Secret of stainless steel market’s growth revealed

Stainless steel production reached record levels last year, new figures have revealed.

A high of 35.4 million metric tonnes (Mt) was produced in 2012, representing growth of 5% on the previous 12 months, according to data published by the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF).

However, the organisation the increase in production was solely down to China, with other regions of the world showing negative growth, mainly due to de-stocking.

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Stainless steel production in Asia (excluding China) decreased by 0.6% to 8.7 Mt in 2012. Japanese production reduced by 2.5% to 3.2 Mt, 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.

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%.

The ISSF said that 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, while more recently the share of chromium (Cr) grades has also increased.

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