The International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) has released preliminary data which shows that stainless steel production grew by 3.3% in 2011 to 32.1Mt, a record for a single year.
Although there was some destocking noted during the third quarter of 2011, this was partially compensated during the final three months of the year. The increase in 2011 production comes on top of a 25% increase in 2010 which followed the economic crisis of 2008/2009. The recovery of the industry proves that a century after its discovery and commercialisation, stainless steel still has enormous potential for growth.
Not all of the stainless producing regions of the world have developed at the same pace in 2011. Excluding China, production in the Asia region declined by 2.7% to 8.8Mt during 2011. In Taiwan, production declined by 20.6% and output in Japan declined by 5.3% to 3.2Mt. In contrast, South Korea increased production +5.3% and India by +7.0%.
China has remained the driving force in stainless steel production with growth of 11.9% in 2011. The country produced 12.6Mt of stainless during the year accounting for 39.2% of global output. Including China, Asian production now accounts for two-thirds of all the stainless steel produced in the world.
Stainless steel production in the Western Europe and Africa largely stagnated during 2011 with volume of just under 7.9Mt. Growth rates of individual countries in the region ranged from -5% to +18%. In Central and Eastern Europe, production increased by 14.1% to 0.4Mt, although volume is almost negligible in a global context. In the Americas, stainless production rose to 2.5Mt, an increase of 4.7% compared to 2010.
300 series Cr-Ni austenitic stainless accounted for 58.2% of global output, 400 series Cr stainless 28.0% and 200 series Cr-Mn 13.8%.