Raw Material Hikes Prompt Stainless Steel Recovery

The recent upturn in raw material values has spurred stainless steel producers to introduce price increases – in some cases, over and above the amount necessary to cover the rise in mill input costs.

LME nickel values have been on an upward trend, since early January. Nevertheless, the increase was insufficient to bring about an uptick in European alloy surcharges for austenitic stainless steels, in February. This, because costs for chromium, molybdenum and steel scrap fell, during the calculation reference period.

This means that the surcharges for nickel-bearing grades, in Europe, had decreased for seven consecutive months. During this time, nominal basis values – the difference between the effective price and the alloy surcharge – having plummeted in the first half of 2018, as surcharges soared, failed to recover in the manner that market participants expected.

However, while alloy extras dropped again in February, effective prices for austenitic flat products, in Europe, remained stable or, in a few cases, increased. This represents an upturn in nominal basis figures. Alloy surcharges will rise again, in March, and European producers are predicted to push for further price hikes, in excess of the changes to alloy extras. This turnaround has been anticipated for some time, as mills have been selling at values which were, clearly, not covering their production costs.

In the United States, the leading stainless steelmaker, North American Stainless, recently announced basis price increases, for bars and hot rolled plates, effective March 1. However, no such proposal has been made, at the time of writing, with regards to coil products. US producers have less requirement for price increases than their European counterparts, because trade measures, such as antidumping duties and Section 232 quotas and tariffs, have kept US domestic values at a relatively high level.

Chinese market prices, which tend to respond quickly to changes in raw material costs, took a positive turn, in February, following the Lunar New Year celebrations. Stainless steel producers in South Korea and Taiwan, achieved moderate hikes, for February contracts. Their intentions to seek further increases, in March negotiations, have already been indicated. Japanese market values have been stable, for many months. Local suppliers’ efforts to apply increases met with very limited success, in February. However, MEPS expects them to continue to press for price increments, in the coming months.

Source: MEPS Stainless Steel Review

Primetals Technologies receives final acceptance for modernized continuous slab caster at Angang Iron & Steel

  • Modernization improves productivity and product quality
  • Greater flexibility for product mix and casting formats
  • Casting machine was revamped within just 30 days
  • Fast project implementation minimized downtimes
  • 1,700 heats equaling approximately 348,000 tons processed from start-up to FAC

In December 2018, Primetals Technologies received the Final acceptance Certificate (FAC) for the modernized two-strand continuous slab caster CCM1 in steel works no. 3 of Angang Iron & Steel Group Co. in Anshan, China. The caster was started-up in late October 2018 and processed more than 1,700 heats equaling approximately 348,000 tons within less than two months. The objectives of the project were to improve the product quality and productivity, and also to increase the flexibility of the processing of different steel grades and casting formats. The casting plant is equipped with modern equipment and technology packages, including DynaGap Soft Reduction to improve the interior quality of the slabs. In order to minimize shutdown times, the project planning attached particular importance to a quick implementation: the casting machine was revamped within just 30 days.

Angang Iron & Steel Group Co. is located in Anshan in Liaoning Province. It has an annual production of approximately 35.8 million metric tons (2017), and is one of China’s leading steel producers. Steel works no. 3 in Anshan employs a conversion route through a basic oxygen converter, ladle furnace and RH plant. It has an annual capacity of five million metric tons and supplies two casting plants. Continuous slab caster CCM2 has already been modernized by Primetals Technologies and has been back in successful operation since July 2015.

The two-strand continuous slab caster CCM1 in steel works no. 3 has a production capacity of 2.5 million metric tons per annum. Its machine radius is nine meters and metallurgical length 36 meters. The caster produces slabs with a thickness of 230 millimeters in widths ranging from 990 to 1,550 millimeters. The maximum casting speed is 2.1 meters per minute. The plant casts ultra-low carbon to high carbon steels, peritectic, deep drawn and HSLA steels, as well as micro-alloyed, low-alloyed and silicon steels.

The modernization project included equipping continuous slab caster CCM1 with a new tundish car and a new tundish with LevCon mold level control. The straight cassette-type Smart Mold is equipped with the Mold Expert breakout detection system, DynaWidth for automatic width adjustment, and the DynaFlex mold oscillator. Bender and Smart Segments as well as I-Star rollers are used in the strand-guiding system.

The Dynacs secondary cooling system dynamically calculates and controls the temperature profile along the entire strand. This enables the working points of the strand cooling, and thus the final strand solidification, to be determined precisely as a function of the casting speed, slab format and steel grade. DynaGap Soft Reduction is used to improve the interior quality of the slabs. The roll gap is dynamically adjusted during the final solidification in accordance with the operating points calculated by Dynacs. This minimizes segregation in the center of the strand. The secondary cooling uses DynaJet spray cooling with a center/margin setting.

In addition, Primetals Technologies handled the basic engineering of the tundish, the ladle shroud, the dummy bar system, the supporting structure and the maintenance stands, as well as the detailed engineering for the shroud manipulator, the tundish car, mold and mold oscillator, the segments of the strand-guiding system, the secondary cooling and the dummy bar. The automation system and the consulting services for the construction and commissioning were also part of the order.

Source: Primetals Technologies

Challenging Trading Conditions Persist in the Emerging Steel Markets

Brazil

Downstream demand for finished steel products is tepid, in Brazil. Steel production is, so far, unaffected by the restriction imposed on output from Vale’s iron ore mines. Stockists are adamant that any move by domestic steel suppliers to pursue price growth would be counterproductive and stifle what little buying interest exists. Meanwhile, the Instituto Nacional dos Distribuidores de Aço (Inda) reports that, in January 2019, domestic flat rolled finished steel sales totalled 228,600 tonnes – down 19.5 percent, compared with last year’s figure. The association is projecting that distributor and service centre sales will be stable at best, this month.

Russia

Procurement tonnages in the Russian Federation are tepid. Price conscious steel traders highlight that current transaction values reflect the price demands of their suppliers rather than market fundamentals. The situation has been exacerbated by a rebound in prices for export quotations. Distributors are reluctant to confirm forward orders owing to fears of a weak construction season. Traditionally, the country’s inhospitable winter season ends in mid-April.

India

Indian stockists have been highly critical of the pricing strategies employed by their domestic suppliers. Mills are concentrating on winning compulsory local purchases from public sector undertakings. End-users plan to closely monitor the price premium charged by the local producers relative to imports, before deciding where to purchase. Project-completion is traditionally expedited before the end of the current financial year. Conditions in overseas markets are difficult.

Ukraine

In Ukraine, buying activity is restricted by seasonal factors and credit limitations. Service centres are reviewing their inventories and are extremely cautious about order placement. Traditionally, the construction season commences in mid-April. Overseas business is very competitive.

Turkey

Price volatility is eroding market sentiment, in Turkey. Local traders have questioned the sustainability of the current transaction values – citing that price support is limited amid low enquiry rates. We note a reluctance on the part of end-users to commit to forward orders. Speculation is rife that local steelmakers will push for higher prices, in March. Exporters note that overseas buyers are reluctant to place orders.

United Arab Emirates

Purchasing volumes in the United Arab Emirates are forecast to be stable, at best, in the next trading period. State-funded capital projects and infrastructure spending has been inhibited by the downturn in crude oil revenues. In March, many buyers at service centres plan to use Asian finished steel offers as a price barometer to push for lower quotations from their other foreign suppliers.

South Africa

Business confidence is eroding in the South African steel market. Construction activity is flat, with minimal signs of growth. Distributors and traders are sceptical regarding whether buying activity will pick up, in March. Several of these firms are facing tight profit margins and working capital problems. Inventories are quite high for several product types.

Source: MEPS Developing Markets Steel Review – February Issue

Global Steel Prices Expected to Rebound

The downward trend in global steel prices continued, in February. North American and European flat product steelmakers failed in their attempts to secure any of their tabled increases. The consensus view, from MEPS’ February research, is that the bottom may soon be reached, in both regions. Sentiment is, generally, turning positive – with the market showing potential to stabilise, or rise slightly, in the coming months.

World steel manufacturers are likely to be supported in their efforts to lift values, by the improving market fundamentals. Rising raw material expenditure and the expectation of improved activity, during the traditionally stronger second trimester, will assist the mills’ cause for higher prices. 

With the exception of material in North America, scrap expenditure has started to increase, worldwide. At the same time, iron ore costs rose, due to supply-side fears – resulting from the recent dam collapse in Brazil. Market participants are hopeful that demand from the European and North American automotive sector will pick up, in the coming months. Moreover, construction activity will be boosted, by seasonal factors. In addition, the continued impact of the Section 232 trade legislation and the recently introduced EU safeguard measures will offer US and European steel manufacturers a degree of protection from increased import volumes. 

Improved demand, in Asia, due to restocking activity following the Lunar New Year, is expected to lead to a modest pricing uptick across the region, in the coming months. However, the medium-term demand prospects are, generally, less clear – with Asian economies, in particular, China, expected to slow down, in 2019. 

Heightened trade tensions, notably, between the US and China, plus the UK’s exit from the European Union, are causing a great deal of uncertainty among global steel buyers. MEPS forecasts that any reversal of pricing fortunes, in Europe and North America, is likely to be modest and short-lived.

Source: MEPS International Steel Review

Primetals Technologies receives FAC from Severstal for ladle furnace supplied to Cherepovets converter steel works

  • Twin ladle furnace treats 4.8 million metric tons of liquid steel per annum
  • High degree of automation through Level 2 process models
  • Production capacity of converter steel works increases to almost 10.3 million metric tons per annum
  • Consolidation of liquid steel treatment significantly reduces operating costs

Russian steel producer PAO Severstal issued the Final Acceptance Certificate for a new twin ladle furnace supplied by Primetals Technologies to the converter steel works in Cherepovets. The ladle furnace is able to treat 375 metric ton charges of liquid steel with a treatment time not more than 45 minutes, and has an annual capacity of 4.8 million metric tons. This increases the production of converter steel from its previous maximum of 9.5 million to almost 10.3 million metric tons per annum. The additional ladle furnace also enables all the steel treatment to be brought together into a single section of the plant. This reduces annual operating costs by approximately 10 million euros.

The Cherepovets Metallurgical Plant in the Vologda region is part of the “Severstal Russian Steel” Division of PAO Severstal and is one of the world’s largest integrated iron and steel works. It produced around 11.65 million metric tons of liquid steel in 2017. The steel is used to make a large number of end products, including hot- and cold-rolled flat steel, galvanized and coated products, and long products. The Cherepovets converter steel works has three converters, each with a capacity of 350 metric tons. Until now, only one ladle furnace has been available for treating liquid steel supplied by Primetals in the past.

Primetals Technologies was responsible for engineering the twin ladle furnace, the alloying system, the dedusting system, and supplied key components. The scope of supply also included the associated electrical and automation equipment. The installed Level 2 system has been seamlessly integrated in the plant’s system and allows a high degree of automation due to the use of pre-calculated process models. In addition, Primetals Technologies supervised the installation and commissioning, and provided the staff training.

Severstal was responsible for the technical documentation development and the construction activities. The company invested approximately 43 million euros to expand of its treatment capacity. Severstal and Primetals Technologies can look back on many years of close cooperation.

Twin ladle furnace supplied by Primetals Technologies to the Cherepovets, Russia converter steel works of PAO Severstal

Source: Primetals Technologies

Arlenico Starts Production of Quality Wire Rod with Meerdrive®Plus Block from SMS Group

Arlenico, a special quality wire rod producer located near Lecco Lake, put the new four-stand MEERdrive®PLUS sizing block supplied by SMS group into operation in the existing Caleotto wire rod line. Arlenico is now able to serve the market with products of much tighter tolerances than produced ever before. Thanks to the technologies supplied by SMS group, including a high-tech water cooling line of the latest design and the level 2 automation system, the company can now also apply thermomechanical rolling.

In december, Arlenico officially issued the preliminary acceptance certificate, followed by performance tests on the production of wire rod in diameters from 5.5 up to 27 millimeters in several steel grades at the maximum speed of 115 meters per second, and at low temperature of 750 °C during the following months. Since the first rolling trials, the tolerances as low as 0.05 millimeters and 50 percent ovality have been fully met on 5.5 millimeter diameter product.

MEERdrive®PLUS is a variant of the MEERdrive® technology, a revolutionary drive concept for modern wire rod production. It uses individual drives with small low-voltage motors for each stand. Since

all finished sizes are rolled in the MEERdrive®PLUS block, it is possible to realize “one-family rolling” in the rolling mill reducing the otherwise required mill downtimes for size and ring changing.

SMS group is a group of companies internationally active in plant construction and mechanical engineering for the steel and nonferrous metals industry. It has some 14,000 employees who generate worldwide sales of about EUR 3 billion. The sole owner of the holding company SMS GmbH is the Familie Weiss Foundation.

Source: SMS Group