Global steel production increased slightly to 140.7 million metric tons during December 2022, up 1.1% from the total reported for November but also closing out 2022 with the first annual decrease in raw-steel output since 2015. According to data published by the World Steel Association, raw-steel tonnage from 64 countries totaled 1.875 billion metric tons for the January-December period, which is -4.2% less than the 2021 total global tonnage.
In addition to the decrease in output, the reported annual total is higher than World Steel’s October forecast for 2022 global steel demand, 1.796 billion metric tons. The falling demand is the result of multiple global and regional factors, including rising interest rates worldwide, declining manufacturing and construction activity (notably in China), and the Russian invasion of Ukraine disrupting supplies of raw materials and energy, especially in Europe.World Steel’s monthly summary tracks the total of 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 for separately.
While the December output ticked up slightly from November, the monthly results showed declining or flattening totals through much of 2022, particularly in the second half of last year. In fact, the December total was -10.8% below the December 2021 figure.
The downward trend is most pronounced in China, the largest steelmaking nation, which reported 77.9 million metric tons produced in December 2022, 4.4% over the November figure but -9.8% less than December 2021. China’s full-year raw-steel output was 1.01 million metric tons, -2.1% less than its January-December 2021 total.
India, the world’s second-largest steelmaking nation, produce 10.6 million metric tons of raw steel during December, 1.9% more than November and 0.8% more than December 2021. The 12-month total of raw steel output for India was 124.7 million metric tons, a 5.5% rise in output for the one nation that has remained steadily on the positive side of the ledger for 2022 output.
Japanese steelmakers produced 6.9 million metric tons of raw steel during December, -4.3% less than November and -13.1% less than December 2021. The January-December output in Japan was 89.2 million metric tons, which is -7.4% less than the previous year’s total.
U.S. raw steel production for 2022 totaled 6.5 million metric tons (7.16 million short tons) during December, 1.5% above the November total but -8.3% less than the December 2021 total. For the full year, U.S. raw-steel output was 80.7 million metric tons (88.95 million short tons), -5.9% less than the January-December 2021 total.
The fifth-largest steelmaking nation is Russia, where December raw-steel output was estimated at 5.5 million metric tons, down -1.8% less from November and -11.3% less than the December 2021 total. The estimated 12-month total was 71.5 million metric tons, or -7.2% less than the comparable total for 2021.