To many, 2020 will be remembered as their most challenging in memory but not to China Baowu Steel Group.
Instead, this year will be regarded as outstanding and a milestone year for the top Chinese steel producer in that it formally and grandly celebrated reaching the benchmark of 100 million tonnes of steel output for the whole year by December 23, or eight days before the year ends.
The achievement marks its formal and indisputable ascension of the Shanghai-headquartered steelmaker as the world’s largest steel producer over ArcelorMittal.
With production at 100 million tonnes, Baowu alone now produces more steel than most countries worldwide. This year, the steelmaker’s output will even top that of the world’s second- and third-largest steel producing countries – India and Japan.
Baowu’s milestone has also served as a concrete example of what China has achieved in enhancing concentration in its steel industry, even though it has failed to hit the target of the country’s top ten steel mills contributing 60% of total steel production by the end of its 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020).
Baowu’s celebration of 100 million tonnes seemed to have been long planned, as the company held a grand concert to mark the occasion on the very night of December 23, sharing via the real-time video of its 100 millionth tonne of steel being melted in its 300-t No. 1 converter in Shanghai, the symbolic facility that generated the first furnace of steel for Baosteel Group in September 1985 when the company commenced operations, according to Baowu’s posting.
Baowu was formed through the merger of Baosteel Group and Wuhan Iron & Steel Group in December 2016.
Over the past more than two decades, no one would have imagined the explosive growth in China’s crude steel output, as the country’s total national steel output exceeded just 100 million tonnes back in 1996, while by 2020, its steel total output will most definitely exceed 1 billion tonnes, Mysteel Global understands.
The question now lies in what Baowu or China aims to achieve in the next ten years in the aspect of steelmaking. The country is almost 99% self-sufficient in steel supply, but it is by no means carbon neutral, despite that six steel mills had met the central government’s tough “ultra-low emission” standards by late December.
The world’s curiosity has again been renewed about China’s steel market outlook, speculating whether scrap will become the second “iron ore”, with China’s steel output most probably remaining high but with greater attention paid to the eco-friendliness of production.
(Written by Hongmei Li, firstname.lastname@example.org; Edited by Russ McCulloch, email@example.com)