National Holidays and General Elections Stifle End-User Demand in Emerging Markets

In Brazil, the level of activity varies considerably, depending on region and sector. The Instituto Nacional dos Distribuidores de Aço (Inda) reports that, in April 2019, domestic flat rolled finished steel sales totalled 266,000 tonnes – up 18.1 percent, compared with the corresponding figure in the previous year. However, the association is forecasting that, both sales and purchases of flat steel products, will decline by 5 percent, month-on-month, in May. 

Market sentiment in the Russian Federation is, generally, positive. Demand is solid yet unspectacular. Purchase volumes from the automotive industry are better than anticipated. Nonetheless, distributors are wary and only order for their immediate requirements, apprehensive of a downward price correction, in June and July.

In India, service centres are keeping inventories on the low side. Domestic sales are tepid. A number of large investment decisions have been postponed until after the general election. Traditionally, during this period, government infrastructure spending is on hold and end-users defer forward orders. 

The outlook for the Ukrainian market is unchanged. MEPS’ research reveals that the scale and longevity of any pricing revival will be modest – with political and economic uncertainty expected to continue to undermine market sentiment. The local association of metal producers, Metallurgprom, reports that finished steel production, in April 2019, totalled 1.665 million tonnes – down 1.7 percent, month-on-month.

The trading environment is challenging, in Turkey. Local end-user consumption is subdued. Buyers at stockists are hesitant about carrying too much inventory during the next two months. The automotive sector is underperforming, along with poor demand from general industry. Traditionally, the business climate exhibits signs of improvement in the last week of Ramadan (ending June 5). 

Turkish exporters are still focused on developing new business ties in Europe and Southeast Asia. The US authorities recently cut the import tariff on Turkish steel from 50 percent to 25 percent. Nonetheless, Turkish exporters are expected to face increased competition from their Canadian and Mexican counterparts, as Section 232 measures have been removed from those two countries.

Procurement activity is slow, in the United Arab Emirates. Business confidence is lukewarm, deflated by quiet conditions during Ramadan and the approaching summer holiday season. Day-to-day sales, at the distributors, are low. No upturn in market activity is foreseen until the end of the summer, at the earliest. Export opportunities are limited outside the GCC region.

The outlook is unchanged in South African steel market. Domestic consumption is relatively weak. Little improvement is envisaged for construction and mining investment, in the near term. Service centre buyers are receiving competitively priced offers from third country sources.

Business sentiment is lethargic, in Mexico. Service centres are cautious, maintaining a “wait and see” attitude, shaped by poor underlying demand and hesitant end-user buying activity. The construction sector continues to underperform, with few major projects in the pipeline. Meanwhile, the National Chamber of Iron and Steel Industry (CANACERO) is lobbying the government to do more to revive the economy, stressing the need for a strong industrial policy.

Source: Extract from MEPS Developing Markets Steel Review – May 2019

Primetals Technologies to install Automated Tapping systems at two BOF converters of Jiangsu Shagang

  • First commercial implementation of Primetals Technologies’ Automated Tapping system
  • Reduced tapping time
  • Minimal slag carry-over will improve phosphorous refining
  • Optimal tapping performance independent of individual operators
  • Improvement of working safety

Chinese steel producer Jiangsu Shagang Group Company Limited (Jiangsu Shagang) placed an order with Primetals Technologies to install automatic tapping system on two BOF converters in its converter steelworks in Zhangjiagang in Jiangsu Province. This modernization project marks the first commercial implementation of Primetals Technologies´ Automated Tapping system in a steelworks. The package will reduce tapping time and minimize slag carry-over, improving subsequent phosphorous refining. Automated tapping sequences will optimize tapping performance and make it independent from the operator’s experience. In addition, working safety will be largely improved. Start-up of the new Automated Tapping systems is expected for the third quarter of 2019.

Jiangsu Shagang is the largest private steel producer in China. Its annual production capacity is 31.9 million tons of iron, 39.2 million tons of steel and 37.2 million tons of rolled products. The range of products includes heavy plates, hot-rolled coils, steel wire, ribbed steel and special round steels. Steel is produced by means of BOF converters.

The upgrade of BOF operation by Primetals Technologies encompasses the hardware and sensor system for Automated Tapping, the safety system to prevent ladle overfilling, the implementation of Automated Tapping sequences, the installation of additional features for safety tapping as well as the integration of the existing slag stopper system.

The Automated Tapping system developed and installed by Primetals Technologies acts as a “Digital Assistant” and allows for a safe and fully automatic converter tapping procedure, including the control of vessel position, ladle car movement during tapping, as well as the positioning of the chute for ladle alloying. In combination with an installed slag identification system, e.g. optical or magnetic slag detection and a slag stopper system, there is minimal carry-over of converter slag in the teeming ladle.

At the end of converter treatment, the operator initiates the Automated Tapping procedure by just pressing one button. The converter is automatically tilted to the initial tapping angle and a fully automatic tapping procedure is executed. During the tapping procedure, all of the equipment involved is coordinated simultaneously. The primary task of the operator is to monitor tapping progress. The position of the vessel and the ladle car, the ladle alloying system, the installations for slag detection and the slag stopper are controlled by the software module. Multiple safety functions such as maximum tilting speed, online weight monitoring, and ladle fill level detection are included with Automated Tapping. There is always the possibility for the operator to intervene at any time, either to meet special requirements resulting from exceptional tapping situations or to maintain operational safety. Automated Tapping is available for all converter types and for slag pouring at the end of the tapping procedure.

The understanding of a fully automated converter operation is to execute the entire sequence of all required process steps for converter steelmaking charging – blowing – tapping and alloying in an autonomous manner. Thus Automatic Tapping is one cornerstone in achieving a fully digital, i.e. smart steel plant.

Tapping of a BOF converter. The newly developed Automated Tapping system from Primetals Technologies improves productivity and work safety. The first commercial implementation of this type will be installed at Jiangsu Shagang in the Zhangjiagang steelworks.

Source: Primetals Technologies

US authorities Relax Section 232 Measures

Steel selling values, in the United States, continue to be among the highest in the world. Nevertheless, local steel manufacturers are struggling to minimise the extent of recent price erosion, across flat and long products. Falling scrap expenditure, weak purchasing activity and an uptick in domestic production contributed to the latest price decline, this month. Hot rolled coil prices are, currently, hovering just above the US$600 per short ton mark. However, the reduced impact of Section 232 legislation has the potential to exacerbate the negative pricing situation further, in the near term.

In mid-May, the US government agreed to eliminate the tariffs on Canada and Mexico – with these countries dropping the reciprocal measures against US-made steel. The introduction of trade barriers had a negative effect on cross-border deals between the countries. This led to a widening price differential between US and Canadian steel values – in particular those for hot rolled coil – with Canadian figures falling at a faster rate than their US counterparts. 

Canadian steel producers, who are heavily reliant on sales to the US market, were finding their access increasingly restricted, due to the trade legislation. In an attempt to plug significant gaps in their production schedules, mills were forced to slash their local offers, to secure orders. The Canadian hot rolled coil market quickly became saturated. Domestic delivery lead times declined to one week, at one stage. 

It is widely anticipated that the removal of the Section 232 tariffs should provide Canadian producers some much-needed breathing space, by giving them the opportunity to close the pricing gap on their US neighbours. The US authorities also relaxed their stance on Turkish imports, by halving the tariff from 50 percent. It is likely that Turkish mills may redirect export volumes, from Europe, to the more lucrative US steel market, as a result.

Many European steel market participants remark that Turkish shipments of hot rolled coil to the continent, increased by more than 50 percent, in the first quarter of 2019, compared with the figure in the preceding year. High import penetration continues, despite existing EC safeguarding measures. Economic growth is stalling in a number of European countries and volatile raw material costs have put a strain on the profitability of regional steelmakers. 

In order to stem further price erosion, ArcelorMittal announced its intention to reduce supply from several of its Central and Eastern European steelmaking facilities. Moreover, we have reports that the company has raised its list price offers by between €30/40 per tonne. The consensus view of the majority of attendees at the recent ‘Made in Steel’ event in Milan, was that the pricing initiative, led by ArcelorMittal and followed by other mills, is likely to minimise the extent of further price deterioration within the region. 

MEPS expects downward movements in global selling figures to continue. However, values are likely to be approaching the bottom of the current cycle. Due to rising mill input costs, MEPS predicts a modest price recovery in late summer/early autumn. Nonetheless, the recent escalation of trade tensions involving the US and China, and continued Brexit uncertainty, will do little to boost consumer confidence, around the world. 

Source: MEPS International Steel Review

SMS Group to Supply New 100-Ton-Per-Hour Furnace for NLMK DanSteel’s Existing Plate Mill

On March 6, 2019, SMS group signed an order covering the supply of a new 100-ton-per-hour walking beam furnace to be installed in the existing plate mill, which was supplied by SMS group too, of NLMK DanSteel A/S located in Frederiksvaerk near Copenhagen. The new furnace will include a broad range of innovations with the combination of SMS DigiMod combustion management system, SMS ZeroFlame burners and SMS GeniusCM® system for predictive maintenance ensuring very good results in terms of low fuel consumption, reduced scale formation and pollutant emission that comes with NOx values lower than 100 mg/Nm3. The new walking beam furnace will be able to reheat a wide spectrum of slabs in the weight range from 3.1 up to massive 62 tons for use in structural, shipbuilding, boiler and pressure vessel applications. In terms of material weights handled, this furnace will hence be the largest one ever built by SMS group. Plant commissioning and start-up are scheduled for the beginning of 2021.

The scope of supply includes roller tables for slabs handling. The modern water treatment plant features an energy recovery system which uses the energy from the furnace for internal and external heating purposes. Further included in the project are the integration of a level-2 automation system, turnkey supply and extensive pre-assembling in order to facilitate installation and supervision activities.

(Steel Demand in Northern Europe)

NLMK DanSteel is a private company 100-percent owned by NLMK International B.V., The Netherlands, and was established in 2002 on the basis of the former Danish Steel Works Ltd. which was founded in 1940. Since then, it has expanded and developed continuously. Now, it is part of the Russian NMLK Group.

Signing ceremony, from left to right: Thierry Markey, Category Manager NLMK Europe; Brijesh Garg, Director Procurement NLMK Europe; Riccardo De Michielis, Sales Manager SMS group, RHF technologies; Simone Zussino, Vice President, SMS group, RHF technologies; Igor Sarkits, CEO, NLMK DanSteel; Yuriy Bokachev, Technical Director, NLMK DanSteel; Allan Thomasen, Project Manager, NLMK DanSteel.

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

EVRAZ North America Selects Danieli To Supply New Premium Rail Mill

EVRAZ North America, a leading North American producer of engineered steel products for rail, energy and industrial markets, has chosen Danieli to supply its new rolling mill for the production of 100-meter-long premium-quality rails.

It will produce up to 88 kg/m rails for heavy-haul and high-speed railways.

To be built in Pueblo, Colorado, with a production capacity of 670,000 short tons, it will be the most modern rail rolling mill in North America.

The mill’s product range will include flat-bottom rails and thick-web rails up to 88 kilograms per meter for heavy-haul and high-speed railways, and other applications. Rails will be manufactured according to AREMA specifications in customized grades, with hardness up to 425 BHN and lengths up to 100 meters.

The rail mill will feature flexible rolling processes both in the break-down and in the ultra-flexible reversing mills, achieving very low roll consumption and precise geometrical tolerances.

A Danieli Automation control system, based on L1 and L2, with dedicated PLCs and HMI, will fully guarantee automatic process settings and control of the mill.

Source: Danieli


Erdemir Group Relies on Paul Wurth Expertise for Construction of Two New Blast Furnaces

Paul Wurth has been awarded with orders for two new blast furnaces to be built by Erdemir Group, Turkey’s largest steelmaker, at their Ereğli and Iskenderun integrated steel plants. In both cases, completely new blast furnaces will replace an older production unit.

At Ereğli at Turkey’s northern Black Sea shore, Erdemir’s new BF2 will have a hearth diameter of 10 meters, 24 tuyeres and two tapholes; it will produce 5,000 tons of hot metal per day from an inner volume of 2,188 cubic meters. At Isdemir works in Iskenderun at the Mediterranean Sea, the new BF1 will be sized at 12.5 meters in the hearth and 3,587 cubic meters of inner volume; it will be fitted with 32 tuyeres and four tapholes and will produce 7,900 tons daily, which further increases the hot metal capacity at this site.

Paul Wurth will execute both projects on an EP basis including the supply of technological key items and related supervision of erection and commissioning. The orders include basic engineering of the blast furnaces with profile, cooling and lining concepts as well as the design of the stockhouses, top gas cleaning plants, slag granulation plants and BF cooling units. Paul Wurth will provide detail engineering for some non-supply items like process vessels, especially (but not only) the BF shells, and for the piping of the BF cooling systems. While Erdemir’s new furnace will be plate cooled, the thin-wall concept with vertically arranged staves will be applied to the furnace at Isdemir.

For both furnaces, Paul Wurth will supply Bell Less Top® charging systems and bleeder valves, refractories for the hot blast mains and bustle pipes, tuyere stocks with tuyere phenomena detection system (TPDS), technological and critical items for the top gas cleaning plants (consisting of axial cyclones, annular gap scrubbers) as well as for in total three INBA® slag granulations systems. Extensive sets of TMT* probes and process recorders include, inter alia, 3D TopScan™ burden surface profilemeters and SOMA™ acoustic top gas temperature measurement. Under the same contracts, TMT will also supply fully hydraulic taphole machinery for equipping all the six tapholes in total.

At Erdemir, some auxiliary plant units will be re-used fully or partially making necessary a certain scope of customized adaption engineering. In the case of Isdemir, Paul Wurth will additionally supply key items for the 4-stoves hot blast generation plant (Paul Wurth top-fired stoves), the common L1 automation of the BF plant and a Level 2 BFXpert® package.

Challenging project schedules foresee blow-in of the new blast furnaces for March 2021 (Erdemir) and May of the same year (Isdemir).

*TMT Tapping Measuring Technology is a joint company of Dango & Dienenthal GmbH and Paul Wurth S.A.

Source: Paul Wurth