Confusion Reigns in EU Steel Market

European strip mill product prices declined for the fifth consecutive month, in February. Buyers remain extremely cautious. Market sentiment is gloomy, due to numerous economic and political uncertainties. Moreover, customers perceive a lack of clarity regarding steel imports, particularly with reference to the EC definitive safeguard measures and their potential impact on the market. Regional mills have spare capacity, due to a substantial reduction in orders from vehicle manufacturers. Inventories, especially at the service centres, remain adequate, for current requirements, allowing customers to wait and assess how the market develops. 

Nevertheless, a number of factors could bring a new dimension to future pricing. Price hikes have been proposed for strip mill products, with immediate effect. Import quotations from third country suppliers are also higher than those one month ago. Mill input costs are rising rapidly, following the dam collapse at Brazilian iron ore producer, Vale. Floods in Queensland, Australia, which caused the temporary closure of Abbot Point coking coal export terminal, added to the rising expenditure.

Germany

Conditions in the manufacturing sector deteriorated, at the start of 2019. Trade tensions and a slowing auto sector undermined steel demand. Order intake at the steelmakers remains weak. Strip mill product prices continued to slide, in February. Service centre inventories are medium to high. Their sales are below expectations. Buyers are wary – ordering only for their immediate requirements. Offers from overseas sources are more expensive than one month ago. 

France

Distributors report good activity, but resale prices remain under negative pressure. Purchase volumes from the auto industry are better than anticipated, after the market slowdown in the last two months of 2018. Nevertheless, strip mills continued to make price concessions, in February. With rising raw material costs, plus the new EC definitive quotas taking effect, several buyers believe that conditions are now more favourable for price rises. 

Italy

Manufacturing output declined sharply, in January. The downstream steel market is extremely weak. As a result, strip mill product demand and prices are suffering. Delivery lead times from local mills are very short. Despite proposed increases, basis values continued to move down, in late January/early February. As service centres’ inventories remain on the high side, MEPS detects little reason for them to purchase large volumes. Resale margins continue to be squeezed. 

United Kingdom

Manufacturing activity slowed, in January. Ex-mill basis values were largely unchanged, in February. European mills announced their intention to increase prices for the second quarter, but some deals for April/May are already concluded at current levels. Overseas suppliers are also raising their quotations. However, traders’ prices for port stocks are quite reasonable. Inventories are relatively high at auto-related service centres because of the downturn in the carmaking industry. Distributors’ margins are tighter than of late but still acceptable. 

Belgium

Economic growth is lower than previously expected. Some large investment decisions have been postponed. In the steel market, both end-users and stockholders are in ‘wait and see’ mode, as uncertainty persists. Further downward price pressure, on strip mill products, was noted, in February. A number of buyers believe that the bottom is now reached, since the EC announced new duties on some imports. 

Spain

A positive start to 2019 was registered in Spain’s manufacturing sector. Meanwhile, steel buyers continue to push for discounts and local producers adjust basis values downwards, for March deliveries. However, customers do not expect further decreases. They anticipate that steelmakers will achieve, at least, a portion of their €30 per tonne price hike proposal. Service centre sales picked up, in terms of volume, in February. However, resale values do not reflect replacement costs. Distributors hope that planned mill price increases will help them to recover lost margins.

Source: MEPS European Steel Review

Downward Trend in Northern European Flat Steel Prices Continues

Slight-to-moderate price reductions were recorded, in February, for most flat product categories, in all the countries surveyed for the European Steel Review Supplement. This trend is very much in line with the major Western European economies.

Demand varied, by country and product, in January and February, but was, overall, below average, for the time of year. This was exacerbated by uncertainty amongst buyers, arising from the Brexit negotiations and the European Commission’s deliberations concerning safeguard measures.

The slowdown in European car production, precipitated, in particular, by the emissions measuring scandal, is having an especially negative impact on sales of galvanised sheet and coil. This has a knock-on effect on demand for hot and cold rolled coil. The consequent spare production capacity, at regional rolling mills, puts further negative pressure on northern European flat steel prices.

Source: MEPS European Steel Review Supplement

Continuous slab caster upgraded by Primetals Technologies started up at China Steel Corporation

In December 2018, the continuous slab caster S6 upgraded by Primetals Technologies of Taiwanese steel producer China Steel Corporation (CSC) was started up at the company´s Kaohsiung plant. The project included the replacement of obsolete or redundant features via the modernization of the mold and the installation of proven technology packages. The aim was to increase flexibility, product quality and to minimize breakouts. The upgrade also considers possible additional enhancement features in future. The new technology packages worked in automatic mode from the start

Primetals Technologies equipped the caster with three new technology packages, namely the DynaWidth hydraulic mold width adjustment to allow accurate slab width change during or between casting, the Mold Expert breakout prevention and mold monitoring system to minimize the possibility of breakouts, and the DynaFlex hydraulic mold oscillation with a new frame type oscillator which gives complete flexibility over oscillation control during casting to maximize as cast product surface quality. Primetals Technologies was responsible for design and supply, and provided advisory services during erection and commissioning. New mold parts and a new frame type DynaFlex oscillator were manufactured in Taiwan by CSC-owned China Steel Machinery Corporation (CSMC).

The two-strand continuous slab caster S6 originally started up in 1996 and was equipped with a straight twin casting mold. The machine radius is around 9 meters and the metallurgical length is around 44.7 meters. It produces slabs with a thickness of 250 millimeters with widths ranging from 750 to 1,880 millimeters. Grades cast include low, ultra-low, medium and high carbon steels, peritectic, micro alloyed and high silicon steels.

China Steel Corporation (CSC) is the leading steel producer in Taiwan with an annual production of around 10 million metric tons per year. Around two thirds of the production is for the domestic Taiwanese market, the rest is exported. The CSC plant in Kaohsiung includes two BOF shops with a total of seven 2-strand slab casters and three 4-strand bloom casters. The slab casters mainly produce carbon and low alloy steels.

Source: Primetals Technologies

Double cold reduction mill supplied by Primetals Technologies started-up at Baosteel in Shanghai

At the Shanghai works of Chinese steel producer Baoshan Iron & Steel Co Ltd. (Baosteel), a newly-built double cold reduction (DCR) mill supplied by Primetals Technologies commenced operation. The DCR mill is designed to process 205,000 metric tons of cold strip per year and is part of Baosteel´s Tinplate Product Structure Optimization Project. It may be run in both reduction/temper and temper mode. The processed strip will be used for the production of beverage can, metal caps, electrical components, for example. Primetals Technologies had received the order in December 2016.

Baoshan Iron & Steel Co Ltd. is part of the newly formed China Baowu Steel Group Corp Ltd, with an annual production of approximately 65.4 million metric tons (2017) the second largest steel producer in the world. Baosteel produces high-quality products for both the domestic and the world markets. 

(Read more about Baosteel on World Steel News)

The DCR mill supplied by Primetals Technologies has an annual production capacity of 205,000 metric tons at a maximum line speed of 1,500 m/min. It consists of a two-stand UCM and is designed to perform double-cold reduction as well as one-stand temper rolling.

In the DCR process, the annealed strip, after reduction in a tandem cold mill, is reduce rolled on the No. 1 stand and temper rolled on the No. 2 stand. This process imparts the strip with its prescribed mechanical strength. In stand No. 1, work rolls with two different diameters can be used.In one-stand temper rolling, the strip is temper rolled in stand 2 to the prescribed elongation ratios to obtain the desired mechanical characteristics.

The DCR mill processes strip produced by a PLTCM. Entry strip gauges are between 0.17 mm and 0.55 mm. Exit gauges range from 0.12 mm to 0.36 mm. Strip width may vary from 700 to 1,230 mm. At a coil diameter of 2,000 mm, maximum coil weight amounts to 24.15 tons. Steel grades include DR7 to DR10.

Source: Primetals Technologies

Ternium Barranquilla Orders VCC® Line From SMS Group

VCC® technology comes to Colombia

Ternium del Atlántico SAS, has placed an order with SMS group for the supply and installation of the VCC® technology (Vertical Compact Coiler) for its bar mill in Palmar de Varela, Barranquilla, Colombia.

SMS group’s VCC® is today’s state-of-the-art solution for producing compact and torsion-free coils, and is now increasingly in demand by rebar processors. The compact coil is a crucial step forward in improving the pack-up quality of the final product. These coils have preselected dimensions that, thanks to VCC®, remain consistent for all products processed on the same line. At the same time, the compact coil size is ideal for storage, transport and handling. This is particularly beneficial when coils are reworked next to construction sites, where there is a build-up of rebar stirrups and other concrete reinforcing structures, especially in metropolitan areas with many space constraints. These are the preconditions that convinced Ternium to integrate this VCC® technology into the existing bar mill.

From left to right:
Filippo Verlezza, Area Sales Manager, SMS group.
Norberto Gonzales, Project Manager, Ternium.

Once in operation, the plant will produce rebars from eight to 16 millimeters in diameter at speeds of up to 35 meters per second. The output will be 120 tons per hour with a coil weight of up to three tons.

One of the most important features of VCC® is its method of coiling the bar directly in the vertical position. Plant operators can therefore eliminate the need for turning manipulators and at the same time reduce the process cycle time, as all coils are formed in the final position. The coils are ready to be stored immediately once coiling has been completed and the coils have cooled down.

This order sets the score to 20 VCC® units supplied by SMS group worldwide since 1998 and is another important achievement demonstrating again SMS group’s expertise and position as a reliable and leading partner in the world of metals for plant supply, installation, startup and commissioning. The result is 543 facilities for wire rod, SBQ and special applications, bars and merchant products the company has supplied since 1950.

Source: SMS Group

People also read:

Primetals Technologies wins another order from EVRAZ NTMK to supply automation and electrical equipment for reconstruction of a blast furnace

  • Process automation optimizes operational parameters and reduces coke consumption
  • Fully virtualized automation system reduces servicing costs
  • Primetals Technologies also upgraded blast furnace #7, which has been in operation since the beginning of 2018

EVRAZ Nizhniy Tagil Metallurgical Plant (EVRAZ NTMK), a Russian steel producer, has awarded Primetals Technologies an order to supply the automation and electrical equipment for its reconstructed blast furnace #6. The basic automation (level 1) and the process optimization (level 2) will be installed as a virtualized automation system on central, redundant servers, which will drastically reduce servicing costs, especially those for future upgrades. The new process automation will enable the operational parameters of the furnace to be optimized and coke consumption to be reduced. The order is worth several million euros. The blast furnace is scheduled to be commissioned by the middle of 2020. Primetals Technologies previously supplied the electrical equipment and automation for the blast furnace #7, which has been in operation since the beginning of March 2018.

After running for 15 years, blast furnace #6 was shut down at the start of 2018. The blast furnace will be completely demolished, including the secondary plant equipment, such as the stockhouse, hot-blast stove, gas cleaning and dedusting systems. It will be completely rebuilt, and as from 2020 is scheduled to supply the hot metal for the plant in Nizhniy Tagil together with blast furnace # 7, which was brought into operation in 2018.

With an annual production of 4.9 million metric tons of hot metal and 4.2 million metric tons of steel, EVRAZ NTMK is one of the largest steel works in Russia. The integrated iron and steel works is located in the city of Nizhniy Tagil in the Sverdlovsk Region of the Urals. It primarily produces train wheels, rails, structural steel, pipe blanks and semifinished products. Nizhniy Tagil is one of the oldest Russian steelmaking and mining centers.

A major reason for winning the order was the company’s good experience the with automation and electrical equipment Primetals Technologies had installed in blast furnace #7. In the past two years, Primetals Technologies has also received orders to install automation equipment in five blast furnaces in Brazil, Europe and India.

Control room of blast furnace #7 with automation and electrical equipment installed by Primetals Technologies for EVRAZ NTMK in Nizhniy Tagil, Russia. By the middle of 2020, Primetals Technologies will also install the automation and electrical equipment for the upgraded blast furnace #6.

Source: Primetals Technologies

People also read: