China’s stainless steel production is expected to rise by 2.1% this year to more than 30 million tonnes amid robust demand for the corrosion-resistant metal. Apparent stainless steel consumption in China, the biggest market, is set to rise by 6.4% to 25.5 million tonnes this year, according to the Stainless Steel Council of China Special Steel Enterprises Association.
After a 14.1 per cent drop in the first quarter due to the coronavirus outbreak, China’s stainless steel consumption recovered quickly in the second quarter and is set to record stable growth in the second half of the year, Reuters reported.
China’s stainless steel imports – which mostly come from Indonesia, where Chinese firms including top producer Tsingshan Holding Group have mills – were up 24.3 per cent year-on-year at 1.1 million tonnes in the first nine months of 2020, while exports fell by 12.4 per cent to 2.37 million tonnes over that period.
The decline in Chinese exports was due to trade disputes between China and the United States, EU, Japan and South Korea, which have led to imposition of duties on shipments
Meanwhile, as reported here, independent coking plants in North and East China have announced their intention to raise metallurgical coke prices again by Yuan 50/tonne ($7.5/t). The coke makers’ latest demand for higher prices leverages the continuing tight availability of coke and the planned elimination of small-sized and inefficient coking plants in North China’s Shanxi, according to sources.
Some Chinese steel mills with affiliated coking plants have lifted their coking operations to full capacity while they still need to purchase external coke to meet high consumption. On the other hand, for those mills without their own coking ovens, they have little power or advantage in price negotiations, though the margins on finished steel have been lower than on coke.