Steel Production Up in October, Capacity Utilization Down

Nov. 23, 2014
After three months of decline, global steel output regains some progress Year-to-date total now even China growth slowing U.S. results break even
The 3Q slow-down in raw steel production appeared to even out during October, with total production rising slightly even as major producing nation’s like China maintaining their reduced rates.

The World Steel Association reported raw-steel production totaled 136.7 million metric tons during October, up 2% from September, and essentially even with the total for October 2013. The monthly rebound follows three consecutive months of declining output, as well as a new short-term output for slower consumption of steel products.

The year-to-date total for steel production rose to 1.36 billion metric tons following the October results, 2.0% more than the 1.34 billion recorded for January-October 2013.

Also, raw-steel capacity utilization in October was 74/7% for the 65 countries represented by World Steel 1.4% less than during September, and 2.6% lower than the October 2013 capacity utilization rate.

The Brussels-based World Steel Assn. tracks raw (or crude) steel tonnage and capacity utilization among its member companies. Raw steel is the product of electric arc furnaces and basic oxygen furnaces, prior to metallurgical refining and casting into semi-finished products, such as slabs, blooms, or billets. World Steel’s results include data for carbon and carbon alloy steel output. Stainless steels and other specialty alloy steels are not included.

China remains by far the largest steelmaking nation, routinely producing roughly half of all the output. In October, China’s steelmakers produced 67.5 million metric tons of steel, a decrease of just 0.04% from September, and down 0.3% compared to October 2013. The nation has produced 685.3 million metric tons through the first 10 months of this year, 2.1% more than during the comparable period of last year.

In Japan, October raw-steel production rose 1% over September’s output, to 9.4 million tons. It was a decrease of 0.5% compared to October 2013. Japanese year-to-date production is now at 92.5 million metric tons, 0.6% higher than during the January-October 2013 period.

South Korean raw steel production rose 8% in October to 6.2 million metric tons, which also represented an increase of 4.5% on October 2013. The year-to-date total for South Korean raw steel production is 59.5 million metric tons, 8.9% higher than last year’s 10-month total.

Some Stability in Russia, Ukraine 

Steelmakers in the European Union increased their raw steel output by 1.5% in October, with Germany, the largest steelmaking nation in the region, producing 3.5 million metric tons for a 1% increase over the previous month, but a 5.6% decline compared to October 2013.  The year-to-date total German steel output is 1.6% higher than the 10-month total for 2013.

Italy is the region’s second-leading producer, and October’s 2.1 million metric tons fell 3% behind September, and 5.4% behind last October’s total. The January-October 2014 total for Italy is 20.4 million metric tons, 1.5% more than was reported for the same period of 2013.

Steelmaking appears to have stabilized in Russia and Ukraine, two of the world’s largest steel-producing nations engaged in conflict that has disrupted output for much of this year. Russian steelmakers produced 5.8 million metric tons in October, 3% more than in September and 1.6% more than in October 2013. The nation’s year-to-date total through October is 59.0 million metric tons, 2.5% more than Russian steelmakers produced over 10 months of 2013.

Ukraine steelmakers produced 1.87 million metric tons during October, 3% more than during September, and 28.7% less than during October 2013. The January-October total for Ukraine is 23.4 million metric tons, and remains 15.2% behind the 2013 pace.

North American steelmaking increased in October, but barely, rising just 0.3% over the September total. U.S. steelmakers’ October output was 7.3 million metric tons, virtually unchanged from September and 0.7% less than October 2013’s output. The 10-month total output for U.S. steelmakers is 73.7 million metric tons, 1.4% more than last year’s January-October total.

Brazilian steelmakers produced 3.1 million metric tons during October, 6% more than during September and 2.7% more than during October 2013. The year-to-date total for Brazil is now 28.6 million metric tons, a decline of 0.7% from the 2013 10-month total.

About the Author

Robert Brooks | Content Director

Robert Brooks has been a business-to-business reporter, writer, editor, and columnist for more than 20 years, specializing in the primary metal and basic manufacturing industries. His work has covered a wide range of topics, including process technology, resource development, material selection, product design, workforce development, and industrial market strategies, among others. Currently, he specializes in subjects related to metal component and product design, development, and manufacturing — including castings, forgings, machined parts, and fabrications.

Brooks is a graduate of Kenyon College (B.A. English, Political Science) and Emory University (M.A. English.)