China now produces 56% of the world’s steel

Tangshan steel works. Image by junrong

Data released on Monday showed Chinese steel output rebounded in August rose 9.3% from the same month a year before to 87.3m tonnes; not far off the record set in May this year, according to the World Steel Association.

Chinese furnaces now produce 56% of the world’s steel despite pollution-related output cuts mandated by Beijing over the winter months and a slowdown in construction activity.

This is due to blast furnaces in the rest of the world being idled, notably in Japan where August saw a 7.8% drop in crude steel leaving mills. US output was flat while Europe marked a 2.2% decline. Production in the rest of the world outside China is now down for three straight months.

Benchmark iron ore prices were flat on Friday with the Chinese import price of 62% Fe content fines exchanging hands for $90.91 per dry metric tonne, according to Fastmarkets MB, after coming close to triple digits a fortnight ago.

Iron ore remains in a bull market for 2019, up 25% on the back of supply disruptions from top miner Vale following a deadly dam burst in January.

The Australian export price of metallurgical coal (FOB hard coking coal Fastmarkets MB) used in steelmaking eased again on Friday to $121.50 a tonne. That’s down almost $70 a tonne compared to the start of the year amid oversupply and import restrictions imposed by Beijing.