If Steel Times International was a different sort of magazine – one sold in newsagents and with broader public appeal – the front cover of this month’s print edition might have been totally different. It might have been green. It might have sported a photograph of rolling hills or wind turbines – anything that brings to mind ‘the environment’.
The reason is simple: This month we concentrate on sustainability, climate policy and saving the planet in what could be called our ‘green issue’.
While it would be easy to dismiss the steel industry as ‘not very green’, the opposite is closer the truth. Yes, steel production is a heavy industrial process, but let’s not forget that steel is 100% recyclable and that 75% of all the steel products ever made are still in use today and that buildings and other structures made from steel can last for more than 100 years if properly maintained.
We kick off with an article based on the latest publication from worldsteel, Steel in the Circular Economy – a life cycle perspective. The key message is that ‘people’ are often obsessed with the use-phase of products made from steel when a broader life cycle assessment should be considered to establish steel’s true ‘green credentials’.
The argument put forward by worldsteel is that the ‘circular economy’ reflects the true value of steel to society in terms of its environmental impact on the planet and that ‘life cycle thinking’ is the only way to assess steel’s true sustainability.
Carlo Pettinelli, director of Sustainable Growth and EU2020 at the European Commission (EC) outlines how the EC is ready to play its part in helping the steel sector remain competitive despite the challenges of overcapacity, high energy costs, volatile raw materials prices and a regulatory burden ‘that implies certain costs’.
In an article entitled EU climate policy under scrutiny, Gareth Stace, head of climate & environment at the Engineering Employers Federation, argues that the EU’s climate and energy policy framework is no simpler or more predictable for steelmakers than it was when the European steel sector first grappled with it a decade ago.
Finnish stainless steel producer Outokumpu argues that stainless steel is a ‘dream material’ for sustainable living while Fives Stein, a steel production technology provider, discusses its eco-design philosophy in relation to reducing GHG emissions from the furnace.
We move on to electric steelmaking with an article on the principles behind Organic Rankine Cycle-based waste heat recovery systems from Italian technology provider Turboden.
Looking after the environment is one thing, but looking after people is something else. In an exclusive interview, worldsteel’s director of safety, technology and environment, Henk Reimink, argues that good leadership determines plant safety while Myra Pinkham says that most steelmakers in the USA have some kind of safety programme in place but that the key is to avoid complacency.
All the above, plus our regular features – news, country updates, Q&A and the much-loved History page – can be found in the April 2015 edition of Steel Times International.
Welcome to the March 2015 edition of Steel Times International in which it is still just about acceptable to carry New Year Predictions features. This month, we've got one more for you and it's from USA-based Becky Hites who runs Steel-Insights, a company she founded in 2012. According to Becky 2015 will be a good year in terms of production, but there will be no pricing power, making it a poor year in terms of earnings.
Having now returned from the CRU World Steel Conference in Brazil, a key theme this month appears to be one of uncertainty and it's reflected in the headlines found in this month's issue. "A poor year for pricing power" sums up Becky's article, but let's look at some others: "Jindal Steel and Power in dire straits" is Dilip Jha's India Update headline, and my own China Update article screams "China – is Europe a soft touch?" Many think it is and, as I point out in my leader this month – a leader inspired by an 'appearance' I made on BBC radio discussing Chinese imports – some say it is beyond the EU to do anything about Chinese imports flooding into the country. Europe, it is argued, is a soft touch and the European machine is cumbersome and slow-movng. Whether hell will freeze over before the EU takes the Chinese to task is up for debate and I'm sure the industry will debate it in forums around the world throughout 2015.
The fact that I was being interviewed by the BBC was plenty to do with the fact that the UK steel industry had been voicing its concerns about the rising tide of Chinese steel flooding into the UK as a result of an increasingly buoyant construction industry. I'm used to hearing the Americans express their feelings on the subject, but to hear the UK industry joining the fray proved, perhaps, that the old British reserve was being replaced by a more aggressive stance as UK-based steelmakers join international cries for a level playing field.
The Chinese problem, of course, is a global one. Even on the other side of the world, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, there are mounting concerns for the Brazilian steel industry if the country becomes flooded with Chinese metal.
And getting back to that word 'uncertainty', it features in the headline for this month's USA Update. "A distinctive mood of uncertainty" is how our USA correspondent Manik Mehta describes the developing situation surrounding falling oil prices and their cost-cutting impact on steel production.
Hans Mueller offers readers an interesting report on CRU's North American Steel conference, held in Chicago recently, where CRU's own Elizabeth Johnson provided some good news for the American steel industry. According to Johnson, 'pressure from Chinese exports should slowly start to ease'.
Continuing with Steel Times International's fine tradition of publishing technical articles on steel production, this month sees Keith Walker take a metallurgical view of casting, and SAIL's Research & Development Centre for Iron and Steel discuss wireless signal transmission for the ladle turret on continuous casters as well as improving energy efficiency in a rotary kiln for lime production.
And talking of SAIL, Danieli Corus' J Bak and Edo Engel discuss the building of SAIL's new blast furnace at the Rourkela Steel Plant in India
German measurement instrumentation company Endress + Hauser answers this month's Q&A while Harry Hodson describes the 1890s as 'a difficult decade for steel' in this month's History page.
March 2015 Contents
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.