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Global steel production outlook seen positive
June, 03rd 2008

The world steel industry outlook is promising with production seen rising to 1.5 billion tonnes in 2009, up from 1.4 billion tonnes in 2008, a Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) conference heard on Monday.

"The future outlook for the worldwide steel industry is very good," said Christian Rubach of German waste management firm Interseroh Hansa Recycling. Demand is also seen growing with apparent steel use expected to total 1.282 billion tonnes this year, up 6.7 percent from 2007, according to data from the International Iron and Steel Institute (IISI).

Rubach, who is also President of the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) Ferrous Division, said Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) were leading growth with an expected increase of 11.1 per cent for 2008 and 10.3 percent for 2009. "China's apparent steel use is expected to grow by over 10 percent in 2008 and by 10 percent in 2009," Rubach said, adding China accounted for 35 percent of the world total this year.

In the European Union a total of 210 million tonnes of steel were produced in 2007, up 1.6 percent from the previous year, said the Ferrous Division's Vice President Anton van Genuchten. "World steel production capacity is seen increasing by nearly 19 percent between 2007 and 2010," van Genuchten said, citing data from the OECD. He said that the only factor that could stop demand for steel and therefore scrap, used to supply some 40 percent of world's total crude steel production, was the consumer.

"The market is taking a breather at the moment after the price jumped in April and May," he said. But demand was seen firm and there was little scrap available so prices could go even higher in the second half of 2008, after nearly doubling since the start of this year.

Turkey is the main buyer of European steel scrap, and EU exports to Turkey increased by 22.6 percent to 5.9 million tonnes in 2007 from the previous year.

On the import front, the major supplier of scrap into the EU is Russia delivering a total of 1.7 million tonnes of steel scrap in 2007. This figure was down by nearly 50 percent year-on-year, van Genuchten said.

"The reduction is a result of the Russian scrap staying at home to feed their new electric arc furnaces (EAF)," he said. EAF is a production process whereby scrap steel is used as feedstock instead of iron ore.

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