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.
May/June STI 2014
This month the Association for Iron & Steel Technology (AIST) held its annual AISTech convention and exposition in Indianapolis, USA and, as you might expect, Steel Times International was there. In this issue we are fortunate to have an exclusive interview with Ron Ashburn, executive director of the AIST. Ron discusses the issues affecting the global and the American steel industry and updates us on the latest activities of the Institute.
In fact, talking of issues affecting the American steel industry, Manik Mehta, in his USA Update discusses how the US administration has come out in support of the domestic steel industry in an international trade dispute with Mexico and Turkey over anti-dumping. Moving south, Germano Mendes de Paula explains how Ternium Mexico is now well-positioned to serve the country's burgeoning automotive market.
In India, says Steel Times International's India correspondent, weak demand from consumer industries, coupled with cuts in infrastructure spending, continue to hamper growth.
As with all issues of Steel Times International, technical features take centre stage and this month we have Process Control in our sights with an article from Siemens Metals Technologies writing about robotics and continuous casting and the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) explaining compact side gap position control for a hot strip mill. There is also an article from Alfonso Martinez of UKCG Technical Services on Data Acquisition and the Electric Arc Furnace.
Structural Steel in the USA, says our correspondent Myra Pinkham, is still experiencing difficulties and that only modest improvements can be expected in terms of demand. We also hear from Mark Wilkinson of BM TRADA on how all steel frame structures and structural components placed on the market within the European Union as of 1 July 2014 will be required to carry a CE mark. Mark outlines what it all means for steel frame manufacturers and component fabricators.
Our consultant editor Dr. Tim Smith profiles Brazil's international success story – Gerdau – and the subject of this month's Perspectives Q&A is Michael Schratz, VP of marketing for Dialight, who argues that lighting upgrades are often 'the low hanging fruit' for steelmakers when it comes to hitting sustainability targets.
Last but not least, Dr. Tim Smith looks at preserved Bessemer converters in our regular History page.