EU Steel Price Revival Expected in Early 2018

Strip mill product basis prices were stable in most northern European markets, in December, according to the latest edition of MEPS European Steel Review. However, Italian figures weakened and Spanish buyers accepted a small increase. Regional producers continue to promote further rises, in order to achieve their new target values. They remain confident that these can be implemented in early 2018. An ongoing lack of attractive third country offers should help to support the producers’ proposals.

Demand slowed because of the approaching Christmas holiday. Moreover, many companies reduce their inventories ahead of their financial year-end. Service centre buyers were loath to pay more as their resale values do not always cover, even current, replacement costs.

Near-record growth was noted in Germany’s manufacturing sector, in November. The steel sector, however, was quiet, in early December, with demand likely to remain subdued until after the new year. Distributors are living off their inventories and not looking to rebuild their stocks until 2018. Trade defence measures have led to the curtailment of import volumes. Moreover, prices were uncompetitive, in December.

Strip mill product prices were stable, in France, this month. Buyers believe that the trend will be slightly positive at the beginning of next year. Delivery lead times are extending and limited quantities of material are available. Activity slowed, in late November, particularly in the distribution sector.

Italy’s manufacturing sector recorded substantial improvement during November. Nevertheless, steel demand slowed considerably, ahead of the Christmas vacation period, undermining mills’ efforts to retain November price levels. Suppliers continue to talk of increases for first trimester 2018 business. Service centres report that a number of their customers are only purchasing small quantities at any one time, suspecting that prices may go lower. Import opportunities are few.

UK sales of strip mill products are quite slow, at the moment. Customers are holding off making purchasing decisions for as long as possible as they try to ignore the steelmakers’ price hike proposals. Distributors report that their resale values are insufficient to meet the increases suggested for the first quarter of 2018. Inventories at the service centres are down slightly from those in late summer. Port stocks are also reduced.

Resistance from buyers, regarding further rises for January/February 2018, was noted in the Belgian market, in December. Demand is relatively slow due to the approaching Christmas holiday but underlying consumption remains good. Service centres are required to reduce stocks before the year-end. This resulted in a number of low resale offers.

The rate of growth in Spanish manufacturing output grew for the third successive month, in November, reaching its highest point since May 2015. Steel demand is reasonably good. In December, large distributors settled for their January/February 2018 deliveries, conceding a rise for strip mill products. Resale values continue to be problematic. The weakness of the US dollar has made third country import offers more competitive, of late.

Source: MEPS – European Steel Review – December 2017 Issue

MEPS Predicts a Positive Outlook for EU Steel

The rapid recovery in EU steel prices, in 2016 and 2017, is expected to be maintained in the following year.

A negative price adjustment is, however, anticipated in the final year of the decade as raw material costs come under negative pressure.

A period of optimism is anticipated during the early part of the next decade. Slow but steady improvement in steel selling values is predicted in the subsequent years to reach an eleven-year high in 2022.

Source: MEPS International Ltd

Continuous bloom caster modernized by Primetals Technologies receives FAC from Zenith Steel, China

  • Upgrade allows the casting of an additional bloom format
  • Expands the range of products at Zenith

In November, Chinese steel producer Changzhou Zhongtian Iron & Steel (Zenith Steel) awarded the final acceptance certificate (FAC) for a continuous bloom casting machine modernized by Primetals Technologies. The caster has an annual production of around 1.3 million metric tons of blooms with both round and square cross-sections. The objective of the modernization was to be able to cast an additional blank format with a rectangular cross-section of 280 x 320 millimeters. The blooms are then further processed into round bars in the company’s own rolling mill, which has been specially adapted for this purpose.

Zenith Steel is privately owned and operates an integrated steel mill in Changzhou in the Jiangsu province of China. The company’s steel mill has a production capacity of more than ten million metric tons of steel per year. Zenith Steel manufactures a wide range of end products, including steel pipes, bearing and spring steel, and various structural steels. Blooms with diameters of 400 and 500 millimeters are further processed into seamless pipes, while those with a diameter of 600 millimeters are used in the production of forging steels. The rectangular blooms are used for the manufacture of round bar steels.

In the course of the latest modernization, Primetals Technologies was responsible for the engineering of the mold required for the additional format and of the first two segments of the strand guide. The company also supplied new spray nozzles and side guides. In addition, the straightening unit, the dummy bars and the run-out area were adapted. Primetals Technologies also supervised the commissioning process. In a statement, Mr. Ren Zong Yi (任宗义), Project manager Zenith, highlighted the professional  cooperation with Primetals Technologies.

The five-strand caster originally constructed by Primetals Technologies and first put into service in July 2013 was designed for the production of round blooms between 400 and 600 millimeters in diameter, as well as rectangular blooms with a cross-section of 370 x 490 millimeters. At a casting speed of up to 0.8 meters per minute, structural steels, high-carbon, alloy and low-alloy steels as well as pipe-grade steels can be cast. The continuous caster has a casting-bow radius of 14 meters and a metallurgical length of 32 meters. It is equipped with a curved mold, the DynaFlex hydraulic mold oscillator, and the LevCon mold level control. The drawing unit for rectangular blooms consists of seven drive units and operates with DynaGap Soft Reduction. This prevents center segregations and ensures a homogenous internal quality of the blooms.

Primetals Technologies engineered the continuous caster, supplied key components and technology packages, the complete basic and process automation, as well as the VAIQ quality management system. The scope of supply also included consultation services during construction and commissioning, as well as customer training.

Source: Primetal Technologies

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Primetals Technologies supplies ERT-EBROS billet welding system for rolling mill of Ferriera Valsabbia

  • Welded billets permit endless rolling with high product quality
  • Considerable boost in plant output and utilization levels
  • First use of ERT-EBROS in Italy

Italian steel producer Ferriera Valsabbia S.p.A. has placed an order with Primetals Technologies to supply ERT-EBROS endless rolling technology for the company’s existing bar rolling mill in Odolo, Brescia province. The aim is to boost plant output and utilization levels. The system welds together billets intended for rolling, thus enabling a continuous rolling process with a consistently high product quality. The new ERT-EBROS plant is scheduled to commence operation in September 2018. It is the first ERT-EBROS system in Italy.

Primetals Technologies is responsible for the project engineering as well as for assembly and commissioning supervision of the new equipment, and will be supplying the ERT-EBROS billet welding system, including a deburring station, extraction system and complementary equipment such as pinch roll, shear and roller table. The ERT-EBROS system will be designed for an annual production capacity of 900,000 metric tons. The scope of supply also includes the fluid systems, the electrical equipment and automation system and also technology packages for controlling the welding. An induction furnace installed before the rolling train will make up for temperature losses.

Established in 1954, privately owned Ferriera Valsabbia operates an EAF-based minimill with a production capacity of some 900,000 metric tons per year of billets and bars for concrete reinforcement (rebars). It is among the largest rebar producers in Italy. The bar rolling mill was realized by Primetals Technologies in 2007/2008. This included the installation of a hot-charging system for billets as well as a system for single-bar high-speed delivery that allows rolling speeds of up to 29 meters per second in two-slit rolling mode. The mill is designed to process low-carbon steel billets with a square cross-section of 150 x 150 (160 x 160 in the future) millimeters and length of 9 meters. This results in rebars with diameters of between 8 and 40 millimeters. In two-slit rolling mode, the bar diameters from 8 to 20 millimeters can be realized.

The ERT-EBROS system welds consecutive billets together so that, once joined in this way, they can be processed in an endless rolling process. This increases output, cutting the time otherwise taken by two billets between rolling. Utilization of cooling bed capacity can be enhanced and production of customized coil weights is also possible. ERT-EBROS is installed between the reheating furnace and the first roll stand and uses a flash welding process with fast and intensive heating. This results in solid-state joining of the billets without the need for additional filler metal. A dynamic flash control system helps to control all the process parameters in real time and thus ensures high joint quality as well as reduced energy consumption and material loss.

After welding and head upsetting, joints are deburred on a self-cleaning deburring station. The deburring machine operates independently of the welding unit and so the cycle time is not increased. Active spatter protection protects the mechanical and electrical equipment from steel spatters. This is crucial for process quality, extends components’ useful lives and facilitates maintenance. The core of the electrical system is the integrated high-frequency transformers. These compact components are extremely reliable and can perform an indefinite number of welding operations without maintenance. Each transformer is equipped with diodes that convert the high-frequency square-wave voltage into a stable, extremely flat DC voltage. The square-wave voltage is generated by converters with which the current can be controlled ten times faster than with thyristor circuits. A stable voltage and short control times are essential for a stable and repeatable process flow.

Source: Primetals Technologies