As the seasons change, so do views on metals’ future

Aug 28, 2012 | 07:00 PM | AMM staff

Tags  automotive industry, agricultural industry, North American steel industry, ArcelorMittal, Michael Rippey, AK Steel Corp., James L. Wainscott, North American aluminum industry Alcoa

As summer saunters through the dog days and prepares to blend into the fall and the start of the fourth quarter, North American metals producers are still traversing a rocky, uncertain road to recovery despite some still-encouraging signs, according to industry executives.

While demand is strong from the automotive, energy and agricultural sectors, the steel industry continues to face challenges of overcapacity, price volatility and a lagging construction sector, they say. As a result, North American producers aren’t operating at optimal capacity utilization rates as supply and demand remain out of balance. Similar issues continue to simultaneously excite and concern aluminum producers.

“Clearly, we’re not operating at rates that are acceptable today,” ArcelorMittal USA Inc. president and chief executive officer Michael Rippey said at the Steel Success Strategies XXVII conference in New York co-sponsored by AMM and World Steel Dynamics Inc.

“The issue is not really demand—demand’s not great, but it’s not horrible,” James L. Wainscott, chairman, president and chief executive officer of AK Steel Corp., West Chester, Ohio, said at the conference. “The issue is really too much supply.”....

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