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November/December 2014

November/December 2014

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.

 

November/December 2014 Contents

Recent News

NLMK Group reduces injuries at Russian sites by 40%

NLMK Group claims it has reduced the amount of injuries at its Russian sites from the beginning of 2014 by 40% and by 50% year-on-year at its Lipetsk plant.

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EU must get to grips with ‘foreign’ trade protectionist measures, says Eggert

Unfair trading practices by non-EU steel-producing countries have proliferated since the global crisis, claims EUROFER director-general Axel Eggert.

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MMK mill ready for international automotive business

Since it’s launch in 2012, the Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works’ (MMK) Mill 2000 cold rolling plant has achieved an output of 2Mt, which includes 450kt per annum of continuous galvanizing capacity and 650kt of combined continuous annealing/galvanizing capacity.

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Chinese crude production down (and steel exports too)

In October 2014 China produced 67.5Mt of crude steel, down 0.3% when compared to the same period last year. The daily average figure was 2.1Mt, down 3.3%. The figure for January to October 2014 was 685.3Mt, up 2.1% year-on-year. The expected annual crude steel production figure for 2014 is likely to be 823Mt.

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Recent Features

Monocon International Refractories

UK-based Monocon International Refractories are looking to recruit a UK and International Sales Manager and Product Managers.

Founded 40 years ago, the company is based in South Yorkshire, employs 120 people and boasts a turnover of approximately £30 million. 

The company has recently made a substantial investment in a new technology centre aimed at expanding the company's product portfolio and enhance its current product range.

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Low growth and high volatility

Low growth might be the 'new normal' until the emerging economies pick up, says Hans Jürgen Kerkhoff, chairman of world steel's economics committee. Matthew Moggridge, editor of Steel Times International, reports.

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Mitigation of explosion risk in vacuum degassing plants

With the introduction of mechanical vacuum pumps for degassing, methods of efficient gas
cooling and dust separation become necessary to avoid the risk of a combination of a critical offgas
composition along with an ignition point resulting in an explosion. This article reviews how to
undertake a risk assessment and looks at equipment to mitigate the risk.
By Wilhelm Burgmann* & Uwe Zöellig**

* Consultant for Vacuum Metallurgy, (Strasbourg), e-mail wburgmann@burgmann-net.de
** Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum GmbH (Cologne/Germany), e-mail Uwe.Zoellig@oerlikon.com

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Steel utility poles versus wood

The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) estimates that approximately 185 million utility poles are in service in North America, and most of them are made from wood. When utility poles need to be replaced or a new distribution line set up, utility managers consider factors such as cost and reliability. But increasingly they are also considering the impact of the material on the environment and reviewing their options. By Mark Thimons, director, construction sustainability, Steel Market Development Institute, a business unit of the American Iron & Steel Institute

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