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‘New phase’ emerging for steel markets

Global – Despite the ‘continued turbulence’ around the world in 2014, it was another record year for the steel industry, according to the World Steel Association (WSA). ‘Crude steel production totalled 1665 million tonnes, an increase of 1% compared to 2013,’ says its director general Dr Edwin Basson in the 2015 edition of ‘World Steel in Figures’.

Worldwide, ferrous scrap imports totalled 94.3 million tonnes last year compared to 95 million tonnes in 2013, with 4.2 million tonnes entering the USA as against 3.9 million tonnes in the previous year while Asian imports fell from 33 million tonnes to 29.6 million tonnes. In terms of ferrous scrap exports, 92.8 million tonnes was traded in 2014 compared to 94.6 million tonnes the year before, according to the WSA figures.

The top steel-producing companies last year were ArcelorMittal with 98.9 million tonnes and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation with 49.3 million tonnes. China remained the leading steel producer in 2014, generating 822.7 million tonnes. Making up the top five were: Japan with 110.7 million tonnes; the USA with 88.2 million tonnes; India with 86.5 million tonnes; and South Korea with 71.5 million tonnes.

Last year marked the emergence of a new phase in steel markets, it is claimed.

‘The evidence is that the steel industry is now entering a period of pause before undoubtedly picking up again when markets other than China, whose events have dominated the steel industry for the past decade, drive new demand,’ notes Basson. ‘Nobody can predict exactly when or where but we believe that urbanisation in emerging economies will play a key role for the steel markets in the future.’

Basson estimates that more than 1 billion people will move to towns and cities between now and 2030. This ‘major flow’ will create substantial new demand for steel to be used in infrastructure developments relating to water, energy and mass transit systems, as well as major construction and housing programmes.

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