T. Sinsrang | Dreamstime
Finished steel in a warehouse.

Global Steel Output Drops Again

March 27, 2022
Steel production worldwide is showing the effects of Chinese steelmakers reducing their tonnages – now -10% year over year – but the rest of the world is performing at or near normal levels.

Raw steel production fell to 142.7 million metric tons worldwide during February, a -9.8% decrease from the January output and a -5.7% year-over-year drop from February 2021. Through two months of production, global raw-steel output is 299.4 million metric tons, -5.5% less than last year’s comparable figure.

With fewer days of production activity, February results are often an outlier in global production statistics. Still, data reported by the World Steel Association continues to reflect the trend of consistently declining output by Chinese steel producers, who comprise half or more of all the steel output on a regular basis. The same statistics show steadily expanding steel output by steelmakers in India and the U.S., among other places.

World Steel 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 volumes are accounted separately.

In China during February, raw-steel production is estimated to have totaled 75.0 million metric tons, a decrease of -8.2% from the figure reported for January, and of -10.0% versus February 2021. This appears to be the continuing result of a managed decline in Chinese output, in line with that nation’s economic plan to avoid over-supply and to slow excessive expansion in industrial and construction sectors.

Compared to 2021 data, China’s year-to-date steel output is -10.0% lower.

India is the world’s second-largest steelmaking nation by volume, and its February output of 10.1 million metric tons shows a -6.4% decrease from January, and yet a 7.6% increase over the February 2021 total. Indian producers’ 2022 output is up to 20.9 million metric tons, 6.6% ahead of their 2021 rate at the comparable date.

In Japan, February raw-steel output totaled 7.3 million metric tons, -6.4% less than the January figure and -2.3% less than last year’s February total. Japan’s cumulative output for 2022 is 15.1 million metric tons, -2.2% lower than the 2021 figure.

U.S. raw-steel production during February was 6.4 million metric tons (7.05 million short tons), -12.3% below the January total but 1.4% higher than the comparable total for February 2021. With two months of output, the U.S. 2022 raw-steel production total is now 13.4 million metric tons (14.8 million short tons) – a 0.6% rise over last year’s January-February total.

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