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Steel News November 2017 – Fluctuation is the name of the game

As stainless steel suppliers in the UK we’re always fascinated to see what’s happening in our world. And there’s a lot going on in the steel sector right now, with contradictory news the name of the game.

Earnings are up, and down.

ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest maker of the metal, has only seen a small increase of 1.4% in third quarter year-on-year earnings, but it remains bullish about the world’s steel market. Taking a totally different standpoint, the news from China’s main steelmaking province, Hebei, isn’t so optimistic. But the cuts they’re proposing have nothing to do with steel supply and demand.

Hebei is due to cut its steel production capacity by around 20 million tonnes between 2018 – 2020, driving it down to around 200 million tonnes by the end of the period. Hebei has already cut capacity by just short of 70 million tonnes. The reason? It’s all down to the region’s deadly air pollution, and other local industries – including aluminium smelting – have also been asked to cut production by as much as 50% through the coming winter to help tackle the issue.
Good news from Tata steel

There’s good news for Welsh jobs thanks to Tata, which has announced a £30m investment in its Port Talbot steelworks. They want to install a new 500-tonne steelmaking vessel as well as making other important upgrades including emission reducing systems, signalling a bright future. The new kit will also allow the company to create advanced types of the metal for specialist use in electric vehicles, hybrid cars and the construction sector.

The Welsh plant already has two steelmaking vessels which operate 24/7 and usually last for around 20 years. The new vessel will let them ensure reliable operations, illustrating their dedication to long-term steel making in Britain. As UK steel suppliers, we are delighted.

Kobe Steel’s data falsification scandal

Kobe Steel has been beset by problems recently, blaming at least ten years of chronic data fabrication on the company’s closed corporate culture, unhealthy focus on profits and ‘unbalanced’ factory management style. An internal investigation set in place by the Japanese government revealed how Kobe has long been selling aluminium, copper and steel with dodgy product specifications, which on the face of it appeared to meet customers’ expectations but, in fact, didn’t.

The scandal has affected 500 of the company’s overseas and home-grown clients, and Kobe has since promised to improve its internal controls, invest in better automation of quality testing and create an internal committee to oversee quality. The company has apologised profusely for the trouble they have caused their customers, suppliers and shareholders.

Las Vegas responds to terrorist threats with steel bollards

Clark County, home to Las Vegas, is soon to install 800 steel posts between the street and pavement along the famous Strip, in the wake of the recent tragic lorry attack. The bollards are apparently tough enough to withstand a flatbed truck travelling at 55mph, and the first tranche will be installed at seven key locations between Tropicana Avenue and Spring Mountain Road.

The county spokesman Dan Kulin said that the locations were chosen based on police recommendations, and confirmed that the action was being taken to foil the kind of vehicle-ramming attacks that have killed pedestrians in numerous incidents worldwide. 7500 more bollards are set to be installed along the Strip in the New Year, reaching from Sahara Avenue to the famous ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas’ sign.

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