Dr. Edwin Basson, director-general of the World Steel Association (worldsteel) says that steel will not be without its challenges in 2017.

In his New Year Message, Basson said that the global steel industry enters the new year 'with a good deal of optimism', but added that geopolitical uncertainties and weak levels of investment around the world continue to stifle a strong steel demand recovery.

"We expect to see steel demand grow by 0.5% in 2017 to reach 1,510 million tonnes (1.5 billion tonnes). This follows on from a contraction of 3% in 2015, but growth in 2016, which suggests that global steel demand is through the bottom of its current cycle," Basson said.

"Excess capacity in the industry remains a global problem that requires global solutions. worldsteel members have agreed on a number of principles that we hope will guide restructuring activities in 2017, namely that policies must be followed that ensure market forces play a decisive role in determining the future of the industry, but not without developing safety nets that mitigate its consequences. Open and frank discussion in the coming year will help to ensure that a level playing field is promoted and preserved," he added.

According to Basson, environmental challenges persist. He said that the steel industry will persevere in being the foundation of a sustainable society-wide circular economy 'in which the burden on the natural world is alleviated by ensuring that inputs are reduced, reused, remanufactured and recycled'.

"Tireless innovation in production processes and new grades of steel show not only the commitment of the industry to these challenges, but the demonstrable progress that we have been making in meeting them and will continue to make in the new year," he concluded.