March STI 2015
Welcome to the March 2015 edition of Steel Times International in which it is still just about acceptable to carry New Year Predictions features. This month, we've got one more for you and it's from USA-based Becky Hites who runs Steel-Insights, a company she founded in 2012. According to Becky 2015 will be a good year in terms of production, but there will be no pricing power, making it a poor year in terms of earnings.
Having now returned from the CRU World Steel Conference in Brazil, a key theme this month appears to be one of uncertainty and it's reflected in the headlines found in this month's issue. "A poor year for pricing power" sums up Becky's article, but let's look at some others: "Jindal Steel and Power in dire straits" is Dilip Jha's India Update headline, and my own China Update article screams "China – is Europe a soft touch?" Many think it is and, as I point out in my leader this month – a leader inspired by an 'appearance' I made on BBC radio discussing Chinese imports – some say it is beyond the EU to do anything about Chinese imports flooding into the country. Europe, it is argued, is a soft touch and the European machine is cumbersome and slow-movng. Whether hell will freeze over before the EU takes the Chinese to task is up for debate and I'm sure the industry will debate it in forums around the world throughout 2015.
The fact that I was being interviewed by the BBC was plenty to do with the fact that the UK steel industry had been voicing its concerns about the rising tide of Chinese steel flooding into the UK as a result of an increasingly buoyant construction industry. I'm used to hearing the Americans express their feelings on the subject, but to hear the UK industry joining the fray proved, perhaps, that the old British reserve was being replaced by a more aggressive stance as UK-based steelmakers join international cries for a level playing field.
The Chinese problem, of course, is a global one. Even on the other side of the world, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, there are mounting concerns for the Brazilian steel industry if the country becomes flooded with Chinese metal.
And getting back to that word 'uncertainty', it features in the headline for this month's USA Update. "A distinctive mood of uncertainty" is how our USA correspondent Manik Mehta describes the developing situation surrounding falling oil prices and their cost-cutting impact on steel production.
Hans Mueller offers readers an interesting report on CRU's North American Steel conference, held in Chicago recently, where CRU's own Elizabeth Johnson provided some good news for the American steel industry. According to Johnson, 'pressure from Chinese exports should slowly start to ease'.
Continuing with Steel Times International's fine tradition of publishing technical articles on steel production, this month sees Keith Walker take a metallurgical view of casting, and SAIL's Research & Development Centre for Iron and Steel discuss wireless signal transmission for the ladle turret on continuous casters as well as improving energy efficiency in a rotary kiln for lime production.
And talking of SAIL, Danieli Corus' J Bak and Edo Engel discuss the building of SAIL's new blast furnace at the Rourkela Steel Plant in India
German measurement instrumentation company Endress + Hauser answers this month's Q&A while Harry Hodson describes the 1890s as 'a difficult decade for steel' in this month's History page.
March 2015 Contents