The Asian market includes three of the ten largest producers in the world – China (1), Japan (2), and India (4) – all of which increased their raw steel output last year. South Korea, the world’s sixth largest steelmaking nation, decreased output 4.4%.

Global Steel Output Rises, and Shifts, in 2013

Jan. 23, 2014
1.6 billion metric tons December uptick Asian growth trend Germany flat, France and Spain up Capacity trending downward

Global raw steel production rose 3.5% to 1,607,000,000 metric tons in 2013, a new high in total production, according to new data released by the World Steel Association. The results showed that Asian steelmakers were largely responsible for the increase, in particular those in China, Japan, and India. Steelmakers in North America, Europe, and elsewhere decreased their production volumes from 2012 (though, the trade group stated without detail that output also increased in the Middle Eastern region.) 

The Brussels-based World Steel Assn. maintains raw-steel production and capacity utilization data from its members in 65 nations, which it reports on a monthly basis. Raw (or “crude”) steel is the primary output of electric arc furnaces and basic oxygen furnaces, prior to metallurgical refining and casting into semi-finished products, such as slabs, blooms, or billets. The report includes data on carbon and carbon alloy steel output; stainless steels and other specialty alloy steels are not included.

For the month of December, global raw steel production rose 1.4% from November and 6.3% from December 2012, to 129,200 million metric tons. 

China has dominated global steel production for more than a decade, though its rate of steelmaking expansion has narrowed in the past two years.

The annual totals are highlighted by a 6.0% regional increase in Asian steel production, which increased that region’s global market share from 65.7% in 2012 to 67.3% in 2013.

Asian output is dominated by China, which continues to outpace all other nations in steelmaking. Chinese producers’ reported 779.0 million metric tons of steel output in 2013, a 7.5% increase over 2012. The world’s largest steelmakers increased its global market share from 46.7% in 2012 to 48.5% in 2013.

Japan produced 110.6 million metric tons in 2013, up 3.1% from 2012,

South Korea produced 66.0 million metric tons, a 4.4% decrease from 2012.

Europe, U.S. Show Restraint

Across the E.U., steel output decreased 1.8% from 2012, with total regional production of 165.6 million metric tons of raw steel for 2013. German producers contributed 42.6 million metric tons of raw steel to the total for 2013, essentially even with the 2012 result. Italy produced 24.1 million metric tons in 2013, decreasing 11.7% from 2012.

French steelmakers produced 15.7 million metric tons in 2013, an increase of 0.5% over the previous year.  In Spain, production increased 0.7% to 13.7 million metric tons in 2013.

In 2013, North American raw steel production decreased 1.9% to 119.3 million metric tons. Of this, total U.S. steel production declined 2.0% from 2012 to a total of 87.0 million metric tons, or 95.9 million short tons, which is the domestic industry’s more conventional reporting method.

In the Commonwealth of Independent States, total raw steel output fell 1.8% in 2013, to 108.9 million metric tons. Russia produced 69.4 million metric tons of raw steel, down 1.5% from 2012. Ukraine produced 0.5% less than in 2012, 32.8 million metric tons.

In South America, regional steel output fell 0.8% overall to 46.0 million metric tons. Brazilian steelmakers produced 34.2 million metric tons in 2013, 1.0% less than in 2012.

The World Steel Assn. reported that global steel capacity utilization averaged 78.1% in 2013, up from 76.2% in 2012. However, the utilization rate declined progressively in the final quarter of 2013, ending the year at 74.2% for December.

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