US steel companies are expected to do well this year, according to a report by Steel Times International's USA correspondent who talks about an 'American steel rennaissance' linked to the controversial practice of fracking. The American Midwest is said to be enjoying an economic boom as well as a rebound in construction spending – and it looks as if the steel industry as a whole is taking a head-on approach towards the issue of aluminium versus steel in the automotive industry.
US steel companies are aggressively courting and forming partnerships with automobile companies in response to attempts by the aluminium industry to project the light metal as a substitute for steel in automobile manufacturing.
In this month's Q&A interview (with Oerlikon's Uwe Zollig) Mr Zollig says 'we will continue to see steel in cars for some time' even if he does believe that the amount of steel used per car will decrease as manufacturers favour aluminium and composite materials.
Myra Pinkham, in her article on steel markets, argues that the success of the US domestic steel market depends upon infrastructure development. She reports, however, that US infrastructure investment as a percentage of GDP is at its lowest level in more than 20 years.
In an article about steel service centres in the USA, Pinkham argues that they are offering more value-added services instead of being solely dependent upon their inventories and are managing potential risks and broadening the scope of the products they offer.
A report from Latin America highlights 'a good macro-economic performance' in Columbia where 'things are looking good' as a 'new wave of investment' enables domestic producers to reduce market share currently dominated by imports.
There are some interesting technical features in this issue starting with an article by ThyssenKrupp's head of coke oven development, Ralf Neuwirth. Mr Neuwirth argues that high capacity coke ovens offer many advantages including reduced emissions, less coal towers, less quench systems and less oven machines, not forgetting lower personnel requirements and an extended operational lifetime.
Another article on ironmaking – this time from Hatch – examines how steelmakers can extend the campaign life of their blast furnace. Hatch argues that the opportunity of extend blast furnace life and increase output at low cost led to the widespread introduction of copper staves. Unfortunately, their reliability is questionable following premature failures caused by abrasive wear of the hot face occuring during the first 10 years of operation. The solution might lie in the development, by Hatch, of an online accretion measurement tool.
Where stainless steels are concerned, Sandvik Materials Technology's Eduardo Perea, the company's global technical and marketing manager, argues that research and development delivers increased corrosion resistance.
Lastly, the issue carries an abstract of an article by Oerlikon that looks into the explosion risk of vacuum degassing. The full article can be found on the Steel Times International website.
In this month's Q&A we hear from Uwe Zollig, head of global market segment process at Oerlikon, who argues that automotive steel will remain competitive in the face of stiff competition from aluminium and composite materials.
Last but not least, Harry Hodson writes about Victorian ironware for this month's History page.
The main focus of this month's edition of Steel Times International is Mexico. To quote a few paragraphs from my September leader article, ' the image of Mexico – generated largely by the media – as a dusty old place full of sleepy men in sombreros answering mañana to any request made of them is, today, far removed from reality.'
Mexico is said to be moving out of the doldrums thanks to structural reforms to strategic segments of its economy and renewed levels of dynamism. That big names in the global automotive industry, such as Audi, Daimler-Nissan and BMW, have established a foothold in Mexico, can only be good news for the country's developing steel industry.
Mexico has long been a signatory to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and is well-placed geographically in relation to North America, South America and Canada.
This month's issue of Steel Times International contains a 29-page special supplement on Mexico covering all aspects of the country's business environment in relation to steel production.
Outside of Mexico, we are covering the International Stainless Steel Forum's 18th annual conference and carry an interesting article by Outokumpo on its recently completed 100 million Euro equipment upgrade at its stainless steel plate mill in Degerfors, Sweden. The investment, claims the company, will deliver both cost savings and a wide range of benefits for stainless steel plate customers.
There are also two interesting articles on the subject of rolling. First, there is an article by Steel Authority of India Ltd's Research & Development Centre for Iron and Steel on the company's Durgapur merchant mill. There is also an article by Russula's Jens P Nylander on how new technology can increase production capacity.
Manik Mehta reports on the Success Steel Strategies XXIX conference, attended by, among others, ArcelorMittal's Lakshmi Mittal who rather eloquently described steel as 'the fabric of life'.
The subject of this month's Perspectives Q&A is Kevin Guay, senior sales engineer (research and development) of USA-based Plattco who claims he is very optimistic about the progress being made by the steel industry to address the challenge of complying with new and more stringent environmental regulations.
Dr. Tim Smith, Steel Times' consultant editor, writes about Ireland's early blast furnaces for this month's History page and, as usual, we have a number of news update features on the USA, Latin America, China and Japan.
Some media people refer to the summer months as the 'silly season' but not Steel Times International. Our July/August edition examines some of the serious issues affecting the global steel industry. With steel imports into the USA growing steadily and creating a growing sense of unease in the process, Manik Mehta, our US correspondent, looks at the situation and finds that Russian exports to the USA increased by 324% during the first five months of 2014.
Russia was by no means the biggest exporter of steel to the USA. At 501kt during the first five months of the year, the Russians came in fifth. South Korea was the biggest offender (2.1Mt) and now, of course, we have heard that the American Department of Commerce has introduced heavy tariffs on the offending countries – music to the ears of the Americans but bad news for the South Koreans who, ironically, are now calling for a more level playing field.
Cheap OTCG from outside of the USA has led US Steel to idle two of its tubular manufacturing plants in the USA but, as Ben Ehmcke argues in his article, The demise of US GOES steel production, an article about the demise of grain-oriented silicon electrical steel, import restrictions on GOES by US producers are likely to drive manufacture of transformer core assemblies offshore – resulting in job losses in the USA.
Steel Times International travelled to Edinburgh recently to attend Eurocoke 2014, an insightful event full of many interesting presentations from respected analysts such as CRU and the US-based Steel Insights. A full report of the event can be found inside the July/August edition.
There are also two articles – from Siemens and steel consultant Keith Walker – on oxygen steelmaking and an interesting profile of a German steel processor, CD Walzholz of Hagen. We spoke to managing director, Dr. Matthais Gierse about the company's global presence.
Magnetic Analysis Corporation's CEO Joseph Vitulli, says that his superpower, should he be granted one, would be to try and level the playing field so that innovation, more than inexpensive labour, would determine the winners and losers – read about this and other things in our regular Perspectives Q&A interview.
In addition to our usual regular pages, such as the Updates and the History page, we have introduced a technology page, highlighting some of the new products being introduced by those companies active in the development and supply of processing technology.
All-in-all it's a good issue packed with industry news, analysis, technical features, company profiles and everything you might expect from a top-notch, global steel publication.