China's Steel Tonnage Rose Again in March

April 29, 2020
The world's steelmakers produced 147.05 million metric tons during March, more than half of that in China, but the trend shows steel output dropping in nearly every instance — except one.

Global steel production increased during March 2020 by over 2.7 million metric tons, or up 1.9% from February, despite overall poor industrial demand in and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in major steel-producing nations during that period. World Steel reported raw-steel production for 64 countries totaled 147.05 million metric tons during March, which is -6.04% from the March 2019 total.

The slight, month-over-month increase may reflect incomplete data, or two extra working days in March than during February, but the World Steel Assn. cautioned that the ongoing disruption necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic results in estimated totals from many national and regional sources, and that these figures may be revised in subsequent updates.

The new figures bring 2020 year-to-date, global raw-steel production to 443.03 million metric tons, down -1.4% from the January-March 2019 total.

More than half of the March global output was produced in China, from which the results are not estimated. The world's largest steelmaking nation produced 78.975 million metric tons of raw steel during March, a 5.62% rise over the February total. Compared to March 2019, the new figure is a -1.7% decline. For the year to-date, Chinese steelmakers have produced 234,450 million metric tons, 1.2% more than China's January-March 2019 total output.

The second-largest steelmaking nation, India, produced an estimated 8.7 million metric tons of raw steel during March 2020, which is -9.52% lower than the February total, and down -13.9% from the March 2019 result.  Through three months of 2020, Indian steelmakers have produced 27.5 million metric tons, a -13.7% decrease from the January-March 2019 results.

In Japan, March raw-steel production was estimated at 8.2 million metric tons, rising 3.59% from February's total but lagging -9.73% behind the March 2019 result. Through the first three months of this year, Japanese steelmakers have produced 24.36 million metric tons of raw steel -2.4% versus the comparable period of last year.

The U.S. steel industry produced 7.2 million metric tons (7.94 million short tons) of raw steel during March 2020, 2.19% more than during February but -6.04% less than during March 2019. The January-March 2020 raw-steel output for the U.S. is 21.946 million metric tons (24.19 million short tons), -1.0% less than last year's three-month total.

The World Steel Assn.'s report is a monthly summary of raw steel output in 64 countries: "Raw steel" is the product of basic-oxygen or electric arc furnaces, and cast into semi-finished forms like billets for bar and rod products; slabs for flat products; or blooms, for beam and pipe products. The report cover carbon steel only; stainless and specialty steel producers comprise a separate market.