STEEL PRODUCERS SET TO ACTIVELY PROMOTE NICKEL-FREE GRADES
The global stainless steel
scene is changing rapidly. Customer backlash against the rising cost
of nickel has been taken on board by the producers. Mills are now
taking seriously market demand for low or non nickel grades.
Posco has launched a nickel free stainless
steel into its portfolio. This follows similar actions earlier by
Japanese producers. Outokumpu, which has traditionally been mainly a
supplier of austenitic grades, is to increase its production of
ferritic types. This has involved a significant investment in new
equipment. Output of ferritic grades is also to be expanded from the
new melting shop at Lianzhong, in China.
Global supplies of 300 series material have
in the past formed 75 percent of total stainless deliveries. It is
interesting to note that Thyssen Krupp recently announced that it
may lift output of nickel free steel from the existing figure of 30
percent up to 35 percent. We have reports that an Arcelor Mittal
senior executive sees the potential to push up production of non
nickel grades to 70 percent in the long term.
The growth in nickel demand in the future
is likely to be slower than the overall expansion of the stainless
steel sector. This is even more probable now that the producers are
investing in new facilities to manufacture ferritic specifications.
This fresh capacity will be actively promoted by the mills which was
not the case in the past.
This situation proves the point that clever
speculation on the LME can only work for a limited period. Any
commodity can be priced to unacceptable levels but eventually market
fundamentals will prevail. When the price of a product becomes
excessive, buyers will seek out substitute materials or in this case
Source: MEPS - Stainless
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