As huge as it is, steel consumption in China is just beginning to grow

Aug 01, 2010 | 05:11 AM | Kevin Foster

SINGAPORE Among all the figures in the World Steel Association's latest yearbook, one in particular stood out 405 kilograms. That's China's per-capita steel usage—around 890 pounds—and it's interesting because it illustrates both the extent of the country's economic growth and how much further that process has to run.

Unsurprisingly, China was the only major steel-consuming nation to see an increase (24 percent) in steel consumption in 2009 vs. the previous year. U.S. finished steel usage slumped 42.1 percent to 187 kg (412 pounds) from 323 kg (712 pounds), and similar declines were seen in most other nations that reported figures to Brussels-based WorldSteel.

The reasons for those big drops, and China's big rise, aren't hard to fathom as factories, construction sites and automakers turned off the lights throughout the developed world, those industries were ramping up capacity in China, thanks in part to a half-trillion-dollar stimulus package focused on infrastructure spending.....

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