Sweden’s SSAB crude steel production up 8.5% in 2021

Sweden-based SSAB said Jan. 28 its output of crude steel in 2021 rose 8.5% to 8.2 million mt, with rolling production 9.1% higher to 7.6 million mt and steel shipments up 7.1% to 6.9 million mt.

Looking at 2022, SSAB said it expected higher shipments in all three divisions in the first quarter of 2022, with demand for steel estimated to be good, albeit with continued uncertainty associated with semiconductor shortages and logistical bottlenecks. It expected realized prices to be stable for the Special Steel and Americas divisions and somewhat lower in Europe.

The company’s Special Steels division produced 0.2% more crude steel in 2021 at 2.3 million mt, while its rolling production edged 1.2% lower on the year to 1.7 million mt. The division’s shipments for the year climbed 30% to 1.5 million mt.

Special Steels markets all the company’s quenched and tempered steels and hot-rolled, advanced high-strength steels from the Raahe and Borlange operations, is responsible for steel and rolling production in Oxelosund, Sweden and took over responsibility for the Mobile mill in Alabama from SSAB Americas in the third quarter of 2021.

“All SSAB Special Steels’ customer segments had good underlying demand,” it said, adding that the strongest trend was in customer segments with exposure to the aftermarket, while demand from the heavy transport sector was stable, despite the semiconductor shortage at OEMs.

Record shipments to auto industry

SSAB Europe, which includes the Raahe and Hameenlinna operations in Finland and the Lulea and Borlange operations in Sweden, increased crude steel output by 15% in 2021 to 4.6 million mt, with rolling production also up 15%, to 4.7 million mt. SSAB Europe’s shipments increased 8.3% to 3.6 million mt in 2021.

“Demand during the fourth quarter was affected by a shortage of semiconductors, but despite this, SSAB’s shipments of high-strength steel to the car industry reached a new record level for the full-year,” SSAB said.

It said demand had been good in the construction, heavy transport and construction machinery segments, while the steel service center segment had had a “wait-and-see attitude” during Q4, partly due to low visibility for auto production levels.

The SSAB Americas division’s crude steel output rose 4.3% to 1.2 million mt, with rolling production up 1.7% to 1.2 million mt.

The division’s shipments, however, dropped 7.9% year on year to 1.9 million mt in 2021, with SSAB attributing this to a planned maintenance outage in Mobile, bad weather conditions and lack of transport capacity in Q4.

SSAB Americas produces plate in North America, as well as steel in Montpelier.

Record results

Financially, SSAB said 2021 was the best in its history, with record results posted by all divisions.

“Most of this improvement was driven by high steel prices. Internal performance was good during the year, with high production stability and improved safety results.

The company had revenue of SEK 95.9 billion ($10.1 billion) in 2021, up 47% year on year, with EBITDA up to SEK 22.1 billion from SEK 3.4 billion in 2020, which was hit by COVID-19.

SSAB’s operating profit for full-year 2021 was SEK 18.8 billion, up from a loss of SEK 325 million in 2020.

Green steel

SSAB rolled out its first fossil-free steel in 2021, which was delivered to automaker Volvo.

The company’s green steel is based on HYBRIT technology, which replaces the traditional coal and coke with fossil-free electricity and hydrogen, virtually eliminating carbon dioxide emissions in steelmaking.

SSAB also said it planned to increase green steel production in the Nordic regions to go virtually carbon free by 2030, rather than the initially planned 2045.

— Jacqueline Holman