German steel industry bemoans continuing output drop

The downward trend of German steel production has sustained itself through year-end 2023, the country’s steel federation Wirtschaftsvereinigung (WV) Stahl writes in a review titled “Energy costs and low economy lead to historic production drops.”

For the full year 2023, the federation expects a year-on-year decline of 4%, to around 35.5 million tonnes of crude steel. 2023 would thus be one of the weakest years ever in terms of output.

In particular, the electric arc furnace route faced a big slump, by 11% to an estimated 10.1m tonnes, a level last seen 30 years ago, the federation notes. In comparison with the year before the energy price shock in 2022, EAF production fell by nearly 20%.

The federation expresses particular concern over the length of the recession that accompanies the drop of production. Since March 2022, output has fallen over a period of 21 months, with one minor uptick in September 2023. A negative cycle of this length has not been seen in Germany so far, WV Stahl states.

In November, crude steel output came to 2.7 million tonnes, down 2.4% on November 2022. Kallanish notes that the more pronounced fall occurred on the blast furnace route (-6.7%, to 1.83m tonnes), likely attributable to temporary shutdowns at several mills, while EAF production rose by 8.7%, to 871,000 tonnes. The federation does not provide an interpretation for this latest uptick.

Christian Koehl Germany