Steel Times International Issue
July-August 2020

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July-August 2020

We're not out of the woods yet, but here's hoping...

It would be wrong of me to suggest that COVID-19 is packing its bags and heading home (wherever that might be), but the fact that ‘other news’ is making itself known – think Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell, Prince Andrew and, dare I say it, Brooklyn Beckham’s ‘happy news’ – is a sure sign that the mass media is getting bored with stories of governmental incompetence.

Over here in the UK the daily press briefings by the British Government stopped some weeks ago and now, far from frightening us all to ‘stay home, protect the NHS and save lives’, Boris Johnson and his sidekicks Matt Hancock and Rishi Sunak, are advising us to throw caution to the wind, use public transport and eat out in pubs and restaurants – they’re even prepared to pay for our meals! Bring on herd immunity!

Whereas a couple of issues ago we had plenty of illustrative nods to the virus scattered throughout our news pages and on the front cover, you will be pleased to note that this issue is less scary. The furore is dying down and some good news has crept in. But let’s not get too excited. Yes, it’s good to hear that average capacity utilisation in India has improved to 75% and that Jindal Stainless has ramped up production for global markets. It’s great to note that US Steel has restarted its number one blast furnace in the Mon Valley, Pittsburgh, and that Cleveland Cliffs has restarted its Tilden mine, but it’s not all good news: Expansion at JSW has been put back, US Steel is indefinitely idling its 1 and 2 weld mills in Texas, POSCO is holding back on restarting one of its Gwangyang blast furnaces, and the World Steel Association predicts that global steel demand will contract 6.4% because of COVID-19. And let’s not forget the prospect of a second wave as winter approaches.

But let’s not get too downhearted. I’m amazed at the resilience of all of us. Even here on Steel Times International we’ve tackled the virus head on, we’re all working from home and we’ve been running our highly successful Free Webinar Programme 2020, with top speakers tackling some of the big issues affecting the global steel industry today. There will be more of these webinars as the year progresses and if you missed them first time round, visit https://www.steeltimesint.com where you will find recorded versions of them all.

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2 Leader by Matthew Moggridge, editor, Steel Times International

4 News round-up – the latest global news

12 USA update – Imports boost despite virus

14 Latin America update – Corona ratings deemed 'positive'

17 Innovations – The latest new products and contracts

24 Ironmaking – Decarbonising the steelmaking process

29 Environment – Hydrogen steelmaking

32 Automotive – Reliable steel solutions

35 Oxygen steelmaking – Two porous plugs better than one?

38 Lubricants – Minimising water risk

44 Steel processing – New creative heights for PVD

47 Electric steelmaking – Analysing EAF voltage measurement

51 Process control – Increase productivity, reduce energy

54 Perspectives – Philippi-Hagenbuch is happy and optimistic

56 History – A bridge too far by Harry Hodson