Global News Digest for February 2019

Here is a round-up of steel news from around the globe.

News Round-up Steel Times International March 2019

• US Steel (USS) is planning to invest $215 million installing a technologically advanced electric arc furnace (EAF) at the company’s Fairfield Works in Alabama, USA. Construction of the furnace has been initiated at USS’s Tubular Operations in the town. 

Source: Alabama News Centre, 

• A report by Reuters claims that ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, is looking to acquire Indian steelmaker ESSAR Steel’s 1,200mW power plant in central India, widely believed to be ‘one of the most prized assets’ of the ‘debt-ridden’ steel company.  

Source: Reuters, 18 February 2019.

• It has been reported that South Korea’s industry Minister has expressed concern over what it calls the Eurasian Economic Union’s (EAEU or EEU) ‘potential safeguard against steel products’, claiming the ongoing investigation does not meet WTO standards. According to the Yonhap News Agency, ‘the move came after the EAEU commenced an investigation into South Korean steel products following an influx of the country’s steel into the EAEU region.

Source: Yonhap News Agency, 19 February 2019.

• Tata Steel’s Jharia Division celebrated its 100thanniversary on 15 February at an event attended by T V Narendran, CEO and managing director of Tata Steel. Mr Narendran was the chief guest and Anand Sen, president, TQM & Steel Business, accompanied him. Jharia is a coal-rich area of India located in Jharkhand state and is considered part of Dhanbad City. 

Source: The Avenue Mail, 19 February 2019.

• Japanese steelmaker Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation is ramping up crude steel production at its Wakayama steel mill to full capacity, according to an online report. A new furnace at the plant has added 500kt/yr of capacity, it is claimed. 

Source: SPGlobal, 20 February 2019.

• After the Vale mine disaster in Brazil, Gerdau SA has announced plans to invest $79.6 million on dry stacking, a method of disposing of mining waste without relying upon dams. The company plans to implement the process in the state of Minas Gerais. 

Source: Reuters, 21 February 2019.

• A consortium of Chinese companies is likely to be handed a steel mill currently operated by the Pakistan Steel Mills Board, according to an online report. The Chinese Metallurgical Corporation of China and the Donghua Iron and Steel Group is interested in taking over the mill on a ‘built operate transfer’ (BOT) basis for a period of 30 years, handing it back in 2050. A two-phase revival plan is likely with Phase One bringing capacity up to 1.5Mt/year over an 18-month period. 

Source: The Nation, 25 February 2019.

• Doubt hangs over the re-negotiated “NAFTA” agreement between the USA, Canada and Mexico after Marc Garneau, Canada’s transport minister, said that his country might not ratify the new USMCA if tariffs introduced by President Donald Trump on steel and aluminium aren’t lifted. 

Source: Financial Post, 25 February 2019.

 • Australia’s largest steelmaker, Bluescope, has signalled its preparedness to invest $1 billion expanding its North Star steel mill in Ohio. According to an online report, the company’s CEO Mark Vassella said that a final decision will be made during H2 2019-20. 

Source: Financial Review, 25 February 2019.

 • ThyssenKrupp has announced that it will be spending ‘a mid double-digit million euro sum’ on ensuring there is no repeat of last year’s logistical crisis involving product shipments on the Rhine. Hot weather caused the river to dry up in parts, preventing vessels from sailing fully loaded. A report by Reuters claims that the company has emergency plans in place for personnel and has explored alternative modes of transport and barge modernisations.

Source: Reuters, 27 February 2019.

• South Korean steel giant POSCO is planning to invest almost US$1 billion on building environmentally friendly production facilities. Roughly half of the money would be spent on building new power facilities, after closing older installations, and the other half on emissions reduction equipment. 

Source: Reuters, 26 February 2019.

• The proposed merger between Tata Steel’s European operations and ThyssenKrupp is of concern to the European Commission, which is checking whether the joint venture will harm competition. It is likely, claims an online report, that TK might have to divest some of its assets.

Source: Money Control.com

• Despite Donald Trump’s steel tariffs, Emirates Steel has increased US sales and aims to boost market share in South America, Iraq and Syria. The company claims that 3% of its sales goes to the US.

Source: The National, 26 February 2019.

• Two fires in two months at Gerdau Steel, Whitby, Ontario is cause for concern. The fire started in the conveyor belt area of the mill’s melt shop on 26 February, the same place a previous fire had started on 23 January. Dave Speed, Whitby’s fire chief, said it was a process issue and not operator error. There were no injuries reported. 

Source: Durham Region.com, 26 February 2019.

• ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, is under investigation following a black cloud that drifted around the neighbourhood of the plant, causing one local resident an asthma attack and convincing another that his neighbour’s house was on fire. The company claims the emission was caused by ‘an upset’ at one of its blast furnaces. 

Source: The Spec.com, 26 February 2019.

• If the European Commission dictates that Tata Steel and ThyssenKrupp assets need to be sold off for the proposed merger of the two steel giants to go ahead, then Austrian steelmaker voestalpine has made it clear that it would not be interested in buying up any of the assets. The company’s CEO Wolfgang Eder has told Reuters that expansion in steel has not been part of voestalpine’s strategy ‘for a long time’. 

Source: Reuters, 28 February 2019.

 • North America’s biggest steelmaker, Nucor Corporation, headed by John Ferriola, has taken on Austrian plant builder Primetals Technologies to upgrade a plate mill in Alabama, USA. The project completes in Q1 2020.

Source: Primetals Technologies, 28 February 2019.

 • Russian steelmaker EVRAZ claims that its net profits in 2018 more than tripled. The company made a profit of US$2.41 billion to the year ended 31 December, up from US$699 billion the previous year. The company attributes its success to favourable market trends and an upswing in prices for vanadium and steel products. 

Source: MarketWatch.com, 28 February 2019.

 • Ethisphere Institute, a global lead in ‘advancing the standards of ethical business practices’ has recognised Tata Steel was one of the world’s most ethical companies, something managing director T V Narendran is very happy about – and for good reason, it’s the eighth time that the company has been given the accolade. 

 Source: New Indian Express, 28 February 2019.

 • A report by Business Insider claims that ThyssenKrupp will continue with its plans to break up the company even if the merger with Tata Steel doesn’t go ahead. CEO Guido Kerkhoff said the feasibility of the break-up was not a problem. He also said he was confident that the Tata Steel JV could be completed early in 2019. 

 Source: BusinessInsider.com, 28 February 2019.

 • Following the collapse of a rail freight deal, the world’s biggest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal, announced that it will halt production at its Bosnian iron ore mines. Iron ore transportation from Prijedor to Zenica will be halted after negotiations with Zeljeznice RS collapsed. 

Source: Reuters, 1 March 2019.

 • A $700 million cash for steel deal has been arranged between Indian steelmaker JSW and Duferco International, a trader based in Switzerland. The deal is said to be the largest of its kind arranged for an Indian steel company and will be repaid with steel over a five-year period. 

 Source: Financial Times, 1 March 2019.

• And the award for Best Integrated Steel Plant in India goes to… Tata Steel! The company recently won the Prime Minister’s Trophy for Excellence in Performance of Integrated Steel Plants for the best overall performance among the integrated plants in the country. 

Source: Orissa Diary, 3 March 2019.