Global raw steel production rose only a slightly from April to May according to the World Steel Association, which tracks output and capacity utilization in 67 countries. It reported total worldwide output of 143.3 million metric tons for the month, up 0.9% from the April result and 2.02% from the May 2016 total. With the latest totals, the 2017 year-to-date total for global raw-steel production is 694.9 million metric tons, which is 4.62% higher than 2016’s January-May total output.
The monthly figures reported by World Steel Assn. represent global production of raw (or crude) steel — the output of basic oxygen furnaces and electric arc furnaces that is cast into semi-finished products, such as slabs, blooms, or billets. World Steel reports tonnage and capacity utilization data for carbon and carbon alloy steel; data for production of stainless and specialty alloy steels are not included.
Also during May, global raw-steel capacity utilization declined to 71.8%, down 1.8% from April but 0.5% higher than the May 2016 rate.
The slow but steady rise in tons-produced has been continuing for several months, and yet World Steel maintains that the current recover will remain modest through 2018. That is the outlook it offered in a recent mid-range forecast of steel demand, citing the effects of political and industrial-market uncertainty in the major steelmaking regions, particularly in China.
China’s steel industry produces roughly half of the world’s raw-steel output, but after a decade or so of export-driven capacity expansion, it has embarked on a restructuring program meant to eliminate outdated capacity and refocus on serving domestic requirements.
In May, China produced 72.26 million metric tons of raw steel, 3.3% more than during April and 1.8% more than in May 2016. Through five months of this year, the Chinese industry has produced 346.8 million metric tons of raw steel, 4.2% ahead of its comparable 2016 production total.
Elsewhere in the Asian region, Japanese steelmakers produced 8.9 million metric tons of raw steel during May, up 3.35% from April and essentially even (+0.12%) with May 2016. Through five months, Japanese raw steel output stands at 43.9 million metric tons, up 1.5% versus 2016.
Indian steelmakers produced an estimated 8.5 million metric tons of raw steel during May, 2.25% more than during April and 6.4% more than during May 2016. India’s year-to-date raw steel output is 41.8 million metric tons, 7.4% more than last year’s five-month total tonnage.
In South Korea, May raw steel production rose 3.3% to an estimated 5.66 million metric tons. That represents a 2.7% decline versus last May’s tonnage total, and brings the nation’s YTD output to 28.4 million metric tons, 1.63% higher than the January-May 2016 total.
Across the 28 nations of the European Union, total raw-steel production during May was 14.76 million metric tons, 8.2% higher than during April and 2.0% higher than the May 2016 result. The regional year-to-date output total is 71.7 million metric tons, 4.1% more than the five-month result for 2016.
The largest steel-producing nation in the EU, Germany, recorded May tonnage at 3.8 million metric tons, 4.0% more than April but 1.4% less than last May’s tonnage. German steelmakers have produced 18.6 million metric tons, which is 2.34% more than the January-May 2016 total.
Italian steelmakers produced 2.1 million metric tons of raw steel during May, 3.86% more than the April output but 4.1% less than the May 2016 output. Italy’s year-to-date steel production total is 10.26 million metric tons, 1.54% more than the comparable total for 2016.
The French steel industry produce 1.4 million metric tons for May, 1.6% less than the April total but 21.5% more than the May 2016 tonnage. France’s year-to-date raw-steel production total is 6.59 million metric tons, 11.4% more than the January-May 2016 output.
Spanish steelmakers produced 1.2 million metric tons during May, a drop of 11.8% than during April and down 3.7% versus May 2016. The five-month total for Spanish steel production is 6.0 million metric tons, just slightly less (-0.83%) than the comparable 2016 total.
Beyond Europe, Turkish raw-steel production rose 7.0% in May to 3.3 million metric tons, which is 9.72% more than the May 2016 output. Turkish YTD raw-steel output is 15.1 million metric tons, up 11.5% versus the January-May 2016 output.
Russian steelmakers produced 5.9 million metric tons during May, 3.94% more than during April but 1.5% less than during May 2016. The five-month total raw-steel production in Russia is 29.8 million metric tons, up 2.0% versus the comparable total for 2016.
In neighboring Ukraine, May raw-steel production totaled 1.69 million metric tons, a rise of 5.26% from April but a 25.5% decrease compared to the May 2016 result. For the year-to-date, Ukraine steelmakers have produced 8.9 million metric tons of raw steel, which is 15.8% less last year’s five-month result.
Brazilian steelmakers produced 2.93 million metric tons of raw steel during May, 4.9% more than during April and 13.2% more than during May 2016. The current year-to-date output for Brazil is 14.07 million metric tons of raw steel, 14.2% more than the comparable total for 2016.
Finally, steelmakers in the U.S. produced 6.99 million metric tons (7.7 million short tons) during May, 4.23% more than during April but essentially even (+0.22%) with May 2016. For January-May 2017, U.S. raw-steel production totals 33.98 million metric tons (37.45 million short tons), 2.25% more than the comparable total for 2016.