The issue of overcapacity in the Chinese domestic steel market is going to ease in December, according to the Chinese Steel Logistics Professional Committee. Although domestic demand is expected to weaken as construction slows and winter approaches, CSLPC predicts that mills are going to adjust production levels downwards.
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Steel is one of the symbols of modern industrial civilization. The Eiffel Tower in Paris represents the strides made by human beings to harness the potential of iron and steel for rapid development.
Steel is considered as the most important industrial raw material in construction and engineering industries. Global production of steel is 20 times higher than that of all non-ferrous metals put together.
Following are some of steels according to manufacturing process :
Dirty steel is steel with inclusion of iron oxide from scrap used in the converter or of aluminum oxide from the aluminum used in deoxidizing. The melting point of steel varies with carbon, but is always higher than that of cast iron with the same amount of combined carbon.
Open hearth steel is made by fusing cast iron with steel scrap or wrought iron in a regenerative furnace. Cementation consists of heating bars of wrought iron in contact with carbon. This is called blister steel as surface is covered with Blisters. Blister steel has a crystalline fracture decreasing toward the center of the bar where there is less carbon.
Shear steel is produced from this blister steel by cutting and piling together, heating to a high temperature and rolling or hammering into bars.
Bessemer steel is made by carburizing cast iron by forcing a powerful blast of air through molten iron.
Crucible steel is made by melting wrought iron in a crucible with charcoal and ferromanganese or special steel mixes in a crucible furnace. The slag separates by gravity from the molten steel in the crucibles and the oxides combine with carbon and manganese or aluminum and boil off. The crucible process permits a high degree of control and reduces sulphur and phosphorus.
Electric steel is made in either the induction of arc type furnace and is of uniform quality and of a higher strength and ductility than open-hearth steel of the same carbon content.
Global steel industry is passing through a buoyant phase of output and demand for the fifth year in succession. Global crude steel production rose 8% to 1.2 billion ton in 2006 compared with previous year. In 2007 also the growth was likely to sustain but on a moderate scale by 75 million ton to 1.32 billion tons. China, US and Japan are the leading producers and consumers of steel in the world.
India is the eighth largest crude steel producer in the world and accounts for more than 3 percent of the total global output. In 2005-06 (Apr-Mar), India’s total steel output is estimated to be around 42.63 million tons.
The Indian government’s National Steel Policy targets an average 7 percent growth in steel output, which would take the country’s production capacity to more than 100 million tons by 2020.
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Steel market is broadly divided into flat and long. As the categorization suggests, flat represents a hot or cold plate product with varying dimensions of 100 mm to 200 mm as well as 1 mm to 10 mm. Long products are bars or rods of varying sizes.
Demand for steel has accelerated globally in 2006 reversing weak trend in prices during 2005 caused mainly by de-stocking of inventories. A firm trend is expected to stay in global steel prices in 2007 due to demand from China, India and other developing nations. The price of steel is also determined by input costs such as coal price, power tariff, transportation etc.
The following is a speech delivered by Philippe Varin - CEO of Corus Group and Chairman of the World Steel Association Climate Change Policy Group - at the 2008 annual conference of the World Steel Association in Washington DC. A lot of information on steel, its climatic impacts and production scenario is in the speech.
Reproduced here for information:
"Climate change is one of the most important challenges in the world today. How do we reconcile the need to lift a growing population out of poverty against the need to limit the further build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere? Scientists have identified a limit on greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere, at 450ppm, which could restrict the average temperature rise to 3 degrees Celsius. An increase in temperature above this level could lead to irreversible damages to the planet. To reach this goal of sustainable development, the current political consensus is for a reduction of 50% of man made emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 compared to 1990.
But also, sustainable development in the world in the 21st Century will require a significant increase in the volume of steel used and produced worldwide. The sheer size of our industry and the fact that steel is used in every aspect of the modern world, places a major responsibility on us to be part of the solution to the challenge the world faces. Today, the world steel industry accounts for between 4% and 5% of total man-made greenhouse gases. We produce more than 1.3 billion tonnes of steel. The average CO2 intensity for the industry is 1.9 tonnes of per CO2 tonne of steel produced. Our industry therefore produces over 2 billion tonnes of CO2.
In 2050, even with an aggressive increase in the ratio of scrap collection, from 83% today to 90% and also with an aggressive assumption about the transfer of best practices in our industry, we face a huge challenge if we are to meet political expectations whilst continuing to grow.
As an industry we are decided to rise to this challenge and it is my task this morning to outline to you the global steel industry’s sector approach. There are four major building blocks to this approach, the cornerstone of which is the engagement of all the major steel producers around the world.
* First, we are working with our customers to produce even more CO2 efficient applications of steel and promoting recycling.
* Second, we are promoting best practice transfer around the world.
* Third, we are engaged in major research and development of breakthrough technology.
* And finally, we are committed to measure and benchmark the CO2 intensity of our plants with a common methodology.
Each of these four elements involves important commitments and actions by steel companies. Each of these elements also requires decisive action from the political bodies.
There are indeed important implications for governments in choosing the appropriate policies to support each element of our approach. Only a global effort will have any chance of impacting the problem we face. Steel is a unique global and energy intensive commodity and maintaining a level playing field is key. Over 40% of all steel is traded. Indirectly steel makes up a major component of many of the manufacturing goods traded in the world, such as ships, transportation, machinery etc.
Even today over half the steel in the world is produced in developing countries and the share of these countries will increase significantly in the future. And we know that developing countries will not accept an absolute cap on their level of greenhouse gas emissions. They cannot do so: their legitimate desire to raise the living standards of their population inevitably means there will be growth in their economies leading to higher demand for steel.
Therefore, we have based our approach on a common indicator for the production footprint of our industry, to which all steelmakers and all steel producing countries can relate; this is the carbon dioxide intensity or emissions of carbon dioxide for every ton of steel produced. We believe on the basis of this common indicator that it is possible to positively engage all the major steelmakers and political bodies around the world.
The steel industry's global sectoral approach
The first building block in our global sectoral approach, and perhaps most important of all, is the contribution that steel can make for a more energy-efficient world.
Steel is not a single product; there are thousands of grades of steel and many new grades are developed each year. For example in passenger cars, the applications of these new grades will lead to stronger, lighter, safer structures.
As an example, using Advanced High-Strength Steel, about 2.2 tonnes less greenhouse gas is produced over the life cycle of a typical five-door family car. This more than offsets the production footprint of the steel used. With 70 million passenger vehicles being produced annually this would save more than 150 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents.
The new steels can also enhance the development of carbon neutral buildings. Electrical steels can greatly improve the efficiency of electrical motors in reducing their energy consumption per unit of output.
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Today typical modern wind turbine towers of 70 metres weigh only 140 tonnes. This represents a 50% reduction in weight from using standard steel and a saving of more than 200 tonnes of CO2 for each tower compared to 10 years ago. So steel can be a winner in a lot of applications, but we, as an industry, must present the CO2 and energy efficiency of our products in a much more convincing way.
Governments must support the contribution of our products by setting the appropriate regulations and standards, be it building regulations that promote carbon-neutral housing or rules for more efficient vehicles. Because, these initiatives have the lowest cost of abatement of CO2, much lower than developing breakthrough technologies for steel production.
Steel as we all know can be infinitely recycled, allowing the creation of new products out of old products without any loss of strength, formability, or any other important measure of performance. Worldwide recycling rates currently reach an average of 83% but we want to target 90% and more. We will work with governments, local authorities, customers and the scrap recycling industry to achieve this. The good news is that the ferrous scrap market is driven by market forces not by subsidies
In a nutshell, to conclude on this first building block, our products will contribute to a more energy efficient world.
Best practice around the world through technology transfer
The second building block is our programme to promote best practice around the world through technology transfer. The steel industry is again perhaps unique in its high degree of exchange and transparency in its technology. Most of the state-of-the-art steel plants operate close to what is achievable with current technology all over the world. It is not an issue of developing countries and industrialised countries. Some of the most modern and efficient steel plants can be found in the developing world. There is also a vibrant and independent plant and equipment manufacturing sector which can build the latest technology anywhere.
However it is clear from the differences in performance between the best and the worst in our industry today that there is considerable scope for improving the average performance of the industry if we can encourage every steelmaker to move towards the performance of the best. We will intensify this process and facilitate progress as quickly as possible. By giving each steelmaker his position relating to the world’s best. By supporting initiatives like the Asia Pacific Partnership Programme, involving Australia, Japan, Korea, China, India, the US, and Canada, which has identified 100 technologies that can be made available.
However, we are conscious that there are some hurdles: the willingness to supply these technologies, the intellectual property rights, the risk that incentives could be subsidies. And because every steel plant is unique due to economic circumstances and availability of raw materials, different solutions will be found in different parts of the world. The biggest challenge is to allocate enough resources to identify the gap that needs filling in any plant.
India, China lead the world of Base Metals!
Our companies, our regional associations should urgently look at how to unlock this situation. Here again, we believe there is a key role for government to help. CDM or other financial incentives have a potential role but it is critical to ensure that these incentives do not lead to subsidies.
The third building block is on breakthrough technologies. We have no chance of returning carbon dioxide levels to where the scientists say these should be by 2050 unless we can identify, develop and introduce radical new ways of making steel.
Existing projects are underway in Europe under the ULCOS programme that are funded jointly by the European steel industry and the European Union. Among the main projects in the programme there is the re-design of blast furnaces to optimise the production of carbon dioxide combined with carbon capture and storage. The ULCOS programme is also looking at new smelting technologies and even the long-term potential of electrolysis for the production of steel. Many of these ideas are dependent on the availability of a carbon-free source of energy.
Some of these ideas could imply radical reduction of emissions of 50% or even more. Parallel programmes in Japan, funded by the Japanese Government with major participation from the steel industry, are looking at the potential of hydrogen as a reducing agent to produce steel. Programmes in the United States funded by the Department of Energy and the United States steel industry are at an earlier stage but have exciting potential. There are also programmes underway in Korea and in Australia.
The World Steel Association Breakthrough Technology Committee’s role is to coordinate these programmes internationally to ensure a good exchange of ideas and information, and that we are not all working on the same ideas whilst neglecting others. We will also launch a new initiative directed at Universities around the world to bring forward new ideas which have not yet been considered. The result is an impressive global effort to address the issue in a fundamental way. It is important to recognise that none of these technologies will have an impact in the next 10 to 20 years.
There is also no guarantee of success, it is only after several more years and spending several 100 millions of dollars, that we will know whether there is a strong technical and economic case for pursuing alternative routes. So for this building block it is very important that the steel industry re-doubles its own research efforts. Again we need strong support from Governments in the funding of this. It is unrealistic to expect steel companies alone to fund such projects where the benefits are likely to be only seen in the medium to long-term and where they are already impacted by the new regulations on CO2 emissions. The proceeds of the CO2 taxes should be recycled for finding long-term R&D projects.
Commitment to monitor carbon intensity
The fourth building block is the commitment by the steel industry to monitor its carbon intensity and doing so, reducing CO2 emissions for every tonne of steel produced. When the World Steel Association Board of Directors agreed on our climate change policy last year, it was agreed that the important first-step was for every steel company in the world to collect data on its level of emissions on a common basis. Without the knowledge of where each company is today, it is impossible for it to identify future actions to improve performance. worldsteel set up a task force of experts whose work led to the agreement on a methodology of how we would record this data.
We have in place an agreed framework, a set of definitions, and agreement on the boundaries and the scope which will be used by every steel plant. Our methodology distinguishes between the blast furnace/basic oxygen steelmaking route and the electric arc furnace route and also other technologies. We distinguish between direct emissions at the steel plant and indirect or “scope two” emissions associated with the use of power taken from national grids.
The data collection programme is now well underway. Over 56 of our member companies have provided data to-date representing more than 178 sites. This accounts for 32% of global steel production and 60% of worldsteel member steel production. Our target is to achieve 75% of member steel production by the end of the year.
Once the data is collected and verified there will be reporting on a national or regional basis by the steel industry all around the world. Overtime we will show real progress by the industry in reducing our carbon dioxide intensity. This process will also enable steel companies and national and regional associations to establish targets for future commitments to reduce CO2 intensity.
The World Steel Association will hold individual plant data completely confidential and we will be establishing a detailed database to help our members know where they are in relation to the average and benchmark either in their region or the world. Every steel company and steel producing country is at a different starting point. I would like to stress that our approach is voluntary in nature but, our vision is that overtime there will be a convergence towards best-practice and this will have a material impact on our global emissions.
I would like to take this opportunity to urge all members who have not yet submitted their data to do so after the conference. Achievement of this will allow reporting and the setting of commitments to move into active discussion between our members and governments over the course of next year leading up to the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen in December 2009.
These are the four building blocks which add up to a positive and powerful sectoral approach for our industry. This is a pragmatic approach and not a hypothetical “one size fits all” agreement. Our past experience in the industry is that we have tried and failed to reach such global agreements on matters such as trade or subsidies. The principle of common but differentiated responsibility makes a single agreement for the steel industry also an unrealistic objective. We believe it is in the spirit of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that there should be a set of parallel agreements between steel companies, national steel associations and their respective national or regional governments which set out commitments on improvements on CO2 intensity for the future. By putting in place, through our sectoral approach, a parallel set of actions and commitments by all the major steel producers, there is a strong case for governments to ensure their own policies do not prejudice this common effort or distort the international market for steel.
We are showing strong industry commitment to the reduction of CO2 emissions. We are working with our customers to design more energy efficient solutions. We are developing technology transfer. We are investing in breakthrough technology for tomorrow. We implement a common reporting for our emissions. At the same time we are asking Governments to work with us to support the execution of these commitments. This dialogue will be on the agenda of each member and such regional association in the weeks to come. Our industry will be part of the solution, but we have a long way to go."