Steel Blog
Tim Triplett

Tim Triplett

Tim Triplett is the executive editor of Steel Market Update. Tim joined SMU after 20 years as editor-in-chief of Metal Center News Magazine. A journalist and business writer for 40 years, Tim holds an MBA from Aurora University. Tim can be reached at Tim@SteelMarketUpdate.com or by phone at 630-513-5916.

Global steel demand growth is expected to moderate in 2018, mainly due to slowing in China, but should maintain its momentum in the rest of the world, according to a generally optimistic short-range outlook from the World Steel Association (worldsteel).

The Brussels-based trade association, whose members account for 85 percent of the world's steel production, forecasts global steel demand to top 1.622 billion metric tons this year, growing to 1.648 billion tons in 2018.

Excluding China, global steel demand will reach 856.4 million tons, an increase of 2.6 percent this year, and 882.4 million tons, an increase of 3.0 percent in 2018, worldsteel estimates.



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U.S. Steel reportedly still plans to construct a new continuous galvanizing line (CGL) at its PRO-TEC Coatings Co. subsidiary in Leipsic, Ohio. In doubt is whether joint venture partner Kobe Steel will still be involved.

A U.S. Steel spokesperson told the Northwest Indiana Times on Friday that "U.S. Steel remains committed to our new Advanced High Strength Steel CGL.” Steel Market Update has reached out to U.S. Steel for comment.



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Thursday, 12 October 2017 12:22

Residuals Eroding Minimills’ Cost Advantage

What goes around comes around, as they say. In the case of the ferrous scrap market, what goes around and comes around again and again are residuals such as copper that complicate the steelmaking process and threaten to erode some of the competitive cost advantage now held by minimills.

Minimill steelmaking has transformed the steel industry in the past few decades and now accounts for nearly 70 percent of the steel made in the United States. Minimills use electric arc furnaces or EAFs to remelt ferrous scrap metal, including cars, trucks, appliances and other metal items recovered from the scrap stream. Integrated mills use basic oxygen furnaces or BOFs to make pure virgin steel from iron ore. The EAF steelmakers have a considerable cost advantage over the BOF mills, but the BOF process produces the highest quality steel. The minimills are continually working to improve the quality of their product with the goal of competing for high-end customers, notably the lucrative automotive industry. While the minimills have made significant inroads with makers of unexposed auto parts, the most demanding application requiring perfect surface quality—exposed auto body panels—remains elusive.



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Thursday, 12 October 2017 11:00

Zinc Prices Soar as Zinc Traders Bullish

Zinc prices continue their rally that began in early 2016, taking the metal’s price to a 10-year high and raising the cost of producing galvanized steel and other products. Zinc prices have managed to breach the psychological ceiling of $3,000 per metric ton, which stalled rallies in November 2016 and February 2017. Breaking this ceiling on heavy trading volume signals strength for zinc, reports MetalMiner.com.

Zinc prices have continued to increase this month, although the pace of the increases has slowed, said Lisa Reisman, executive editor of MetalMiner. The cash price for zinc on the LME as of Oct. 11 was $3,305 ($1.50 per pound). “Trading volumes still support the price uptrend. In other words, trading volumes remain strong, although we can expect some sideways movement or a pullback, as these price movements are common after sharp rallies.”



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Tight supplies of graphite electrodes used in the electric arc furnace steelmaking process have raised electrode prices to the point that at least two stainless steel mills have increased their surcharges.

Outokumpu was the first with a surcharge of 30 euros (about $35.50) per metric ton on Sept. 27 in most markets except the U.S. AK Steel followed with a $13.20 per short ton electrode surcharge effective with November shipments.



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Tuesday, 10 October 2017 14:44

SMU Market Trends Survey: Bearish Signs

Responses to several subjects in last week’s Steel Market Update flat rolled steel market trends questionnaire shared a common thread. Comments on demand, pricing, purchases of foreign steel and inventory levels all tended to reflect a bearish attitude among many flat rolled and steel plate service center executives.



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Monday, 09 October 2017 13:39

Steel 101: Not Just for the Uninitiated

No one who has ever toured a steel mill will ever forget it. The sight of the molten metal, and the heat that hits you in the face even from a safe distance away, is both frightening and fascinating.

Forty mostly young executives experienced steelmaking firsthand as students in Steel Market Update’s latest Steel 101 workshop last week in Fort Wayne, Ind. I was one of them. I have visited many steel mills and service centers in my 20 years of reporting on the metals industry, but as a new staffer with SMU this was my first experience with Steel 101. It was a great way to refresh my knowledge of steelmaking and steel marketing and to add a deeper depth to my understanding of the global steel trade. Thanks to Steel Dynamics and Paragon Steel for being such congenial hosts and allowing the group to tour their Butler, Ind., flat roll mill and service center.



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Tuesday, 10 October 2017 11:24

AK Adds Electrode Surcharge on Stainless

In response to the recent hike in the cost of graphite electrodes, AK Steel Holding Corp. will implement an electrode surcharge for all stainless product shipments effective Oct 29. The surcharge for November will be $13.20 per ton. The amount will be same for all stainless grades produced by the company. The monthly electrode surcharge amount will be listed in the company's monthly surcharge publication.

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Tuesday, 10 October 2017 16:49

Weekly Raw Steel Production Increases

U.S. raw steel production for the week ending Oct. 7 totaled 1,741,000 net tons, a 5.2 percent increase from the same period last year, and up 2.1 percent from the prior week. The mill capability utilization rate for the week averaged 74.7 percent, up from 73.2 percent the prior week and 70.8 percent the prior year, reports the American Iron and Steel Institute in Washington.

Adjusted year-to-date production through Oct. 7 totaled 69,545,000 net tons, up 3.7 percent from the same period last year. The average mill capability utilization rate for the year to date was 74.6 percent, up from 72.2 percent in 2016.



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Monday, 09 October 2017 11:54

AM/NS Suffers Minor Tornado Damage

ArcelorMittal reports that a portion of its mill in Calvert, Ala., suffered minor damage over the weekend due to a small, localized tornado related to Hurricane Nate. The company halted production on Friday night for safety reasons, but resumed operations Sunday afternoon.



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