Global 2020 steel output rises, demand holds, despite pandemic: worldsteel

Global crude steel production inched up in 2020 as demand held relatively steady despite coronavirus pandemic disruptions, the World Steel Association said June 4.

Despite the influence of the pandemic, through its different regional impacts, the global steel industry was fortunate to end 2020 with only a minor contraction in steel demand,” worldsteel Director General Edwin Basson said in a report. “We look forward to normalization in demand during 2021, owing to steady progress on vaccines and changed behavior in the global society.”

Steel output reached 1.88 billion mt in 2020, rising slightly from 1.87 billion mt in 2019.

Production was led by China, which accounted for 56.7% of global output at 1.06 billion mt, according to the worldsteel report.

Following China, top steel-producing countries included India (100.3 million mt), Japan (83.2 million mt), the US (72.7 million mt), and Russia (71.6 million mt).

Apparent steel use worldwide totaled 1.77 billion mt in 2020, down only slightly from 1.78 billion mt in 2019.

Rather than slash demand, Basson said the pandemic “has accelerated some key trends” to support long-term prospects in the steel market.

“The steel industry will see exciting opportunities from rapid developments through digitization and automation, infrastructure initiatives, reorganization of urban centers, and energy transformation,” he said.

Steel usage in China rose 9% to 995 million mt in 2020. The country accounted for 56.2% of global demand.

— Nick Lazzaro