Worldwide raw steel production rose to 134,883 million metric tons during March, up 8.7% from 124,034 million metric tons during February, and up 1.0% from the March 2012 result. The latest figure reported by the World Steel Association represents raw steel output by 63 steelmaking countries, and brings year-to-date global production to 388,696 million metric tons, an improvement of 2.3% over the three-month total for 2012.
“Raw” or crude steel describes the 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 Brussels-based World Steel Assn.’s monthly report totals the global carbon and carbon alloy steel output; Stainless steels and other specialty alloy steels are not included.
Steelmaking in Asia accounts for much of the recent increase. China, by far the world’s largest steelmaking nation, saw raw steel production for March at 66.3 million metric tons, an increase of 6.6% over March 2012. Japan produced 9.4 million metric tons of raw steel during March 2013, increasing by 1.3% versus March 2012.
However, South Korea’s March raw steel production totaled 5.7 million metric tons, declining by -7.0% compared to March 2012.
During the first quarter of 2013, Asian raw steel production rose 6.4%, year-on-year, to 259.8 million metric tons.
North American raw steel production during January-March 2013 was 29.7 million metric tons, a decrease of -5.7% compared to the first quarter of 2012. That result is almost entirely the result of U.S. steelmaking activity: domestic producers reported 7.3 million metric tons of raw steel output during March 2013, up 9.6% from the February output of 6,655 million metric tons, but a decline of -8.4% from the March 2012 result.
Setbacks in EU, Russia, Brazil
In the EU, German steelmakers produced 3.8 million metric tons of raw steel last month, -2.2% less than during March 2012. Italy’s raw steel production totaled 2.2 million metric tons, off the year-earlier pace by -18.4%.
Spain’s producers had an output of 1.3 million metric tons of raw steel, -2.3% less than during March 2012, and in France the latest result of 1.3 million metric tons of raw steel production was a decrease of -9.6% versus March 2012.
Steelmakers in the U.K. produced 1.02 million metric tons last month, an remarkable 53.4% improvement over the March 2012 total.
Turkish raw steel production for March 2013 was 3.0 million metric tons, off the Mach 2012 rate by -4.6%.
Russia’s producers poured 6 million metric tons of raw steel during March, dropping -2.8% from the March 2012 output. In the Ukraine, raw steel production for March was 2.9 million metric tons, a decline of -2.8% versus the March 2012 output.
In Brazil, steelmakers produced 2.9 million metric tons of raw steel during March, -7.6% less than the comparable 2012 figure.
While global raw steel production rose from February to March, the capacity utilization ratio for 63 countries declined from 80.5% to 79.4% during that period. The current utilization rate is also -2.1% lower in the latest figure than during March 2012.