NEW ORLEANS Global
stainless steel production grew 5.2 percent to 35.4 million
tonnes in 2012, although output in regions outside China
declined due to destocking, according to the International
Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF).
Stainless steel production of
2.37 million tonnes in the Americas was 4.7 percent lower than
in 2011, preliminary figures from the ISSF showed. While
production in the second and third quarters of 2012 showed
year-on-year growth of 2.5 and 9.1 percent, respectively, the
first and fourth quarters yielded year-on-year drops of 22 and
Chinese output jumped 14.2
percent to 16.1 million tonnes last year, although production
in the rest of Asia was down 0.6 percent to 8.7 million tonnes.
Japanese production fell 2.5 percent to 3.2 million tonnes,
while Taiwanese production was down 7.8 percent. The only Asian
countries to record growth in 2012 were South Korea, which
notched a 0.5-percent uptick, and India, which logged
Asian stainless steel producers
now account for 70 percent of global production, the ISSF
Western Europe and Africa
produced 7.8 million tonnes of stainless steel last year, down
0.7 percent from 2011.
The ISSF said that
chromium-manganese (200-series) grades "have grown in
importance" over the past few years, while the market share of
chromium (400-series) grades also has increased.
"When you are a distributor and
the price goes down, you buy at the last minute to sell the
next day. This is pushing everyone to reduce stock and buy
last-minute in order to avoid depreciation of stock, which has
been hurting everyone in our industry for the past two years,"
Aperam SA chief executive officer and newly elected ISSF
chairman Phillippe Darmayan said.
"The service industry is in a
difficult position because of a lack of growth and
overcapacity, because the capacity that has been
builtparticularly in Asiahas been built in
anticipation of growth much higher than what the reality has
been," he said. "Im very confident that the need for
stainless steel will one day allow all these capacities to be
filled, but so far its a difficult moment to pass and
there will obviously be some need for capacity adjustment and
The ISSF estimated that
chromium-nickel alloys (300-series) accounted for 54.1 percent
of the stainless market last year, followed by 400-series
material (a 24.8-percent market share) and 200-series material