April steel output down 13 percent globally
Photo courtesy of United States Steel Corp.

April steel output down 13 percent globally

COVID-19 restrictions cause worldwide cutback in furnace activity, according to Worldsteel.

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May 25, 2020

Crude steel production for the 64 countries that report to the Brussels-based World Steel Association (Worldsteel) fell by 13 percent in April 2020 compared with one year earlier, says the association.

The estimated 137.1 million metric tons of output was considerably reduced from one year earlier because of “the ongoing difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Worldsteel says.

Other than in China—where steel output never fell significantly even while many of its other worksites shut down—the April figures reflect the impact of governments asking citizens to stay home to combat the spread of the virus.

Producers in China, which began ramping its economy back up in April, managed to produce 0.2 percent more steel in April 2020 compared with April 2019. Steelmakers in nearly every other nation reported a smaller figure, however.

“Production in the European Union is estimated to be 10.7 million metric tons in April 2020, down 22.9 percent compared with April 2019,” says Worldsteel. In the United States, an estimated 5 million metric tons of crude steel was produced, a decrease of 32.5 percent compared with April 2019, according to Worldsteel.

Major scrap importer Turkey saw its output shrink by 26.3 percent compared with one year earlier, while Brazil’s production dropped by 39 percent. Output in India, another major scrap importer, fell by 21.1 percent.

The drops in output are likely to recover slightly in May, with some government-imposed lockdowns beginning to ease up. June figures could represent a month with an even more significant return of steelmaking activity.