Official figures for worldwide crude stainless steel output in 2012 are estimated to have recorded another all-time high figure of 34.6Mt, 2.6% higher than the previous peak, which was achieved in 2011.

Of the traditional stainless steel producing nations, only South Korea and China exceeded the previous year's outturn. The European Union, the United States, Japan and Taiwan all produced less than in 2011.

Chinese stainless steel production is known to be under-reported. The latest official figures show output rising by 7.6% in 2012, to nearly 15.3Mt. Although the published numbers have been significantly uprated over the past year, they may still understate production by as much as one million tonnes per year.

Global stainless steel output is forecast to reach another new record level in 2013, in excess of 36.3Mt. This would represent a year-on-year increase of 5.1%. The majority of the increase will come from emerging economies such as China and India. Production in most of the developed nations is anticipated to return to positive growth this year.

Source: MEPS - Stainless Steel Review www.meps.co.uk