German half-year production falls, especially at EAFs

Crude steel production by German mills in the first six months this year totalled 18.257 million tonnes, down 5.3% on the first half of 2022, according to steel federation Wirtschaftsvereinigung (WV) Stahl.

The federation points out that output via the electric-arc-furnace route, especially, has diminished, with a drop of as much as 13% – to 5.412mt. The gap widened towards the end of the reporting period. In June, the drop for total crude steel was 8.4% year-on-year to 2.925mt; for EAF-based steel the drop was as much as 20%, with 839,000 tonnes produced.

The figures show that the overall steel consuming economy has slowed down, with production cutbacks being implemented towards summer. The federation explicitly mentions the construction industry as a problematic consumer sector. Given that construction steel is mainly made at EAF mills, that route is logically suffering most.

From unsubstantiated sources, Kallanish hears that production at German rebar mills has halved year-on-year. In fact, one big mill, Badische Stahlwerke, has kept one of its two production lines idled this year so far. Output might be higher at EAF mills that produce speciality bar qualities for sophisticated applications. This could be revealed in steelmakers’ upcoming half-year reports, for example of Swiss Steel with its four plants in Germany.

Apart from obviously sluggish demand, WV Stahl especially blames high electricity costs in Germany as a hurdle to recovery, which it says shows in the steep drop of EAF production. It notes that energy costs are three times that of two years ago and calls for political action to help the steel industry make its way through the technological transformation.

Christian Koehl Germany