NEW YORK Growth in global crude steel production slowed dramatically in 2012 as output in the North American and Asian markets slackened and output in faltering European Union countries fell more rapidly in 2012 than in the previous year.
The 62 countries reporting to the World Steel Association (WorldSteel) produced just 1.2 percent more steel in 2012 than in 2011, increasing global output to 1.52 billion tonnes compared with 1.5 billion tonnes in 2011. Global steel output had increased 6.8 percent in 2011 vs. 2010.
North American steel production rose just 2.5 percent in 2012 compared with 6.6 percent growth a year earlier, with U.S. production climbing 2.5 percent to 88.6 million tonnes last year.
Global steel output would have declined in 2012 without Chinese growth of 3.1 percent to 716.5 million tonnes. India also increased production by 4.3 percent year on year to 76.7 million tonnes last year. But Chinese and Indian markets grew much faster in 2011, at a rate of 8.8 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively.
The sharpest regional declines were in the European Union, where output fell 4.7 percent to 169.4 million tonnes in 2012. The decline was due to sharp drops in Spain and Italy, where production fell 12.1 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively. Germany, considered one of the most stable steel producers in the region, saw production fall 3.7 percent to 42.7 million tonnes amid growing economic concerns.
The Africa/Middle East region registered growth of 2.2 percent to 34.5 million tonnes last year, with a politically calmer Egypt seeing a 2.2-percent uptick to 6.6 million tonnes and Iran growing 9.6 percent to 14.5 million tonnes.
For December, global steel output totaled 121.3 million tonnes, up 2.4 percent from 118.4 million tonnes in the same month in 2011.