EghtesadOnline: Iranian steel mills produced 16.23 million tons of steel since the beginning of January up to the end of September, up nearly 30% compared with the nine-month period of 2016, according to the latest report of World Steel Association.
The report also shows Iran’s crude steel output in September surged by 40.4% year-on-year to reach 2.3 million tons.
For both the nine-month and the September record, this is Iran’s fastest growth this year and the highest growth among all producers of more than 1 million tons per month, as Iran beat its regional rival, Turkey and also long-time European rival France.
Considering all producers regardless of output, Iran is ranked 10th and fifth in terms of fastest nine-month and September YOY growth respectively, Financial Tribune reported.
The September upsurge helped Iran improve its global production during the seven months under review by two places for the country to become the world’s 12th largest producer of steel, just placed between Taiwan (11th) with 17.41 million tons and Ukraine (13th) with 16.13 million tons.
Iran produced 14.291 million tons of direct-reduced iron during the nine months, up 19.7% YOY, to remain the world’s largest producer of DRI. The September output was up 38.8% to 2.05 million tons.
DRI, also called sponge iron, is produced from the direct reduction of iron ore to iron by a reducing gas made from natural gas or coal. It is most commonly made into steel using electric arc furnaces. About 70-75% of Iranian mills use EAFs.
The world’s 66 steelmakers produced 1.26 billion tons of crude steel during the nine months, up 5.6% YOY.
Global crude steel output stood at 141.43 million tons in September, indicating a 5.6% increase YOY.
The 66 WSA members accounted for approximately 99% of the world’s total crude steel production in 2016.
The crude steel capacity utilization ratio of the 66 countries in September 2017 was 73.5%. This is 2.8% higher than September 2016. Compared to August 2017, it is 0.6% points higher.
China’s steel production hit 71.82 million tons in September, registering a 5.3% increase YOY. The giant steelmaker has been growing in output every month, but it has now dropped about 3 million tons compared to its August output.
China remained the world’s largest producer in the nine-month period with 638.73 million tons of steel output. It was followed by Japan with 78.26 million tons, India with 75.29 million tons, the United States with 61.45 million tons, South Korea with 52.81 million tons, Russia with 54.2 million tons, Germany with 32.87 million tons, Turkey with 27.74 million tons, Brazil with 25.46 million tons and Italy with 17.77 million tons.
Iran’s crude steel output stood at 17.89 million tons in 2016, according to WSA. The country aims to become the world’s sixth largest steel producer as per the so-called ‘20-Year National Vision Plan’, which targets annual production of 55 million tons of crude steel and 20-25 million tons of exports per year by 2025. Iranian steel mills have so far realized more than 60% of the capacity target.
The main challenges to the target’s realization is lack of balance in Iran’s steel production chain, and underdeveloped transportation sector, workforce overabundance, declining economies of scale, and the deep divide between demand and output, according to a report by Iron & Steel Society of Iran.
Data by ISS show that there is a sizable imbalance between the nominal capacities of different links of steel production chain, and an even greater disparity in output. The steel industry might be sprinting to the 55-million ton target, but it will need to bring different sectors up to speed before it can achieve the goal.