EghtesadOnline: Iranian steel mills produced 1.98 million tons of steel in the first month of 2018, up 25.9% compared to last year’s similar period, according to the latest report released by World Steel Association.
Iran’s steel sector ended January with the second highest production growth among all producers of more than 1 million tons of steel per month, overtaken only by Vietnam, with 38.8% to 1.06 million tons.
Considering all producers regardless of output, Iran had the eighth fastest year-on-year growth.
Iran jumped three spots in global ranking to become the world’s 10th largest producer of steel in January. The country is currently placed between Ukraine (ninth) with 2.1 million tons and Taiwan (11th) with 1.96 million tons, according to Financial Tribune.
The world’s 64 steelmakers produced 139.43 million tons of steel in January, up 0.8% YOY. Their crude steel capacity utilization ratio was 70% during the month. This is 0.2% lower than in January 2017. Compared to December 2017, it is 0.7% higher.
China remained the world’s largest producer during the month with 67 million tons of steel output, down 0.9% YOY.
Following China were Japan with 9.03 million tons, India with 9.02 million tons, the United States with 6.82 million tons, South Korea with 6.12 million tons, Russia with 5.7 million tons, Germany with 3.7 million tons, Turkey with 3.17 million tons, Brazil with 2.86 million tons and Italy with 2.18 million tons.
Crude steel is defined as steel in its first solid (or usable) form: ingots, semi-finished products (billets, blooms, slabs). This is not to be confused with liquid steel, which is steel poured.
Iran’s steel output stood at 21.72 million tons in 207, according to WSA, up 21.4% YOY. The country aims to become the world’s sixth largest steel producer as per the 20-year Vision Plan, which targets annual production capacity of 55 million tons of steel and 20-25 million tons of exports per year by 2025. Iranian steel mills have so far realized more than 30 million tons of the capacity target.
Latest statistics by Iranian Steel Producers Association show that the country exported 6.55 million tons of steel during the first 10 months of the current fiscal year (March 21-Jan. 20), posting a 48% YOY growth.
Semi-finished steel exports made up 5.36 million tons of the total figure, growing 89% YOY, while exports of finished steel products during the 10-month period shrank by 25% YOY to 1.18 million tons.
> Global DRI Output Driven by Iran Rise
Iran increased its direct-reduced iron output to 2.06 million tons in January 2018, up 53.3% YOY from 1.34 million tons last January.
Worldwide output of DRI increased 7.6% YOY in January, driven by higher production from Iran, according to World Steel Association, to 6.47 million tons in January, compared with 6.02 million tons in the previous year.
About 75% of Iran’s current 30-million-ton per year crude steel capacity are produced using DRI-consuming electric arc furnaces.
Accordingly, the country is expanding its DRI capacity to fuel the capacity growth.
Iran's exports of direct-reduced iron are also surging in the meantime, jumping 336% YOY to 567,000 tons during the first 10 months of the current fiscal year (March 21-Jan. 20). DRI production for the same period stood at 18.54 million tons, indicating a 23% rise YOY.
Deputy Minister of Industries, Mining and Trade Mehdi Karbasian expects DRI exports to reach 1 million tons by the yearend (March 20, 2018) as a result of new capacities established this year.
Iran’s main rival in DRI output, India, dropped 15.6% year-on-year in production to 2.15 million tons in the month of January, compared with 2.55 million tons a year before.
In 2017, higher imported scrap prices compared with local DRI costs led to many induction furnaces packing 75-80% of their steelmaking mix with DRI, leading to reduced demand for scrap as a feedstock, Metal Bulletin reported.
But the cost of using Indian domestic DRI has risen since the end of last year, triggered by strong Indian billet demand and prices.
Metal Bulletin’s price assessment for India domestic DRI rose to 20,800-21,100 rupees ($320-324) per ton ex-works on February 23, compared with 20,100-20,400 rupees per ton a week earlier.
A notable percentage rise was recorded in Libya where production increased by 2,825% YOY. But the volumes involved were small, rising to 79,164 tons in January 2018, compared with 2,706 tons a year ago.
Argentina's production rose by 82.70% year-on-year to 140,535 tons in January this year, compared with 76,921 tons in the same month of last year.
Production over the year fell in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and Venezuela.