OF STAINLESS STEEL MAKING COULD DEVELOP IN NORTH AMERICA
announced project to build a new stainless steel plant in the US has
caused quite some stirrings. Although North American mills are
running full-out this year, the prospect of a new competitor with up
to 1 million tonnes of additional capacity may give them some
Plans include melting and hot rolling
capacity for 4.5 million tonnes of carbon steel and 1 million tonnes
of stainless steel.
It is far from clear whether the North
American market has room for new domestic supply on this scale.
After Allegheny Ludlum acquired Arcelor’s US stainless subsidiary
J&L in 2004, there were some expectations that this would lead
to capacity rationalisation. But in fact Allegheny continues to
operate the former J&L melt shop at Midland, Pa, and also the
cold rolling mills there and at Louisville, Ohio. Moreover, less
than 200,000 tonnes per year of melting capacity was eliminated from
the market with the bankruptcy of Canada’s Atlas Stainless a
couple of years ago.
But at the same time, North American
Stainless – part of the Spanish Acerinox group – has continued
to expand its works in Kentucky. NAS has increasingly come to
dominate the market for 304 and other commodity grades of stainless,
while Allegheny and AK Steel attempt to focus more on special
NAS is already working on plans to raise
melting capacity by 40 percent to 1.4 million tonnes per year. Some
of the extra supply will go into stainless long products. The
company will also increase cold rolled strip output by adding a
If ThyssenKrupp plans to produce mostly
commodity grades at its new stainless plant, then it will be
competing head-on with NAS.
The timing of the proposed installation is
unclear. It may be that the additional capacity would be brought on
stream in stages. But there is certainly a risk that over-supply
would be created.
It has been reported that the entire
project hinges on whether TK gets control of Dofasco. If it does,
the US hot strip mill proposal will be dropped and it is possible
that the stainless project would suffer the same fate.
Source: MEPS - Stainless
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