Qingdao Iron and Steel orders SBQ rolling mill from SMS group

Qingdao Iron and Steel, based in Qingdao, Shandong province, China, has placed an order with SMS group to supply an SBQ (Special Bar Quality) rolling mill. The mill has an annual production capacity of 700,000 tons of special steel. Qingdao is thereby expanding its product portfolio to include high-quality special steels for use in the automotive industry.

Quingdao erhält von SMS einen 3-Walzen Maßwalzblock vom Typ „PSM 380/5“.
“We were impressed by the SMS concept and technical know-how from the very beginning. This special steel mill will enable us to enhance our leading market position even further,” says Liu Tieniu, Deputy General Manager of Qingdao Iron and Steel who is responsible for the construction of the new plant.

SMS is supplying the plant’s core technology, including an up-to-date 3-roll sizing block of type PSM® (Precision Sizing Mill) 380/5, which is capable of rolling all finished dimensions from 16 up to 90 millimeters in diameter.

Thanks to its system of hydraulic adjustment under load, all dimensions can be produced cost-efficiently on the basis of customers’ individual requirements, including even small batch sizes. The 3-roll PSM® is equipped with a MEERgauge® cross-section measuring system and “monitor control technology”. This allows corrections to be made to the finished dimensions while production is still ongoing.

The plant was specially designed for the temperature-controlled rolling of bars. With its ultra-modern cooling sections, five-stand 3-roll PSM® customized cooling processes and high cross-sectional reduction capability, Qingdao is able to produce high-quality end products with excellent mechanical properties and narrow tolerances at the same time.

The full package of supplies and services is rounded off by the CCT® (Controlled Cooling Technology) system, which was developed by SMS and is used to adjust and control the requisite cooling processes. This ensures that the mechanical properties, such as the tensile strength and toughness as well as the desired microstructure of the end product, are precisely attained. The cooling bed and associated downstream equipment, designed by SMS group, are tailored to the required cooling processes. This includes an integrated quick transport system. The plant design already takes into account the future expansion of the plant to include a coiling line.

Commissioning is scheduled for the third quarter of 2015.

Source: SMS Meer GmbH

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Primetals Technologies wins order for Mulpic intensive cooling system from Baosteel Zhanjiang

Higher cooling rates and accurate cooling control reduce flatness defects

First system with individual header control for Direct Quench and Accelerated Cooling modes over entire length of cooling line

Chinese producer Baosteel Zhanjiang Iron & Steel Co. Ltd. has ordered a new Mulpic (Multi-Purpose Interrupted Cooling) system from Primetals Technologies. The intensive cooling system will be installed in the company’s existing plate rolling mill which is currently being re-located from Shanghai to Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province, and is scheduled to be operational in March 2016. The Mulpic system facilitates higher cooling rates and accurate cooling control, resulting in plates with uniform metallurgical properties and reduced flatness defects.

Baosteel Group Corporation is one of the largest iron and steel conglomerates in the world and was established in November 1998. Its annual steel production amounted to approximately 44 million metric tons in 2013. Baosteel produces high quality products for the domestic and international market. Baosteel Zhanjiang Iron & Steel Co. Ltd became part of the group in 2012.

The Mulpic system ordered by Baosteel is the most advanced supplied to date and will incorporate the latest Mulpic control software along with cutting-edge flow control valves developed by Primetals Technologies. The system will also be the first Mulpic to incorporate individual header control for both direct quenching (DQ) and accelerated cooling (ACC) modes of operation along the complete length of the cooling machine. The new Mulpic system will replace an existing accelerated cooling system that cannot achieve Baosteel’s future requirements for the re-located plant and will provide increased cooling rates and more accurate cooling control.

Source: Primetals.com

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North American Stainless orders stainless steel cold rolling mill and bright annealing line from SMS group

North American Stainless (NAS), U.S.A., a subsidiary of the Spanish Acerinox Group, has contracted SMS group (www.sms-group.com) for the supply of a 20-roll cold rolling mill and a bright annealing line. NAS is erecting a modern, high-performance production facility for bright-annealed stainless steel strip in Ghent, in the U.S. state of Kentucky. The installed plants will be characterized by high efficiency, flexibility and product quality. The output capacity of the plant will amount to 95,000 tons per year. Commissioning will take place in early 2017.

With this investment, NAS is entering the market for bright-annealed stainless steel. For this material, which is partly imported, there is a market of stable growth in the U.S.A. The cold-rolled stainless steel strip of surface quality BA is characterized by a shiny, reflective appearance. The typical areas of application are household appliances and kitchen utensils. Furthermore, the material is used in many other areas where, in addition to the material properties of stainless steel, high-grade, reflective surfaces are required, for example, in medical engineering and in the transportation industry.

The new plants will manufacture both austenitic and ferritic grades (AISI 200, 300 and 400 series). The end material will be between 600 and 1,350 millimeters wide, and between 0.15 and 1.5 millimeters thick. In addition to the supply of the mechanical, process, furnace, electrical and automation equipment, also the supervision of installation, commissioning support and training of the operating personnel belong to the contract scope. The complete strip steering systems will be supplied by EMG Automation.

The 20-roll cold rolling mill, a Monoblock mill of type MB 22B-54″, will process up to 6.2-millimeter-thick hot strip. The compact and robust plant is characterized by high millstand stiffness. With a maximum rolling speed of 800 meters per minute and a maximum rolling force of 8,000 kN, thickness reductions of up to 90 percent can be achieved. The millstand will be equipped with hydraulic gap control and roll-crown adjustment systems for the B/C and F/G axes and with inner intermediate roll shifting. Also the auxiliary and service facilities are part of the supply scope. For example, the 100 percent regenerative Supafine filter system will ensure environmentally friendly purification and cooling of the rolling oil. The fume exhaust system will also contribute to environmentally friendly plant operation, as it meets the most stringent environmental requirements imposed by the local authorities. In order to reduce non-productive times, an uncoiling group with straightener and crop shear will be integrated in addition to the two reversing coilers.

The bright annealing line will be the highest-performance of its kind in the U.S.A. Here the cold rolled strip will first be cleaned from rolling oil and other contaminants in a two-stage cleaning section. This will be followed by recrystallization annealing in an oxygen-free, inert atmosphere with a high hydrogen content, creating a high-grade, reflective strip surface. A four-high skin pass mill will be integrated into the line for post-treatment, improving not only the surface and flatness of the strips but, thanks to low strain hardening, also the metallurgical characteristics. The downstream tension leveler will perfect the strip flatness. In addition to tension leveling, in case of thin-gage strip, this plant can also operate as a pure stretcher. Subsequently, the strip can be trimmed on both sides. In the entry and exit sections, the strip will achieve a maximum speed of 75 meters per minute, while the maximum speed in the process section will be 50 meters per minute.

The technological highlight of the bright annealing line is the entirely electrically powered vertical furnace from Drever, a company of SMS group. Thanks to the furnace’s high operating efficiency, the energy consumption, at approx. 220 kilowatt hours per ton, is 60 percent lower than in a conventional design with a muffle furnace. Furthermore, the shorter heating section enables the bay height to be reduced by 50 percent. The high efficiency is achieved by means of direct heating via electrical heating elements and dynamic annealing at up to 1,250 degrees Celsius. The annealing process takes place in a pressurized inert atmosphere (up to 90 percent hydrogen). This ensures a low dew point and produces an immaculately reflective surface. A special strip stabilization system allows contactless positioning of the strip, preventing surface damage. The total furnace construction is made gas tight. Special sealing elements at the entry and exit minimize losses. In order to keep the hydrogen requirement low, a recycling unit will be integrated to condition the used hydrogen and return it to the process. For strip cooling, the furnace will be fitted with two inert gas recirculation units. To maximize production and minimize resource consumption, all process parameters will be adjusted automatically based on a mathematical model.

Source: SMS Group

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US STEEL PRICE ROUNDUP FROM MEPS INTERNATIONAL LTD

Although US hot rolled coil customers were, initially, sceptical regarding the price hike announcements, recent settlements have reflected an increase, according to MEPS. Buyers report that delivery lead times are now well into June and suppliers are pushing for further rises beyond that date.

Hot rolled plate transaction values continue to deteriorate. However, mills report an uptick in demand in recent weeks due to declining inventories and stronger customer needs. Current delivery lead times, however, remain at four weeks. Meanwhile import volumes have slowed.

The negative price trend, for cold rolled coil, has been halted. Local mills have successfully negotiated a rise. Buyers are less keen to purchase from overseas whilst the authorities contemplate trade action. Many market players expect cases to be filed shortly. Service centre stocks are still overbuilt, but are reducing.

US auto demand is stable at a high level. Construction activity continues to improve but remains well below potential. Appliance makers have noticed a flattening in demand as a result of the strong US dollar. Coated steel transaction values reached the bottom in late April and are now moving up.

Sales of beams have still to pick up, despite better signals from the non-residential construction sector. Import availability is plentiful.

Rebar import prices are moving up. However, domestic transaction numbers have declined during recent settlements. Demand from the residential construction market is slow to improve.

Service centre sales of merchant bar have declined considerably compared with 2014 as agricultural and mining demand has fallen away. The domestic mills are carrying surplus stock. Imports from Turkey have slowed in recent months but supplies from Mexico are plentiful.

Source: MEPS International Steel Review – May Issue

CHINESE STEEL PRICES FAST BECOMING BENCHMARK VALUES IN MANY NEGOTIATIONS

Chinese steelmakers are expanding their influence in the global market at a rapid pace. Most carbon steel products exported from China are, no longer, considered to be significantly inferior to local material for the majority of applications. The delivered price for Chinese material is becoming a key reference figure when negotiating new deals in many parts of the world. This is particularly true in Asian countries.

The initiative, when negotiating steel prices, is being wrested from the local/regional steelmakers. Now in western countries, the price of Chinese imports often forms part of price discussions for domestic supply. This should not be surprising when total annual steel exports of finished steel products from China, have risen by almost 65 million tonnes in the past five years – up from 17.2 million tonnes in 2009 to 81.8 million tonnes in 2014.

A significant proportion of this extra material has been scheduled for supply to Asian destinations. However, in many parts of that region, Chinese imported material is an ever present threat to the profitability of the local steel producers.

To illustrate this point, in the five years between 2009 and 2014, China’s total steel exports of finished steel products have grown from 3.2 to 10.2 percent of production, over the period. The growth in Chinese steel exports, as a proportion of apparent steel consumption, was even more dramatic – rising from 3.2 to 11.1 percent in the same time span.

In the first four months of 2015, the export tonnage from Chinese mills continued to rise. Its influence on the global market will intensify in future years. The Chinese steel industry is expanding at a pace which is substantially above the rate of growth in domestic demand. This fact will need to be given serious consideration for all steelmakers contemplating new capital investment, wherever they are located.

Source: MEPS China Steel Review – May Edition

MEPS PREDICTS A STAINLESS STEEL PRICE UPTURN OVER NEXT TWELVE MONTHS

The current condition and short-term outlook for the stainless steel market is rather mixed. Demand varies by sector. Sales to the automotive supply chain remain quite buoyant, as they have been fairly consistent in recent years. On the other hand, investment in the oil industry is very depressed, as it has been since commodity oil values started to fall, last year. Activity in other stainless steel-consuming segments is patchy, with geographical pockets of optimism dotted around the world.

European stainless steel strip mills have rapidly-filling rolling schedules. Delivery lead times are stretching and there are murmurs of possible short supply in the autumn. Producers have achieved small basis price increases, this month, and further increments are mooted. However, these minor adjustments are almost insignificant in the light of the much larger fluctuations in alloy surcharges.

After falling in the previous month, a short-lived recovery in LME nickel values in late April and early May resulted in alloy extras for grade 304 material climbing again for June. The nickel commodity price has been on a downward trend again in recent weeks.

Many market observers predicted rising nickel values, this year, with the long-standing global supply surplus finally turning to a deficit. The main driver for this was expected to be China’s increasing demand for refined nickel, as that country’s stainless steel production continued to expand. Meanwhile, its supply of nickel pig iron (NPI) would be restricted by Indonesia’s ban on the export of laterite ores.

In reality, China’s output growth has decreased, in 2015, and the depletion of its Indonesian ore stocks has been slowed by blending, in the NPI production process, with inferior ore from the Philippines.

Furthermore, nickel prices are being held down by the very high level of LME inventories. The, already record high, stock figures were augmented, earlier this year, when material was moved into LME-listed warehouses, from other Chinese stores, following the Qingdao fraud scandal. Speculators are unlikely to support higher prices while such inflated stock levels persist.

Nevertheless, nickel miners continue to forecast the emergence of a deficit in supply in the short-to-medium term. This would result in a modest upward trend in nickel values during the coming twelve months.

Source: MEPS – Stainless Steel Review – May Issue