Source: S&P Global Platts
World crude steel production in June was up 5.8% year on year to 151.4 million mt, data from the World Steel Association showed Thursday. Output during the first six months of 2018 totaled 881.4 million mt, up 4.6% compared to the same period in 2017.
In line with the uptrend in steelmaking, capacity utilization in June increased to 78.5%, the highest level since April 2013 when it was at 80%. The June level was 3.8 percentage points higher than June 2017. Compared to May 2018, it is 1.0 percentage point higher.
China, the world's largest producing country, contributed 80.2 million mt to the total in June, up 7.5% year on year. The increase comes as no surprise, with the country's daily crude steel output setting a new record high in June, at 2.7 million mt/day, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. In the first six months of the year its output increased by 6% to 451 million mt.
With other large Asian producers also seeing output increases, the region's H1 total amounted to 613.9 million mt, a 5.2% year-on-year increase.
India is once again threatening to overtake Japan's spot as the world's second largest producer, with only 150,000 mt separating the two during H1.
India's June output increased 7.4% to reach 8.7 million mt, while its H1 total came to 52.8 million mt, up 5.1%. Similar production figures were seen in Japan, with its June total increasing 4.2% to 8.8 million mt, while its H1 total amounted to 53 million mt, up 5.1%.
The EU produced 87.3 million mt of crude steel in the first half of 2018, up by 1.6% compared to the same period of 2017. While France saw a 4.4% decline in production in June, positive changes were seen in Germany (4.6%), Spain (3.4%), Italy (1.5%) and the UK (11.6%).
European mills are expecting to be busy in the near future, after the European Commission's recently imposed tariff-rate quota safeguard measure.
The measure is expected to see European buyers turning to the domestic market, in fear of breaching the import quota and having to pay a 25% import tariff.
Turkey's crude steel production for June was 3.0 million, up by 0.7% on June 2017, while its H1 output increased by 3.7% year on year to 18.9 million mt.
North America was the only region to see a year-on-year decline in June, down 0.9% to 59 million mt. The US produced 6.8 million mt, an increase of 0.8%. This was offset by declines in Canada (down 12.1%) and Mexico (down 0.8%). North America's crude steel production in the first six months of 2018 was 59 million mt, an increase of 2.4% year on year.
The CIS produced 50 million mt of crude steel in the first six months of 2018, an increase of 2.8% year on year, following increases in Russia (2.8%) and Ukraine (1.5%) during the period.
Middle Eastern production figures were largely boosted by a substantial increase of 25.8% in Iranian production during H1 to 12.5 million mt. Iran launched a steel plan in 2014 to boost annual steel production capacity to 55 million mt/year within 10 years. Iran's crude steel nominal capacity is currently about 32 million mt/year, while practical production in the last Iranian year (ended March 20) was estimated at 22 million mt/year.