February 2018 – Digital Edition

I don’t know about you, but it takes me a while to get back into the swing of things after the Christmas break. I’ve stopped wishing people a Happy New Year via email, which is a start, but I’ve yet to hit the ground running, even though there’s two issues of the magazine to publish before the end of February – one print edition, which is now out, and this digital edition. Obviously, if you’re reading this, it’s out, but right now, at the time of writing, there’s a few days to go and I’m sitting here ranting to myself about having to write two leader articles in the space of a few days and wondering what I can say this time around. 

Well, there’s a fair bit going on: ThyssenKrupp’s 20,000-strong workforce has finally approved the merger with Tata Steel as no forced lay-offs or plant closures have been promised, which is good news for the workers, but if Dr. Wolfgang Eder, CEO of Austrian steelmaker voestalpine, is right, there is a need for plant closures because 20% of Europe’s steelmaking capacity is surplus to requirements.

Conversely, ThyssenKrupp and Tata both argue that the merger between the two steel giants will help them tackle overcapacity in the European steel market – without any forced lay-offs or major plant closures. Watch this space.

There is, however, a note of optimism within the European steel industry. Even EUROFER is painting a rosy picture, claiming that in Q3 2017 EU28 apparent steel consumption grew by 1.1% year-on-year and that apparent steel demand rose 1.9%. For 2018 output in the EU’s steel-using sectors is forecast to grow 2.2% and by 1.9% in 2019. That said,  Dr. Eder was quoted in the Financial Times as saying, “We should not be surprised that the European steel industry is suffering.”

Other good news for the start of the year is that world crude steel production was up 5.3% for 2017 when compared with the previous year, and that Swedish steelmaker SSAB’s joint initiative with LKAB and Vattenfall – known as the HYBRIT initiative – will make fossil-free steelmaking a reality by 2035.

Voestalpine is optimistic for carbon-free steelmaking after announcing that it has gained approval from the Government of Upper Austria for the construction of the world’s largest pilot plant for CO2-free production of hydrogen.

It’s all good news, so I say Happy New Year.

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February 2018 – Digital Edition highlights

2 Leader by Matthew Moggridge, editor, Steel Times International

4 Astounding Facts & Figures

7 Europe Update – Painting a healthy picture for EU steel

8 Innovations – The latest new product innovations and contract news

22 Sandvik's Steel Survey – 'Don't prioritise cost over quality'

26 Maintenance – Defining Housing Strength

35 Furnaces – Reducing NOx emissions

39 Environment – 40% to 60% less CO2

46 Future Steel Forum 2018 – don't forget to sign up for this global Industry 4.0 conference in Poland

48 China Update – Cold weather inflates coal prices