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Stainless steel production 2016 – strong growth which few managed to forecast

market insights

June 15, 2017

The stainless steel industry is one of the key industries for ferroalloy and metal demand. The most common type of stainless steel, referred to as 304, contains 18-20% chrome, 8-10% nickel and up to 2% manganese. In 2016, the industry saw strong production growth, the rise of India and continuing dominance of China.

45.8 Mt stainless steel produced in 2016 Global stainless steel production increased to an all-time-high of 45.8 million metric tons in 2016 (ISSF 2017). This corresponds to an increase of 10.2% over 2015 production! Few analysts predicted this strong growth. In February 2016, Jim Lennon from Macquarie, one of the leading nickel and stainless steel experts, forecasted a 2016 growth rate of only 2.9%. 2016 growth also comfortably beat the compound annual growth rate of stainless steel production since 1950 of 5.9%.

[caption id="attachment_2030" align="alignnone" width="960" class="middle"] Stainless melt shop production 2016 Stainless melt shop production 2016: Strong growth in general, China dominated and India overtook Japan (Source: ISSF Stainless Steel in Figures 2017).[/caption]

Chinese dominance continues China continued to produce more than half of the world’s crude stainless steel. The rate of growth in China was very strong last year. Output reached a total of more than 24.9 million metric tons. Following the commissioning of several new stainless steel plants, production capacity exceeded domestic consumption. Production slowed down in 2015, but last year, the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road policy were enforced firmly, which increased the need for stainless steel in China.

India overtaking Japan and moving to rank 3 India's stainless steel production rose to 3.3 million metric tons in 2016, showing an impressive growth of about 9% over 2015. This makes it third in the world ranking while the former number three country, Japan, had nearly no growth in the past year. The EU stays in second rank. India has come a long way since 1907 when the first iron and steel production plant has been established, called Tata Iron and Steel Company Ltd. Leading Indian stainless steel players include SAIL, Salem, Jindal Stainless, BRG, Sunflag Iron and Steel, Viraj Profiles, and Panchmahal Steel. The Indian government aimed at becoming the 2nd largest steel producing country in the world. Considering that the EU is not a single country, they have already achieved this goal.

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