Crude steel output at German mills in July was virtually on par with the corresponding month of 2022, but the divergence between the oxygen and electric arc furnace routes accelerated, Kallanish notes.
With a total of 2.958 million tonnes, July production was only 0.5% lower year-on-year, according to the monthly statistics of steel federation WV Stahl. However, while oxygen-route production rose by 6% to 2.264mt, that of EAF mills dropped by 17% to 694,000t. WV Stahl speaks of a “dangerous downtrend” for EAF mills, especially, involving lower emissions but relatively higher costs amid high national electricity prices.
On top of this, EAF mills serve industries that have come most under pressure. For one thing, the slowdown in construction is challenging the country’s five rebar mills, which are allegedly extending their production breaks this summer, sources say.
Although business was thought to be better for those EAF mills serving sophisticated bar qualities, the most recent half-year figures have proved otherwise. Production at Swiss Steel, with its four mills in Germany at subsidiary Deutsche Edelstahlwerke (DEW), plunged by 20% in H1, largely due to lower sales in the automotive industry.
This is in contrast to the automotive business of oxygen-route mills, supplying strip products, which has somewhat recovered lately, hence their y-on-y increase in output. Against that, business for special bar qualities for combustion engines is suffering, caused by the rise of electric car production, which requires fewer steel components like those made by Swiss Steel/DEW.
In the first seven months of the year, German crude steel output totalled 21.485mt, a drop of around 5% from the corresponding 2022 period.
Christian Koehl Germany