David Tadevosian | Dreamstime
Continuous-cast steel billets at torch cutting.

World’s Steel Output Remains Flat

May 28, 2023
Global raw steel production fell by 3.7 million metric tons last month, but the scale of the industry and the particular role of one country in the world market means that result is negligible.

Global raw steel production fell by 3.7 million metric tons from March to April, -2.3% to a total of 161.4 million metric tons, the first month-to-month decrease for 2023. There was a similar decrease (-2.4%) from April 2022 to April 2023. Regardless, the big picture shows the year-to-date total roughly equal to the four-month output total for 2022. Year-to-date raw-steel output for January-April is now 622.7 million metric tons, or +0.1% above last year’s comparable total. As usual, global raw-steel output – as reported each month by the World Steel Association – shows the dominance (57.4% of total output) of the Chinese steel industry in shaping the overall trend.

World Steel’s monthly summary covers steel production in 63 countries representing 97.0% of global steel capacity. The report covers 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.)

Steel output typically trails industrial and construction demand within individual or regional markets, and that demand is forecast to be weak in the current short-term outlook. However, Chinese steel production had increased month-to-month this year until the -3.3% drop (down by 3.1 million metric tons) from March to April. China’s April total of 92.6 million metric tons is also -1.5% below the April 2022 figure, and it brings the YTD total for China to 354.4 million metric tons, still +4.1% higher than the January-April total for last year.

Raw-steel output also declined in India during April, down -6.5% from March to 10.7 million metric tons. India has been an outlier among the world’s large steelmaking nations, increasing its tonnages in contrast to global trends. India’s current total is still +3.2% higher than last April’s result, and it brings the year-to-date total for India to 43.9 million metric tons, a +3.0% improvement.

Japanese raw-steel output fell -4.2% from March to April, to 7.2 million metric tons. That total is -3.1% lower than last April’s figure, and it brings 2023’s four-month total for Japan to 28.9 million, a -5.3% year-to-date drop.

U.S. steelmakers produced 6.6 million metric tons (7.3 million short tons) during April, -1.5% less than during March and -5.3% less than in April 2022. For the year to-date, the U.S. steel industry has produced 25.1 million metric tons (27.7 million short tons), -4.1% less than during the first four months of 2022.

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