David Tadevosian | Dreamstime
Steel billets, torch cutting at the run-out stage of continuous casting.

Chinese Steelmaking Lifting Global Output

March 27, 2023
Steelmakers around the world produced 142.4 million metric tons during February, though the results were off the pace in most of the the top producer nations – except for the largest of all.

Steelmakers in 63 countries combined to produce 142.4 million metric tons of raw steel during February 2023, an estimated -8.3% drop from the January total but just -1.0% lower than the total for February 2022. The difference in the number of calendar days commonly accounts for a decrease in overall output from January to February. The two-month total for 2023 steel output is 297.8 million metric tons – which is nearly even (-0.8%) with the comparable figure for 2022.

However, with the majority of the largest steelmaking nations reporting lower output versus their February 2022 totals, the reasonably positive picture for the month and the year-to-date may be attributed to rebounding production in China.

The data is supplied by the World Steel Assn.’s monthly summary for raw-steel output, a report that tracks output for about 97.0% of the world’s steel production capacity. The summary presents 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 not included in the report.

Most of the world’s top steel producing nations decreased their year-over-year output for February, with the important exception of China, the largest steelmaking nation. Chinese steel output frequently totals more than half of the total global production volume. According to World Steel, the estimated February total for China’s steel production is 80.1 million metric tons, which is 5.6% higher than China’s February 2022 tonnage.

The new report also places China’s year-to-date raw-steel output at 168.7 million metric tons, meaning Chinese steelmakers are 5.6% ahead of their 2022 pace.

Indian steelmakers produced 10.0 million metric tons during February, -9.0% less than the figure reported for January, and -1.0% less than the February 2022 total. India’s YTD raw-steel output is 21.3 million metric tons, 1.0% above the two-month total for 2022.

The Japanese steel industry produced 6.9 million metric tons during February, -4.3% lower than January’s production total, and down -5.3% below Japan’s February 2022 total. Through two months of 2023 production, Japan’s industry has produced 14.1 million metric tons of raw steel, -6.1% less than last year’s January-February 2022 output.

The U.S. steel industry produced 6.0 million metric tons ( million short tons) during February, -8.3% less than during January and -5.3% lower than the February 2022 result. For the January-February period, U.S. raw-steel production totaled 12.6 million metric tons, -5.6% less than during January-February 2022.

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