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WSA: World Steel Production Down 10.6 Percent in March

Written by Tim Triplett

World crude steel production, not counting China, declined by 10.6 percent in March versus the same month last year, reported the World Steel Association, showing early signs of the effect of the coronavirus.

Steel production in the United States declined by 6 percent in March, to 7.2 million metric tons, as mills announced furnace idlings and production curtailments in an attempt to match supply with the sinking demand.

Including China, global steel production totaled 147.1 million metric tons in March, a 6.0 percent decrease compared to the same period in 2019.

“Due to the ongoing difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, many of this month’s figures are estimates from national and regional associations, which may be revised with next month’s production update,” noted WSA.

Looking at first-quarter 2020, world steel production totaled 443.0 million metric tons, down 1.4 percent versus the first three months of 2019. Asia, the largest steel-producing region, produced 315.2 million tons, a slight decrease of just 0.3 percent, as China’s first-quarter production increased by 1.2 percent.

North America’s crude steel production in the first three months of 2020 totaled 29.5 million tons, a decrease of 4.0 percent. Production in the U.S. dipped by 1.0 percent, while Canadian output declined by 5.4 percent.

Looking back at last year by steelmaking method, global BOF production worldwide increased by 4.7 percent, to nearly 1.34 billion tons, versus the prior year. Not counting China, however, BOF production declined by 1.7 percent. China, the world’s largest steel producer, is still predominantly reliant on integrated steelmaking technology.

Electric arc furnace steel production worldwide totaled 506.2 million tons in 2019, down 0.9 percent from the prior year. Minimills in the United States produced 61.4 million tons, an increase of 4.3 percent, however, by WSA estimates.

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