Tag Archives: Stainless Steel

Stainless steel continuous slab caster modernized by Primetals Technologies started up at Outokumpu in Finland

  • Modernization facilitates production of slabs with a thickness of 200 millimeters
  • High-speed casting of austenitic grades is still possible with the new thickness
  • Production capacity rises

In December 2017, the stainless-steel continuous slab caster modernized by Primetals Technologies was started up at Outokumpu’s production site in Tornio, Finland. The aims of the project were to increase the annual production capacity of slabs and to enable thicker slabs of austenitic grades to be cast at high speed. This involved the machine head of the casting plant to be modified to cast slabs with a thickness of 200 millimeters, and the necessary adaptations were also made in the bending section and to the dummy bar system. The order was awarded to Primetals Technologies in the second quarter of 2017.

Outokumpu is one of the world’s leading stainless steel producers with the widest product portfolio in the industry. The company’s products are used in the civilization’s basic structures and its most famous landmarks as well as products for households and various industries. Primetals Technologies installed the initially stainless steel continuous slab caster, together with an electric arc furnace and an AOD converter, in 2002. Until now, the continuous slab caster has produced slabs in widths from 800 to 1,650 millimeters, with a thickness of 185 millimeters. The caster is also equipped with a range of modern technology packages. For example, the world’s first DynaGap Soft Reduction system was installed here in a continuous slab caster for stainless steels.

Primetals Technologies modernized the machine head to enable slabs to be cast with a thickness of 200 millimeters and so to raise the production capacity. The Smart Mold was equipped with new narrow faces, including lateral foot rollers and a new cover. The bending section was fitted with shims suitable for the new slab thickness and the dummy bar system was also adapted. The existing Dynacs cooling model was parameterized for the new casting thickness. The LevCon mold level control was already upgraded in 2016 to include a function to minimize bulging in order to meet higher demands in the future.

Stainless steel-continuous slab caster at Outokumpu’s stainless steel mill in Tornio, Finland. The caster, modernized by Primetals Technologies, was started up in December 2017.
Stainless steel-continuous slab caster at Outokumpu’s stainless steel mill in Tornio, Finland. The caster, modernized by Primetals Technologies, was started up in December 2017.

Primetals Technologies, Limited headquartered in London, United Kingdom is a worldwide leading engineering, plant-building and lifecycle services partner for the metals industry. The company offers a complete technology, product and service portfolio that includes integrated electrics, automation and environmental solutions. This covers every step of the iron and steel production chain, extending from the raw materials to the finished product – in addition to the latest rolling solutions for the nonferrous metals sector. Primetals Technologies is a joint venture of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Siemens. Mitsubishi-Hitachi Metals Machinery (MHMM) – an MHI consolidated group company with equity participation by Hitachi, Ltd. and the IHI Corporation – holds a 51% stake and Siemens a 49% stake in the joint venture. The company employs around 7,000 employees worldwide. Further information is available on the Internet at www.primetals.com.

Source: Primetals Technologies

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Global Growth In Stainless Steel Output To Continue

Worldwide crude stainless steel production, in 2017, reached an all-time high total of nearly 48.1 million tonnes. This represents an increase of 5 percent, compared with the year earlier figure. MEPS predicts that global output will grow by a further 5 percent, in 2018, to achieve a new record high mark of around 50.5 million tonnes.


The introduction of tariffs or quotas, arising from the United States’ Section 232 action, is likely to alter the patterns of trade between the major stainless steel producing countries. Output in the United States grew by a healthy 11 percent, year-on-year, in 2017. We forecast more moderate expansion, this year.

South Korea & Taiwan

Production in South Korea and Taiwan continued its recovery, having slumped, following the Global Financial Crisis of 2008/9. Output increased by 6 percent, last year, in South Korea, to total 2.4 million tonnes. In Taiwan, production grew by nearly 9 percent, compared with the year earlier figure, to reach almost 1.4 million tonnes. Both countries are expected to record increases of around 4 percent, year-on-year, in 2018.

EU & Japan

Growth is more moderate, in the traditional stainless steelmaking centres of Japan and the European Union. Production increased at a modest pace in both markets, in 2017. Expansion is predicted to continue at a similar rate, in both places, this year.


In China, the annual growth rate in stainless steel supply slowed, to 4.7 percent, in 2017, after years of rapidly increasing output. Nevertheless, at 25.8 million tonnes, the country produced over 53 percent of the world’s crude stainless steel, last year. A further increment, of around 4 percent, year-on-year, is forecast for 2018.

Stainless steel production continues to climb most steeply in the “Others” category. India is becoming a major part of the global supply chain, while a new facility in Indonesia, commissioned last year, will also contribute significant tonnages, in the future.

Source: MEPS Stainless Steel Review


Section 232 Probe Creates Chaos In Global Steel Industry

Divergent Prices in Global Stainless Steel Markets

Stainless steel flat products ex-mill prices decreased again, this month, in most of the countries surveyed by MEPS. Further reductions are likely, in Western nations, in the near term. Market participants in Europe and North America predict that July/August is likely to represent the bottom of the current price curve.

Transaction values fell sharply, this month, in the United States, under the influence of reduced raw material costs. While nickel values have stabilised, somewhat, in recent weeks, the decrease in the European ferrochrome contract price for the third quarter will affect stainless steel selling figures in the coming months. The US mills’ alloy surcharges for July, represent a further, significant cut, month-on-month. MEPS’ effective figure for grade 304, cold rolled coil, for June, is already over 5 percent lower than the recent peak value, recorded in April. However, it should be noted that this month’s price is more than 20 percent higher than that published one year ago.

Alloy surcharges continue to slide, in Europe. The recent weakness in the LME nickel cost had a negative effect on the calculations for June and July. The reduced ferrochrome contract figure is likely to result in more cuts for August. Furthermore, basis prices began to weaken, this month, and market players foresee additional discounts, in the short term. MEPS’ published transaction value for type 304, cold rolled coil, in Germany, for June, is more than 9 percent below the recent high figure, from April, but remains nearly 20 percent higher than the price recorded in June 2016.

Chinese price formulations react much more quickly to day-to-day fluctuations in raw material values, than those used in most other nations. Consequently, selling figures, in China, have risen, slightly, in recent weeks, in response to upturns in spot prices for both nickel and ferrochrome. Nevertheless, our tabled numbers, for grade 304, cold rolled coil, in June, are more than 23 percent down on the peak figure, published in December 2016, but 2 percent higher than the price reported twelve months ago.

Source: MEPS – Stainless Steel Review – June 2017 Issue


Worldwide crude stainless steel production, in 2016, reached an all-time high total of nearly 45.8 million tonnes. This represents an increase of more than 10 percent, compared with the year earlier figure. MEPS predicts that global output will grow by around 3.75 percent, in 2017, to achieve a new record high mark of around 47.5 million tonnes.

Outturn in all of the long-established stainless steelmaking countries increased, year-on-year, in 2016, after most had recorded a contraction in the previous twelve months. Production continued to grow, strongly, in China and in the developing nations.

Despite earlier expectations that stainless steel output growth, in China, would slow down, rapid expansion continued, in 2016. The country’s official annual total was reported at nearly 25 million tonnes – an increase of more than 15 percent, compared with the previous year. This equates to almost 55 percent of the world aggregate figure. With antidumping measures, in many countries, restricting global exports, China has recently made moves to curb its rate of expansion.

After a slight dip, in 2015, production in the United States returned to its trend of robust growth, increasing by more than 6 percent, last year, to total around 2.5 million tonnes. MEPS predicts that output will expand by a further 2 percent, in 2017.

Crude stainless steel production recovered strongly, in Taiwan, in 2016 – increasing by almost 14 percent, year-on-year, to exceed 1.25 million tonnes, for the first time since 2010. More moderate growth is forecast for this year.

Annual outturn advanced by between one and two percent, in the EU, Japan and South Korea, last year. Further, steady expansion, of a similar magnitude, is foreseen, in these markets, in 2017.

Source: MEPS – Stainless Steel Review – April Issue


Stainless steel transaction values climbed significantly, in November. MEPS All Products Average figure for grade 304 increased by 3.5 percent, month-on-month. The rise was predominantly due to the mills passing on to their customers their growing raw material costs, most notably for nickel. The metal’s price has been on an upward trend since September, with a sharp spike in the wake of the US presidential election.

Sentiment in the nickel market was positively affected, earlier in the year, by the actions of the Philippines government, closing several mines, on environmental grounds. Following on from Indonesia’s ban on nickel ore exports, this move suggested a likely tightening in supply, in the medium term. Both countries have confirmed, recently, that they will continue with their restrictions for the foreseeable future.

Although LME stocks remain at a comparatively high level, above 360,000 tonnes, an upturn in demand could lead to a supply deficit, with the consequent upward pressure on prices.

The LME nickel value soared in the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump’s election victory in the United States, as investors favoured commodities, such as metals, over stocks and shares. While many observers predicted that Mr. Trump’s election would engender economic chaos, the evidence suggests that his stated growth-friendly plans, such as corporate tax reform, deregulation and infrastructure spending, have been viewed positively by the markets.

In addition to economic growth, US stainless steelmakers are likely to be assisted by further protectionist measures, under the new regime.

Recent trade restraints, by the US, the European Union and others, have primarily targeted exports from China. The world’s biggest stainless steel producer has excess output capacity and more facilities are planned. With restricted access to overseas markets, China’s future strategy will have a major influence on the global supply/demand balance.

Source: MEPS – Stainless Steel Review – November Issue


According to MEPS, austenitic stainless steel coil selling values rose in September, in the United States and Europe. This was largely due to the increase in the London Metal Exchange nickel price, during the July/August reference period for alloy surcharge calculations. Transaction figures in the Far East, in a reaction to subsequent raw material cost movements, were either unchanged or recorded slight reductions.

European stainless steel producers also sought basis price increases in September and, in most cases, achieved small advances. At this late stage in the month, we know that surcharges will fall, in October. Consequently, EU mills are likely to push for further basis price hikes. Any such rise agreed will be insufficient to counteract the drop in alloy extras. Transaction values will, therefore, decline. However, since the calculation of the October surcharges, the LME nickel price has climbed significantly. This is likely to result in an increase in 300 series stainless steel selling figures, in November.

The costs of raw materials, especially nickel, have led to fluctuating stainless steel prices during most of 2016. Now, though, several factors suggest a more sustainable upward trend for nickel values. Market observers have been predicting, for some time, that demand will exceed nickel production in the medium term. Although LME stocks are at a historically high level, they have been on a downward curve throughout this year and, this week, have recorded a two-year low.

Furthermore, the government of the Philippines’ environmental audit has resulted in the shuttering of 10 mines and, recently, a recommendation for a further 20 to be suspended. These 30 facilities would include 18 nickel mines, representing over half of the country’s extra sction capacity, or around 10 percent of world nickel ore output.

This situation has attracted speculators to the nickel commodity market and is likely to result in sustained higher prices for the metal.

Source: MEPS – Stainless Steel Review – September Issue