Opening of 4th Scrap Steel and 2nd GE Conference at Bangkok
Mining News Pro - SteelMint Events’ Scrap, Billet, DRI and Graphite Electrodes conference gets off to a flying start.

According to Mining News Pro - 27th August was the opening day of 4th Scrap Steel and 2nd GE Conference with the presence of many global mining companies which is now being held in Bangkok, Thailand.

Day 1 set the tone for SteelMint Events’ 4th Steel Scrap, Billet & DRI Trade Summit – Emerging Markets and the 2nd Global Graphite Electrode Conference, a three-day event that got under way in Bangkok.

China and India are the two key names that invariably crop up at steel-related conferences. There are some common denominators like good quality automobiles, high-end construction and infrastructure growth. But, something is sputtering, there seem to be roadblocks to growth at present and one of the reasons is the US-China trade war that is causing a slowdown in the steel and steel consumption industries which, in turn, has seen an inventory pile-up. The next three days we will be tracking the scenario in detail.

A key theme is environmental awareness. India will soon have a metal recycling policy in place while China will, of course, increasingly consume scrap, going forward. And there is a strong case for this to become a pan-Asian phenomenon. The case for increased recycled steel usage is strong.

The keynote speaker, Mr Rajiv Mangal, CEO, Tata Steel Thailand, made some very insightful observations that made the audience sit up and listen. Iron ore and steel markets are very closely linked to demand for steel in China and any news of demand and supply disruptions affects everybody.

As per the WSA, in the last six months, the growth of steel has been 5%. Asia is up, Europe is down, CIS is flat. In China, what additional volume is coming up is getting consumed. Global players would love to see China staying at a level of 70 million tonnes (MnT) of exports per annum. “The key question is will exports out of China stay at 70 MnT? Or will it go up? Because it will impact all of us,” Mangal said.

Emissions norms are impacting the auto sector. In January to July, 2019 auto production and sales in China are down by 13% and 11% respectively and in India by 11%in April-July, 2019, resulting in flat products consumption by 14%.

So, first, will long products deliver better returns under the present circumstances? Is there an opportunity for billet manufacturers and suppliers?

Secondly, where iron ore is concerned because of the Vale dam collapse, we saw iron ore crossing $120 per tonne. The natural band is $60-70 per tonne. But, we have seen prices hovering around $100 per tonne. This increase has happened at a time when the steel consuming industries are not in a good shape which is impacting profitability of steel makers.

Thirdly, given the shrinking profitability of steel manufacturing, how long will iron ore prices stay high and where will they settle in the next few months, he asked.

At the session on Chinese Steel Scrap & EAF Market, 2020, Hongmei Li, Head of Editorial, Mysteel Global, speaking about China’s steel industry of “tomorrow”, said, steel capacity will rise from 1.13 million tonnes per annum to below 1 billion tonnes per annum while capacity utilisation will rise 10% from the present 70% to 80%, in order for the mills to survive. Total energy consumption will decrease by -12 kg per tonne. She also said the mills will have to seek out niche markets as well as explore investment opportunities abroad.

Revealing that scrap utilization ratio in China is 20.5%, Mr Li Shubin, Vice President of China Association of Metalscrap Utilisation (CAMU), said that is far behind that of US, Japan and EU. Of course, there are policies under way to increase scrap production and scrap utilization.

Qian Yi, speaking on the growth of EAF in Chinese steelmaking, said, environmental protection-related efforts underpinned the steel market. But that there is still room for electric steel production capacity growth in China.

Gordon Johnson, Managing Director, Vertical Group, USA, focused on US steel market and trade talks with China. He did a health check of the US steel market. He dwelt on US HRC spot price trends that got ugly “real fast”. And, as would be expected, after peaking at USD290 per short tonne, fell 41% through July 11, 2019. He further said China’s economy seems to have caught the flu.”China’s economy is declining … and we don’t see additional aggressive stimulus in the offing,” he said.

At the Technical Session, Sanjay Dasgupta, AVP, Sales, Danieli India, spoke about evolution of EAF as a sustainable steel-making route. Speaking about the flexible evolution of EAF, he dwelt on charge flexibility, scrap usage through ECS technology, technological packages aiding opex and productivity and environmental benefits.

Satadri Chanda, Executive Director, EMT Megatherm, focused on the green furnace: energy efficient and green steelmaking through IF. He stressed that the future is on clean steel. “With new technologies like neutral lining, refining fluxes and other refining techniques control over phosphorus and sulphur should soon be possible via the induction furnace route,” he said.

SteelMint Events also launched the features-rich conference app.

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