TATA Steel appoints Mr H Jha as new director in South Wales
   

Steel giant TATA has hired a new director to lead its operations in Port Talbot and Llanwern. Mr Hridayeshwar Jha has taken over from Mr Jon Ferriman who has become TATA's technical director in Europe. The news comes as TATA's latest quarterly results revealed the firm's European operations suffered a 9.7% drop in turnover down to GBP 2.16 billion for the three months to the end of June. Mr Jha was formerly MD of Tayo Rolls Limited, a TATA Steel engineering business which specializes in vital components for strip steelmaking. He has had many roles in TATA Steel since joining the company in 1979, including senior engineering and managerial roles at the Jamshedpur steelworks and at the company's mining operations in India.
Mr Jha was the company's VP responsible for the new green field steel plant being built at Kalinganagar in Odisha state from April 2010 before becoming VP in October last year. Mr Hans Fischer chief technical officer of TATA Steel in Europe said that Mr Ferriman brings knowledge, experience and leadership skills into his new role. He also welcomed Mr Jha into his position and added that "We are delighted to have been able to appoint someone of Mr Jha experience to realize the benefits of the capital investments made in South Wales and continue to improve the products and services we provide to our customers.”

  Steel & Tube holdings profit up by 19pct FY
   

Steel & Tube Holdings, the steel building products firm whose majority shareholder exited its holding last October, posted a 19% gain in full-year profit, meeting estimates, as costs fell more than sales.
The Lower Hutt-based company in a statement said that profit was USD 15.6 million, or 17.8% a share, in the 12 months ended June 30th from USD 13.1 million, or 14.9%, a year earlier. Sales fell to USD 393 million from USD 405 million. Profit of USD 15.3 million was expected, according to First NZ Capital. It said that Steel & Tube is likely to be a key beneficiary of the rebuild of Christchurch and building activity in Auckland but the company reported mixed results across the country. Momentum in construction activity in Christchurch dissipated in the H2 compared to the first six months of the financial year half and with the exception of Auckland most other regions remained subdued.
Still, the lower activity was against a domestic backdrop of growing optimism” and overall the second-half performance eclipsed the H1.
Steel & Tube doesn't release the notes to its results until it publishes its annual report and executives weren't immediately available to explain a 4.5% decline in cost of sales to USD 309.5 million. It held most other expenses unchanged from 2012 levels.

  Korean steelmakers decided to raise the prices of steel bars
   

Pressed by an increase in scrap metal prices and a decline in productivity, major Korean steelmakers have decided to raise the price of steel bars. The move was expected to face much industry resistance as it comes amid sluggish market conditions. Officials said that Hyundai Steel and Dongkuk Steel, the nation's second and third largest steel companies respectively, are to raise the unit price per ton from the current KRW 720,000 to KRW 740,000. According to the Korea Iron & Steel Association, put together, the two steel manufacturers form about half of the domestic steel bar market. An official of Hyundai Steel said that “The price increase is in fact quite inevitable as we long reached our limits, with the steady price decrease of steel products.” Official said that also, the government's recent electricity saving campaigns have dented general productivity, which eventually led to the price increase. According to officials, the new price is expected to take effect within the month, though final details are still under discussion. However, the country's top steelmaker POSCO appeared to be more cautious about raising prices. An official of POSCO said that “Though we recently increased the purchasing price of scrap metal, this does not mean that we are to immediately raise the market price of our steel products.”

  AK Steel close coke plant structures to come down
   

Officials said that several structures at the closed AK Steel coke plant on Winchester Avenue will come down in a controlled demolition using explosives Sunday morning. The demolition will force the closure of US 23 and US 60 for a short time Sunday morning. About 100 people lost their jobs when the coke plant closed in 2011. AK Steel hired NCM Demolition and Redemption of Charlotte, NC, last year to tear down the plant. Fire broke out at the plant December 31st 2012, in an area where contract employees were working. Mr Mike Wallner general manager of communication and public relations, AK Steel, said that "AK Steel permanently closed its Ashland coke plant in 2011 because it was no longer cost competitive due to increased maintenance and increasingly stringent environmental regulations.”
Mr Wallner said, "We continue to move forward with our efforts to demolish the former coke plant in a safe and responsible manner so that the property may be redeveloped and used for another job-creating purpose in the Ashland community." He said that the purpose of the work is to get the site ready for redevelopment. It's a great site. Mayor Mr Chuck Charles said, "We have some prospects. I plan to meet with (US) Sen. (Mitch) Mr McConnell to see if we can get the Kentucky Environmental Protection Agency to oversee the cleanup. Hopefully that will expedite the redevelopment and the site could be available in about a year.”

  South Korean firms believed to be dumping steel pipe in US – USITC

An independent US trade panel said that there is evidence that South Korean manufacturers are selling steel pipe used by oil and natural gas producers at unfairly low prices in the US market.
The US International Trade Commission said that "There is a reasonable indication that a US industry is materially injured by reason of imports of certain oil country tubular goods from South Korea, India, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam.”
Its assessment gives the green light for the US Commerce Department to continue an investigation into allegations that firms from the 9 nations are dumping their products in the US.
Indian and Turkish companies are also allegedly subsidized by their governments.
However, the Commerce Department is scheduled to deliver a preliminary ruling on countervailing duties on or about September 25th and anti-dumping duties on or about December 9th, with a final decision due next year.

  Malaysia Steel expected to see its net profit in next 3 years
   

Malaysia Steel Works Bhd is expected to see its net profit accelerate at a strong double digit growth in the next 3 years on the back of the group's expansion plans, which would help enhance its operating margin despite steel product prices remain subdued. Mr Chong Hoe Leong, PublicInvest Research analyst, said that Masteel's net profit is likely grow in the range of 22% to 30% for financial years ended December 31st 2013 to 2015 as it ramps up its production capacity in the upstream and downstream segments. This is based on PublicInvest in-house assumption of MYR 1,850 per tonne and MYR 2,000 per tonne for billet and rebar respectively, coupled with Masteel management's guidance of 85% utilization rate of its production plants.
For Q1FY13, Masteel recorded a MYR 3.6 million net profit and Chong expects the group's net profit growth will be much stronger in the remaining quarters. Currently, Masteel is expanding its capacity for upstream and downstream products as it foresees better demand for steel products in the coming years. As the steel industry is highly tied to the performance of the construction sector and is cyclical in nature, Chong noted that Masteel has cautiously expanded its capacity to improve its operating margins through better economies of scale. The group has earmarked MYR 180 million to increase its billet plant capacity with an additional 50,000 tonnes by 2014, while also increasing its rolling mill capacity by 50,000 tonnes per year to 550,000 tonnes. Mr Chong said that "When the upgrade and expansion works have been fully completed, Masteel's ratio of steel bar to billet annual production will be equally the same. The expansion plan will augur well for the company's future growth given that its utilization rate for the last three years has hit above 80%. All the expansion is expected to cater to on-going local demand.”

  US trade panel approves import probe of steel pipe from 9 countries
   

US trade panel recently approved a Commerce Department investigation that could lead to steep duties on steel pipe from South Korea, India and 7 other countries that is used in oil and natural gas production and which domestic manufacturers say is being sold in the United States at unfairly low prices. The US International Trade Commission voted 6 to 0 that there was a reasonable indication that U.S. manufacturers are injured by imports of "oil country tubular goods" from the nine countries. That allowed the probe to proceed.
The Commerce Department launched the investigation last month, acting on a petition filed by US Steel, Maverick Tube Corporation, TMK IPSCO and other manufacturers who accuse their foreign competitors of unfairly undercutting US prices to grab sales and market share. The main US steel industry group, the American Iron and Steel Institute, praised the vote.
Mr Thomas Gibson president of US Steel said that "US companies and their workers deserve to have a fair shake, and we applaud today's vote as an important move towards providing US steel producers relief from unfairly traded OCTG imports." But a rival organization representing steel importers criticized the action, arguing the US OCTG sector is currently profitable even if some overly aggressive suppliers created an inventory overhang in the US market.
Mr David Phelps president of the American Institute for International Trade said that "With a profitable and growing industry in the US, along with growing demand for OCTG from all sources, domestic and imported, this is not an industry that needs trade protection." However, the Commerce Department will make a preliminary decision on duties in coming months and a final decision in 2014.

Malaysia Steel expected to see its net profit in next 3 years
   

Malaysia Steel Works Bhd is expected to see its net profit accelerate at a strong double digit growth in the next 3 years on the back of the group's expansion plans, which would help enhance its operating margin despite steel product prices remain subdued. Mr Chong Hoe Leong, PublicInvest Research analyst, said that Masteel's net profit is likely grow in the range of 22% to 30% for financial years ended December 31st 2013 to 2015 as it ramps up its production capacity in the upstream and downstream segments.
This is based on PublicInvest in-house assumption of MYR 1,850 per tonne and MYR 2,000 per tonne for billet and rebar respectively, coupled with Masteel management's guidance of 85% utilization rate of its production plants. For Q1FY13, Masteel recorded a MYR 3.6 million net profit and Chong expects the group's net profit growth will be much stronger in the remaining quarters. Currently, Masteel is expanding its capacity for upstream and downstream products as it foresees better demand for steel products in the coming years. As the steel industry is highly tied to the performance of the construction sector and is cyclical in nature, Chong noted that Masteel has cautiously expanded its capacity to improve its operating margins through better economies of scale. The group has earmarked MYR 180 million to increase its billet plant capacity with an additional 50,000 tonnes by 2014, while also increasing its rolling mill capacity by 50,000 tonnes per year to 550,000 tonnes. Mr Chong said, "When the upgrade and expansion works have been fully completed, Masteel's ratio of steel bar to billet annual production will be equally the same. The expansion plan will augur well for the company's future growth given that its utilization rate for the last three years has hit above 80%. All the expansion is expected to cater to on-going local demand.”

Taiwanese rebar exports decrease in July
   

According to statistics, Taiwan's rebar exports totaled 3,900 tonne in July, lower than 4,400 tonne in a month ago. However, the country's rebar export prices averaged at TWD 18,835 per tonne in July, falling by TWD 416 per tonne from June. In the first seven months of 2013, Taiwan's rebar exports amounted to 34,000 tonne.

Hyundai Motor union to hold partial strike before talks
   

Union members at Hyundai Motor Company, South Korea's largest automaker, will stage a partial strike today and tomorrow as they demand higher wages amid increasing competition with Japanese carmakers. The union said that the Seoul based company's 45,000 guild members will down tools for 2 hours during each of the 2 day shifts today and tomorrow, the union said in a text message yesterday. Hyundai and its union will resume wage talks on August 22nd.
The strikes take place as the weaker yen gives Japanese automakers an edge in cutting prices or offering better incentives. Stalled wage talks at Hyundai Motor last year led to the costliest walkout in its history, before management agreed to reduce working hours with 2 shorter day shifts. The workers have gone on strike in 22 of the past 26 years. Mr Lee Sang Hyun, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities Co., said that “It's bad news for Hyundai as it marks the official start of yet another strike season. Still, the strikes aren't expected to last long nor incur more damage than last year's walkouts did especially due to the shorter working hours.”
Hyundai declined 0.9% to KRW 234,500 in Seoul trading yesterday. Affiliate Kia Motors Corporation was unchanged at KRW 62,900. The benchmark Kospi index fell 0.1%. Hyundai and Kia's labor unions have said that they're demanding a pay increase of KRW 130,498 a month and for 305 of net income to be distributed to workers. The talks started May 28th for Hyundai and July 2nd for Kia.

Japanese iron and steel output down by 3.2pct in June
   

In June 2013, Japan's seasonally adjusted industrial production decreased 3.1% from the previous month, while the original index indicated a decrease of 4.6% compared to the same month last year. According to the revised Indices of Industrial Production report published by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, in June the Japanese iron and steel production index decreased 3.2% YoY, while Japan's seasonally adjusted iron and steel production index fell 3.8% in June compared to May. However, in June Japanese producers' iron and steel shipments fell by 5.4% and iron and steel inventories were up by 4.4%, both compared to the previous month. On YoY basis, the producers' iron and steel shipments fell by 3.6%, while iron and steel inventories in Japan were up by 13.9% in June. In the month in question, the seasonally adjusted crude steel production index including semi-finished steel in Japan decreased by 4.9% compared to the previous month and was up by 1.1% on YoY basis.

Good for steel and good for all - Mr Gibson
   

Mr Thomas J Gibson president of the American Iron and Steel Institute said that the US steel industry is the solutions provider for energy development, as the pipe and tube products that steelmakers produce are integral to the exploration, production and transmission of natural gas and oil. Mr Gibson said that despite our world leading levels of energy efficiency, the steel industry consumes substantial amounts of energy each year.
He said that domestic steel manufacturers, including many in Pennsylvania, face challenges on the energy front. We are subject to intense international competition, often against industry in countries where energy costs are subsidized. Regulatory policies enacted on energy providers raise costs for steel companies and threaten our competitiveness. Congress must craft a national energy policy that ensures low costs for domestic manufacturers and allows the steel industry to maximize productivity and international competitiveness.
Congress can accomplish this by fully developing domestic natural gas, oil, coal and nuclear power; ensuring that federal regulations do not unilaterally raise the cost of domestic energy sources; harnessing the benefits of natural gas from shale formations; and approving the Keystone XL pipeline. Development of these resources means greater demand for steel. That translates into more jobs in Pennsylvania, and that's good for everyone.

Steel Fab plans pressure tank manufacturing in Russell County
   

Steel Fab plans to open a pressure tank manufacturing facility in Russell County that will create 50 jobs. Governor Mr Bob McDonnell said that Steel Fab will invest USD 1.5 million in the operation, which will be located in Lebanon. Steel Fab is a division of Wisconsin-based Samuel Pressure Vessel Group. The parent company is Ontario-based Samuel, Son & Company, Limited. Steel Fab said that the Russell County operation will allow it to organize and optimize production in one facility. The company also will be able to expand its product line into larger pressure vessel tanks. Mr McDonnell approved a USD 100,000 grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund to assist Russell County with the project.

New steel processing facility opening up in Woodstock
   

A new steel manufacturing company is setting up shop in Woodstock, which could mean dozens of new jobs in the area. Trans-Mit Steel has purchased a 5 acre piece of property at the Commerce Way Business Park for a 70,000 square feet steel processing facility. Construction is expected to begin in the fall. Mr Brad Hammond, an economic development officer for the City of Woodstock, said that “It is definitely a large investment from my viewpoint. It is as big as the addition that is going on with North American Stamping Group. It would be among some of our larger industrial buildings.” Mr Hammond could not provide an exact figure for how many new jobs could be created but said based on similar-sized facilities, there could be as many as 35.
He said that “The company hasn't said for sure they will do a more formal announcement in the future.” Mitsui, the Japanese company that owns Trans-Mit Steel, also runs 2 other operations in Woodstock- Steel Technologies and Transfreight.
Mr Hammond said “[Mitsui is] involved in everything from banking to trucking to manufacturing to basically you name it. They have divisions all over the world.” He said that “I know one thing they really liked was the location in terms of giving them access to all of their customers that are located at the crossroads, the 401 and the 403.” He added that “I think to some degree too, they've dealt with the city before, they have a couple of other investments here and they know the type of service we provide and how we treat our businesses and obviously they have been happy with that.” He further added that as part of the deal, Trans-Mit Steel has a right of first refusal for 3 acres of adjacent land, which means over the next 2 years, the city must first approach Trans-Mit Steel before selling that land.

Oskam Steel plant to create 50 new jobs at Port Colborne
   

Oskam Steel Fabricators Limited is undergoing an extensive plant expansion that will create up to 50 new jobs in Port Colborne. The company that specializes in custom steel fabrication, modular skid manufacturing and plant maintenance will be adding more than 1,620 square metres of manufacturing space to its existing plant at Elm St. and Rosedale Ave. Oskam will use 0.48 hectares of land purchased from the City of Port Colborne, as well as lands adjacent to the plant for the expansion. The new building will be used for final assembly for modular skid manufacturing and to make more room for steel fabrication in the existing facilities.
However, construction is expected to begin shortly after the company obtains permits, which it is in the process of doing. Mr Kevin Langerak, operations and plant manager, said that “As we continue to grow our business, the new space will allow us to take on more work and let us add efficiencies to stay competitive.” Mr Langerak said that “We have built our reputation and success on the calibre of our products and the skill of the trades professionals who work with us, and are proud to have assembled one of the finest teams in Niagara.”
He said that “As a result of the dedication and commitment of the people in our shop, our company is growing and strong. It feels good to be able to say that together, as a company and employees alike, we all share credit for bringing jobs to Port Colborne's economy.”
Mayor Mr Vance Badawey said that “As a leader in its field, Oskam's solid growth and outstanding reputation reflect well on our city.” Mr Badawey said that “Their expansion elevates our manufacturing cluster while highlighting our community's priority of business expansion and retention. Having good jobs close to home strengthens our economic strategy, helping make our community a desirable place to live, work and play.”

  European steel industry in deep crisis
   

European steel industry is in deep crisis. Several major corporations have already announced thousands of layoffs due to overcapacity and shrinking markets. The whole industry in Europe is being completely reorganized. Almost all steel companies in Europe are currently taking huge losses. The European steel industry has suffered from declining demand for more than 2 years. Demand for steel has dropped by almost 30 percent compared to the period before the outbreak of the world economic crisis in 2008. The most recent figures make clear there is no likelihood this trend will be reversed. In the H1 of 2013, the demand for steel in the EU declined by 5.7%. The US, which remains one of the most important markets for steel, experienced a decline of 5.6%. These figures were recently announced by Aditya Mittal, CFO of the world's largest steel producer, ArcelorMittal.
Excess capacity has grown enormously in recent years due to the decline in demand. An Austrian industry magazine reported that steel companies currently receive returns less than the cost of production for rolled steel products.
According to the OECD, the current production capacity within the EU exceeds demand by more than a third. The decline in demand is mainly due to the sharp fall in activity on the part of two major steel customers construction and the auto industry. This decrease is not merely a consequence of the economic crisis but results directly from the austerity policies of the European Union.
Order books for the construction industry in southern Europe are virtually empty. In past years, many orders came from the state and were financed from the public budget. The commitment to a strict austerity policy means that investments have dried up in many regions. The effects of the economic crisis on private households are also clearly a factor, although precise figures are hard to find. Nevertheless, it is clear that far fewer families than previously are able to afford a new home. The slump in household incomes has had an even more disastrous affect on the auto industry. ACEA said that car sales in Europe last year were the lowest since 1995 and auto sales are expected to decline again this year: the H1 of 2013 recorded a drop of 6.7% compared with the same period last year.
In light of these figures, the European steel industry is preparing for a massive restructuring programme linked to direct attacks on workers' jobs, wages and social benefits. ArcelorMittal has already closed plants in Belgium, France and Spain. Now, closure threatens the steel production plant in Liège, Belgium, once one of the largest and oldest steel mills in Europe. In southern Italy, the Ilva plant in Taranto the biggest in Europe is also a candidate for closure. However, Germany's 2o largest steel companies, ThyssenKrupp and Salzgitter, have also announced plans for mass redundancies. ThyssenKrupp currently employs about 150,000 workers worldwide but is suffering large losses with its subsidiary, Steel Americas, in addition to the slump in European demand. ThyssenKrupp plans to sell off its 2 plants in Brazil and the United States, but it remains unclear whether a buyer can be found. As a result, the company announced its intention to axe 2,000 from its European workforce of 28,000. Another 1,800 could also be eliminated by divestiture procedures.

  ArcelorMittal to restart expansion project in Brazil
   

Steel giant ArcelorMittal said that it plans to restart an expansion project at its Monlevade and Juiz de Fora sites in Brazil. The project expansion is expected to increase the annual production capacity from 3.75 million tonne to 4.9 million tonne. Monlevade is expected to produce 1.05 million tonne per year of coil on capital investment of USD 140 million. The expanded wire rod from Monlevade is expected to enhance supply of added value products mainly to the domestic construction and automotive industries. On the other hand, Rebar capacity at Juiz de Fora will also be increased from 50,000 tonne to 400,000 tonne a year and the site's melt shop will produce an extra 200,000 tonne of billets per year using its new ladle and new sixth strand in the continuous caster. Additional rebar at the Juiz de Fora site is expected to go into downstream cut and bend operations and to civil construction end users. However, ArcelorMittal expects demand to resume in Brazil and, based on this, the company restarted its wire rod mill expansion. This USD 108 million project is expected to be completed in two phases with the first phase mainly aimed at downstream facilities while the upstream portion of the investment remains on hold. Project start-up is scheduled for 2015.