FALLING RAW MATERIAL COSTS DEPRESS STAINLESS STEEL PRICES IN 2015

The past year has been another difficult period for stainless steel producers, distributors and traders, in all parts of the world, according to MEPS.

In December’s issue of the Stainless Steel Review, MEPS reports that consumption has failed to grow by any substantial degree and selling prices have plummeted, driven by falling raw material costs.

The major factor in the reduction in input expenditure has been the decline in nickel values. During the past twelve months, the price of nickel, in common with those of most other traded commodities, has described a generally downward curve. The LME cash figure for the metal has dropped from over US$15500 per tonne, one year ago, to US$8650 per tonne, in recent days. This represents a decrease of around 44 percent.

The nickel price has been undermined, in part, by the unprecedentedly high level of LME inventory. The official daily figure rose from 410,000 tonnes in December 2014 to reach a peak of over 470,000 tonnes in June of this year. Stocks steadily reduced thereafter, reaching a low of around 393,000 tonnes, earlier this month. However, a recent influx of material took the total over 438,000 tonnes, a few days ago.

The costs of the other major raw materials have also fallen. The price paid by US mills for chromium has decreased by around 10 percent in the past twelve months, while the cost of scrap, used in the American producers’ alloy surcharge calculations, has dropped by 56 percent.

As a result, the December 2015 alloy surcharge for grade 304 flat products, in the United States, is 46 percent lower than the figure one year earlier. This contributes to a transaction value for 304 cold rolled coil that is around 37 percent less than last December’s price.

The mill selling figures for the same product, in US dollar terms, have fallen by 32 percent, in China, and by nearly 25 percent, in the EU, compared with twelve months ago.

The persistent negative trend in stainless steel selling values has created very troublesome business conditions for all participants in the supply chain – producers, distributors, stockholders, service centres and traders.

The winners have been the multiplicity of OEMs that incorporate items which require corrosion- or heat-resisting properties.

Source: MEPS – Stainless Steel Review – December Issue

GLOBAL STEEL PRICES CONTINUE TO SLIDE IN DECEMBER

International steel prices remained under pressure, in December, due to sluggish global demand and high inventories.

In the recent issue of the International Steel Review, MEPS reported that world steel prices slipped further across flat and long product areas.

In North America, flat prices continued to weaken amid lacklustre demand domestically while a strong US dollar hampered exports. Buyers are delaying purchases as they prioritise their year-end stock positions.

Chinese spot prices have reached record lows with local producers selling excess stock at discounted prices. With demand slowing down domestically, China continues to pitch its exports at remarkably low prices. Subsequently, steel mills have cut domestic selling values in Taiwan and South Korea.

However, US flat prices may have bottomed out as many domestic steel mills have announced price increases for the first quarter. At this stage, it is unclear whether the price hikes will be accepted by the market.

Source: MEPS International Steel Review – December Issue

BRIC STEEL PRICES CONTINUE TO FALL IN DECEMBER

Steel prices in BRIC countries have slipped by an average of around 4 percent, in December.

In the recent issue of the Developing Markets’ Steel Review, MEPS reported that market activity across the developing world has softened across flat and long products areas. Amid a weak demand outlook, buyers have put further downward pressure on domestic selling prices as sales slow down, approaching year-end.

In Brazil, domestic producers have called for higher tariffs for imported material to protect market share. Meanwhile, reduced investment activity and sluggish domestic sales continued to dominate the Russian steel scene.

Chinese steel prices keep tumbling as falling raw material costs have enabled customers to secure reductions in their local market.

Low-priced imported material has put further downward pressure on South African domestic resale prices. Meanwhile, Mexican stockists have successfully secured lower transaction values following similar price reductions in the US.

Source: MEPS – Developing Markets Steel Review – December Edition

Nucor Nebraska selects Primetals Technologies to upgrade coil handling system

  • Replacement system to improve quality of bar-in-coil products
  • New product applications to expand markets for combination mill
  • Contract includes mechanical and electrical engineering innovations

The combination bar-in-coil and rod mill at Nucor Nebraska will have upgraded coil handling equipment designed and installed by Primetals Technologies in September 2016. The plant, located in Norfolk, Nebraska, annually produces 900,000 tons of long products for several markets such as agriculture, heavy equipment, industrial machinery, construction, oil and gas, rail and automotive. The new equipment will improve the cooling process to produce higher quality steel rods for expanded Nucor customer markets.

The contract scope includes the supply of a continuously rotating shear, coil receiving equipment with a coil plate, pallet system conveyor, transfer and cooling equipment, automation for all new equipment and an updated automation system for Nucor’s existing pallet system and compactor, and installation and commissioning supervision. Nucor has been a longstanding customer of Primetals Technologies, which most recently upgraded a pinch roll, laying head and reform tub in the Norfolk mill’s rod outlet.

A Fortune 500 company, Nucor is the largest manufacturer of steel products in North America, with approximately 200 operating facilities, including wholly owned subsidiaries Harris Steel, The David J. Joseph Company, and Skyline Steel, producing more than 21.1 million tons per year. Products include: carbon and alloy steel — in bars, beams, sheet and plate; steel piling; steel joists and joist girders; steel deck; fabricated concrete reinforcing steel; cold finished steel; steel fasteners; metals building systems; steel grating and expanded metal; and wire and wire mesh. Nucor is North America’s largest recycler.

Source: Primetals Technologies
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NORDIC STEEL PRICES CONTINUE TO TUMBLE IN DECEMBER

Nordic steel prices for flat and long products continue to fall sharply due to weak activity levels amid the traditional end-of-year slowdown.

In December’s issue of the European Steel Review Supplement, MEPS reports that reduced activity is putting further negative pressure on domestic selling prices. Buyers are reportedly delaying purchases as they prioritise their year-end stock positions.

Significant price drops are reported for flat products as low-priced plate from non-EU sources continues to soften domestic resale prices.

In the long products market, prices continued to tumble as market activity remained sluggish. Many Nordic stockists have announced extended breaks either side of Christmas.

Source: European Steel Review Supplement – December Edition

Primetals Technologies receives final acceptance for wire rod mill upgrade from OneSteel in Australia

  • Water cooling line and laying head improvements increase mill utilization, reduce maintenance, improve product qualityRolling speed for smaller diameters increased by more than 10%
  • Reduced coil height and better compacted coil shape
  • Pipe support design incorporates new SR Series laying head pipe technology

Primetals Technologies has received the final acceptance certificate from OneSteel Market Mills in Australia for installed upgrades at its Laverton Wire Rod Mill. Improvements to the water cooling line and laying head have already resulted in higher finishing speeds on small diameter products. Overall effects of the upgrade are expected to boost the single-strand rod mill’s competitive position in the market.

The water cooling line was upgraded with a Morgan Water Box system, which included three traversing boxes, with split water box nozzles and a header design that ensured alignment of the pass line. A set of skid-mounted valves for each water box incorporated high-speed divert valves to minimize uncooled rings. An Enhanced Temperature Control System (ETCS) with recipes and closed-loop temperature control was installed to control the cooling process. Provisions were made in the layout of the water cooling line for an additional cooling box to meet future needs. The laying head was upgraded with a new design pipe support that incorporates the SR Series laying head pipe technology.

After only four weeks of shutdown time, both the new water boxes and the laying head upgrade were installed and running. As production resumed, mill operators immediately saw performance improvements. More efficient water box cooling has resulted in lower laying head temperatures which improved scale conditions on finished rod, decreasing downstream scale losses by 35 percent on average. Nozzle replacement cycles went from four sizes to two. The ETCS has improved overall yield by reducing uncooled front ends and providing consistent temperature throughout the coil.

The mill can now roll faster on small sizes, with speeds increasing from 90 m/s to 102 m/s on 5.5 mm rod and from 90 m/s to 100 m/s on 6.0 mm rod. There has been significant improvement in ring pattern consistency on the cooling conveyor. The post-upgrade coil package has seen coil height reductions of 50 to 100 mm and a better compacted shape.

OneSteel is Australia’s premier manufacturer of steel long products and is a leading metals distribution company in Australia and New Zealand. It has a significant presence in Australian steel as an integrated manufacturer of steel and finished steel products. The company manufactures and distributes a wide range of steel products including hot rolled structural sections, rail, rod, bar, wire and structural pipe and RHS products, and distributes sheet and coil, plate and aluminum products.

SR Series is a registered trademark of Primetals Technologies in certain countries.

Source: Primetals Technologies

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