Crude steel production by German mills last year totalled 35.44 million tonnes, some 4% lower than in 2022, Kallanish hears from steel federation WV Stahl. The trend lasted into the fourth quarter, which was 5% down on Q4 2022.
The federation calls the annual figure a “historic low”, drawing a comparison with output in the financial crisis year of 2009, which was even lower. However, back then, the international economy was shaken by a sudden crisis, and in many regards recovered sustainably a year later, WV Stahl observes. The federation suggests the decreasing production more recently is indicative of a more sustained economic recession.
The major causes it gives for the decrease of output are low demand in combination with high power prices, which primarily hit electric arc furnace production. In fact, at 9.8mt, EAF mills even undercut their 2009 output. The tonnage was down 11% year-on-year. These mills were hurting from the recession in the construction industry, while oxygen-route production still retained some stability, dropping 1% to 25.63mt.
WV Stahl managing director Kerstin Maria Rippel points out that power costs in Germany are still not internationally competitive. This will be aggravated by a doubling of grid fees this year, she adds.
Christian Koehl Germany