Welcome to the first issue of 2015 and a Happy New Year. In this month's issue we talk to NLMK's director of strategy and business development, Konstantin Arshakuni, and EUROFER's director-general Axel Eggert about what we can expect from the steel industry in 2015.
Arshakuni says it will be a 'muddle-through' year while Eggert keeps his focus on China, arguing that the main concern for EU steelmakers will be the continuation of elevated import levels from China and other countries. In fact, where dumping is concerned the Latin American steel industry is worried not only about China but about Turkey.
The subject was discussed at length at the recent Brazilian Steel Institute's 25th Annual Conference in Sao Paulo where SteelFirst's Vera Blei said that Turkey was a new threat for steelmakers generally and for Latin America in particular. The Turks have it all to play for, Blei insisted: a highly adaptable private sector, an entrepreneurial spirit and, above all, a prime geographical location thanks to coastal plants offering 'major logistical advantages and cost efficiencies'.
In a news item, EUROFER'S Axel Eggert claims that unfair trading practices by non-EU steel-producing countries have proliferated since the global crisis and that the countries concerned are undermining the so-called level playing field for European steelmakers. He said that European trade policy needs to be reactive and effective and believes that securing an internationally level playing field is becoming increasingly challenging.
Everybody is calling for action against cheap steel being imported into their countries: In India, falling demand from domestic consumer sectors has negatively affected the country's steel industry and there has also been a sharp increase in imports from China. The Latin American steel industry claims that action is needed on Chinese finished steel and is worried about Turkey, which has been the focus of many trade defence cases globally.
And talking of Latin America, Steel Times International's January/February edition carries an article by Germano Mendes de Paul on the aforementioned Brazilian Steel Institute's 25th Annual Conference where China and Turkey were discussed at length. Turkey is targetting Latin America with long products.
But there's more to Steel Times International than China and Turkey. There are, of course, some excellent technical features, including one from Nucor and Konecranes discussing the former's one-crane solution at its melt shop in Jewett, Texas. Also under the banner of Handling & Scheduling is an article by Primetals Technologies of Germany.
Chemical composition control is dealt with by steel consultant Keith Walker who argues that achieving the correct composition is essential in order to achieve the required mechanical properties in the final product.
If rolling is your thing then don't forget the article by Steel Authority of India Ltd's Research & Development Centre for Iron & Steel in which R&D experts discuss absolute encoders and how they can reduce breakages.
This month PANalytical's Dr. Micaela Longo, the company's segment manager for the metals market, answers our pertinent questions and Harry Hodson puts pen to paper to discuss how steel shaped the modern world.
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.
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.