Global crude steel production rises by 16.5% in May

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Global crude steel production in May rose by 16.5% compared with May 2020, the World Steel Association reported this week.

However, the gain marked a drop from the 23.4% year-over-year surge in April. In addition, as Stuart Burns noted yesterday, May output fell by 0.4% compared with April.

Production jumped to 174.4 million metric tons in May.

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China’s steel production surges

Steel production

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Top steel producer China churned out 99.5 million tons of crude steel in May.

China’s steel production continues to rise, despite production curbing efforts in the steelmaking hub of Tangshan.

However, earlier this month, Reuters reported the city of Tangshan might ease production restrictions.

In other steel-related news out of China, the country has filed a WTO complaint against Australia.

“China on Thursday lodged a dispute case under the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement mechanism over Australia’s anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures against some Chinese imports, the country’s commerce ministry said,” state-run news agency Xinhua said today.

“The dispute involves Australian trade measures imposed or extended on imports of railway wheels, wind towers and stainless steel sinks from China in 2019 and 2020, the ministry said.

“China opposes abusing trade measures as it not only harms the legitimate rights of Chinese companies but also undermines the solemnity and authority of WTO rules, said Gao Feng, a spokesperson with the ministry.”

In that vein, earlier this week, MetalMiner contributor Sohrab Darabshaw outlined the growing trade tensions between China and Australia. China imports a majority of its iron ore, a key steelmaking ingredient, from Australia.

“There is no alternative to Australian iron ore where China is concerned,” Darabshaw explained. “China accounts for over 70% of global iron ore trade. Furthermore, two-thirds of its imports currently come from Australia.

“Trade figures show that in the first five months of 2021, 69.3% of total Chinese iron ore imports came from Australia. Following Australia, Brazil occupied the No. 2 spot at 17.7% of total imports.”

Steel production gains elsewhere

Steel production in India, the second-largest producer, rose by 46.9% year over year in May to 9.2 million tons.

Meanwhile, Japan’s production increased by 42.2% year over year to 8.4 million tons.

Furthermore, U.S. production gained by 47.6% year over year to 7.2 million tons. Earlier this week, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported U.S. steel capacity utilization reached 82.9% last week. Capacity utilization for the year to date reached 78.7%, up from 67.8% through the same point in 2020.

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