Welcome to a very festive Steel Times International, courtesy of MTAG of Switzerland.
This month's issue carries coverage of the 48th World Steel Conference, which was held this year in Moscow and offered Peter Marcus, managing partner of US-based World Steel Dynamics, the perfect platform to lay some good news on delegates – the good news being that, where automotive is concerned, the aluminium industry's giggles will soon turn to grimaces. Why? Because what Marcus called the 'soft panache' surrounding the marketing of the F-150 truck has concealed the inherent price and cost sensitivities of the 'miracle metal'.
Where automotive is concerned, the steel industry should win through, argues Marcus, thanks to the development of advanced high strength steels and the fact that weight savings do not mean major MPG savings and let's not forget – aluminium is not cheap.
While not covered in the print edition, readers will find Hans Jurgen Kerkhoff's report – entitled Low growth and high volatility – on this very website under the features section. Kerkhoff claims that low growth might be the 'new normal' until the emerging economies pick up.
STI's World Steel conference coverage is rounded off with an exclusive interview. Axel Eggert is EUROFER's new director-general following the departure of Gordon Moffat. According to Eggert, the EU needs to make the right decisions now if it wants the steel industry to further invest in Europe.
Hans Mueller reports from New Orleans where he attended the 2nd DRI and Minimill Conference, organised by Metal Bulletin. According to Mueller, DRI (Direct Reduced Iron) is of special interest in parts of North America where new drilling methods have led to increased extraction, and a sharp drop in the price of natural gas, which is a major cost element in the production of DRI.
Dr. Tim Smith, former editor of Steel Times International, took a trip to Spain recently to meet with Siderex (The Spanish Association of Steelworks Exporters). In his report, he says that, prior to the 2008 recession, Spain's equipment manufacturers had largely switched from domestic supply to exports. Where processing equipment is concerned, 80 to 90% of output is now exported and only 10 to 20% destined for domestic sales – the reverse of the pre-2008 era. Today, the main markets are Asia, the Middle East, Turkey and Russia – not Europe.
Myra Pinkham, one of our USA correspondents, interviews John Correnti, CEO of Big River Steel who prefers to call his EAF facility in Osceola, Arkansas a flexi-mill, not a minimill.
Also in the November/December issue, Martin McVicar, managing director of Combilift, says that steel will always have a place in automotive manufacturing. "The only way to get strength into a compact vehicle is by using steel," he argues, adding that Combilift plans to purchase 15,000 tonnes of steel to construct its own vehicles.
The R&D Centre for Iron & Steel at Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) offers an interesting article entitled Simulation studies in Hot Dip Process Simulator on Al-Si Coatings.
We also have two regional updates this month from China and India.
And finally we conclude with Dr. Tim Smith's excellent History Page article on transporter bridges. It's heartening to note that transporter bridges are still very much with us.