Galvanized steel sector gains economic strength

Mar 31, 2012 | 07:00 PM | Bill Beck

Tags  galvanized steel, North American galvanizers, appliance industry, Severstal, Sergei Kuznetsov, ThyssenKrupp, Galvstar,

North America’s galvanizing industry, which was hammered by the Great Recession of 2008-09, is showing signs of recovery, with new lines coming on stream and production estimated to reach 14 million to 15 million tons this year. That’s still well below the 18 million tons reported in the pre-recession year of 2006, but well above the 9 million tons produced in 2009 at the bottom of the recession.

“It is definitely starting to pick up,” said Gary Dallin, director of the GalvInfo Center in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park near Durham. The center, operated by the International Zinc Association, is sponsored by major producers and service centers.

Dallin said there are a number of “new lines under construction. That whole process started about four or five years ago, but much of that new activity went into hiatus because of the recession.”

Galvanized sheet’s biggest North American market is the automotive sector, which accounts for about 40 percent of consumption. “Automotive fell right off the table in 2008,” Dallin said, which explains much of the galvanized sheet industry’s weakness during the recession. But with North American vehicle sales recovering strongly in 2010 and 2011, galvanized producers have reason for optimism. North American vehicle sales reached an annualized rate of 14 million units in the first quarter of 2012, up from 13 million in the same period last year. “We would expect that the shape of the automotive vehicle sales curve will be pretty similar to the galvanized production figures,” Dallin said.....

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