Global crude steel production, based on the output in 64 countries that report to the World Steel Association (worldsteel), increased 3.6 per cent in 2021 to 1,191.9 million tonnes (mt) compared with a 0.9 per cent output drop in 2020. 

In 2020, global crude steel production declined to 1,864.0 mt from 1,880.92 mt in 2019. 

The increase in global production is despite a drop in Chinese production last year, while India continued to hold on to its position as the second-largest crude steel producer. 

In its latest data, worldsteel said crude steel production dropped three per cent in December compared with the same month a year ago to 157.8 mt, with China, Turkey and Brazil being the main drags. 

Signs of recovery

China has been a major spoilsport in keeping crude steel output on leash in 2021. Beijing saw its production drop for the sixth consecutive month, though the 6.8 per cent output decline was a sign of things returning near normalcy compared with the 22 per cent dip seen in November and 23.8 per cent in October. 

Chinese steel production recovery is reflected in the steel prices that have gained nearly three per cent since the beginning of this year. On Thursday, a steel rebar was quoted at 4,731 Chinese yuan ($725.27) a tonne. 

Other commodities related to the steel sector, such as iron ore and coking coal, have also gained handsomely since the beginning of 2021. Iron ore for March delivery on Dalian Commodity Exchange was quoted at 780 yuan ($122.8) a tonne, up 14 per cent year-to-date, while coking coal, which has gained about 30 per cent, on the same exchange for delivery in March was ruling at 2,349 yuan ($370.5) a tonne. 

Overall, China produced 1,032.8 mt of crude steel in 2021, which was three per cent lower than 2020. In December 2021, its output shrunk to 86.2 mt. 

India output up 17.8 per cent

India emerged as the second-largest producer in 2021, with its output rising by 17.8 per cent to 118.1 mt. In December, India’s crude steel production increased 0.9 per cent to 10.4 mt. 

Japan was the third-largest producer, with its output rising nearly 15 per cent in 2021 to 96.3 mt. In December, its production increased 5.4 per cent to 7.9 mt. 

The US was the next largest producer. Its crude steel output was up 18.3 per cent at 86 mt. In December, its production increased 11.9 per cent to 7.2 mt. 

Last month, Turkey’s crude steel production slipped 2.3 per cent to 3.3 mt, while Brazil’s output declined by 11.4 per cent to 2.6 per cent.