World stainless steel crude steel production increased 3.8% in the first half of 2011 compared to the comparable year-ago period, according to preliminary figures recently released by the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF).
Six-Month Production — Total production for the first six months of 2011 was 16.4 million tonnes, a new all-time high. However, the increase in production was restricted to Chinaand the Central and Eastern Europe region, which offset losses in other major areas.
Excluding China, Asiareported the production of 4.4 million tonnes of stainless steel, a 3.1% decrease compared to the first six months of 2010. Individual Asian countries reported a mixed performance for the first half of the year, including increased production volumes for Korea and India but decreases for Japan and Taiwan. China reported the production of 6.2 million tonnes of stainless steel, a 13.5% increase compared to 5.5 million tonnes in the first six months of the previous year.
The Western Europe/Africa region reported the production of 4.3 million tonnes for the first six months of 2011, reflecting a slight (0.2%) decrease compared to the first half of 2010. Individual countries in the region showed mixed results, ranging from a 20% increase in production in one country, to a 9% decrease in another.
In The Americas region, stainless crude steel production was 1.4 million tonnes in the first half of the year, a 1.6% decrease compared to the comparable year-ago period. Production in the Central and Eastern Europe region showed an increase of 22%. However, the volume of stainless steel produced in the region — 0.2 million tonnes — remains minimal in comparison to the other regions.
Second Quarter Production — Analysis of production for the second quarter also shows mixed regional development for stainless steel production. All areas, excluding China and the Central & Eastern Europe region, showed lower production volumes in the second quarter when compared to the previous three months. On a quarter-on-quarter basis, Chinaincreased its stainless production by 1.7%; Asia showed a decline of 4.7%; Western Europe/Africa reported a 6.3% decrease in production; and The Americas reduced production significantly by 23.2%.
Despite the declines in most regions, the second-quarter 2011 global production volume of 8.05 million tonnes is the second-highest production level for a second quarter.
Grade split — The production split between the main stainless steel grades has seen a recovery in market share for chromium-nickel (CrNi) stainless steels. The market share of austenitic CrNi stainless has increased compared to the average for 2010 due to lower quotations for nickel, while the market share for chromium-manganese steels remained basically unchanged.
The International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) is a non-profit research organization, which serves as the world forum on various aspects of the international stainless steel industry. Founded in 1996, ISSF is based in Brussels, Belgium.