German crude steel output dips again in 2019

Production of crude steel at Germany’s mills in 2019 was 39.667 million tonnes, representing a fall of -6.5% versus 2018, according to federation WV Stahl. 2018 had already seen a year-on-year fall of -2%, it notes.

Output in 2019 therefore was the lowest since 2009, the federation observes. It cites slackening demand from user industries as well as import pressure from the diversion of volumes caused by the US section 232 safeguard policy.

The y-o-y decline is fairly evenly reflected in the statistical categories of oxygen-route steelmaking, EAF-made steel, pig iron and hot-rolled products, all of which saw falls of around -6.5%, Kallanish notes. Over the course of the year, however, individual months stood out with trends of EAF-based and oxygen-route steelmaking diverging strongly.

In December, crude steel output dropped by nearly -12% against December 2018, totalling 2.843m tonnes. The steep drop is mainly attributable to the idling of blast furnaces in recent months. EAF-based production showed an even stronger change however, falling by -15%.

The latter example appears to go against the relatively good level of demand for typical EAF products such as rebar, which continued during the mild winter months as a result of steady construction activity. WV Stahl provides no explanations for such apparent contradictions however, although import substitution could be a possible reason in this case, Kallanish notes.