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News

Another record year for stainless steel production but increase uneven

International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) : 18 May, 2013  (Special Report)
The International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) has released preliminary figures for 2012 which show that stainless steel production grew by 5.2% to reach a record high of 35.4 million metric tonnes (Mt). China accounted for the increase in production, with other regions of the world showing negative growth, mainly due to de-stocking.

Stainless steel production in Asia (excluding China) decreased by 0.6% to 8.7Mt in 2012. Japanese production reduced by 2.5% to 3.2Mt, while Taiwan, China lost 7.8% of its stainless steel production over the year. Few countries in Asia increased output, though Korea (+0.5%) and India (+5.3%) achieved positive growth during 2012.

Even during the recent years of reduced economic activity, China has been the principal growth area for stainless steel production. During 2012 it increased production by 14.2% to reach 16.1 Mt (based on corrected figures for 2011 and 2012). Together, Asian stainless steel producers now account for 70% of global production.

Table 1: Stainless crude steel production (in ‘000 metric tons)

Region Full Year +/- % 12 months Y-o-Y
2010 2011 (r) 2011 (r) 2012 (p)   +/- %
Western Europe/Africa 7,878 7,883 0.1 7,883 7,829 -0.7
Central and Eastern Europe 340 391 15.2 391 359 -8.2
The Americas 2,609 2,486 -4.7 2,486 2,368 -4.7
Asia (excluding China) 9,011 8,770 -2.7 8,770 8,720 -0.6
China (revised) 11,256 14,091 n/a 14,091 16,087 14.2
World total 31,094 33,621 n/a 33,621 35,363 5.2

China has issued corrections to its stainless steel production data for 2011 and 2012 – particularly for chromium-manganese (CrMn) stainless steels. Due to these changes, data for 2011 is not comparable with information from previous years. Data for 2012 shows that CrMn steels now account for a higher percentage of total production. This is mainly due to the data corrections which have been released by China.

Western Europe and Africa is the second largest stainless steel producing region despite lower production during 2012. Volume for the year reached 7.8 Mt, down 0.7% compared to 2011. Growth rates for individual countries in the region ranged from -13 to +8%.

Table 2: Stainless crude steel production (in ‘000 metric tons)

 

Region Quarter 1 +/- % Quarter 2 +/- % Quarter 3 +/- % Quarter 4 +/- %
2011 r 2012 p   Y-o-Y 2011 r 2012 p   Y-o-Y 2011 r 2012 p   Y-o-Y 2011 r 2012 p   Y-o-Y
Western Europe/Africa 2,218 2,211 -0.3 2,082 2,065 -0.9 1,684 1,756 4.2 1,899 1,798 -5.3
Central/Eastern Europe 89 87 -2.6 114 98 -14.1 104 90 -13.7 84 85 0.7
The Americas 779 607 -22 598 613 2.5 553 603 9.1 557 545 -2.2
Asia (excluding China) 2,238 2,226 -0.6 2,134 2,236 4.8 2,220 2,118 -4.6 2,177 2,140 -1.7
China (revised) 3,412 3,790 11.1 3,510 4,006 14.1 3,535 4,015 13.6 3,634 4,275 17.6
World total 8,736 8,922 2.1 8,438 9,017 6.9 8,097 8,582 6 8,351 8,843 5.9

Stainless production in the Americas was 4.7% lower than in 2011 with a total output of 2.4 Mt. In Central and Eastern Europe output dropped by an average 8.2%. Total production was, however, 0.4 Mt, which is almost negligible in global terms.

Over the past few years the stainless steel market has seen major changes in the mix of grades produced. Chromium-manganese (CrMn) grades have grown in importance. More recently the share of chromium (Cr) grades has also increased.

Table 3: Market share of stainless steel grade categories in 2012 (estimated and preliminary)

 

Region Quarter 1 Quarter 2 Quarter 3 Quarter 4 Full Year   2012
CrMn (200 series) 16.3 18.6 25.3 23.7 21.10%
CrNi (300 series) 58.3 55.7 50.7 51.9 54.10%
Cr (400 series) 25.4 25.7 23.9 24.4 24.80%
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