still 22.0% higher than last year’s September total. For the January-September period, U.S. producers’ output stands at 64.4 million metric tons (70.98 million short tons), which is 19.8% ahead of the comparable 2020 result.

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