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China's steel capacity utilization average 80% in 2019: NBS

Dienstag, 21 Januar 2020

The average utilization rate of China's ferrous smelting and processing industry reached 80% in 2019, up two percentage points from 2018, data from the National Bureau of Statistics released Monday showed.

S&P Global Platts analysis showed that the average utilization rate of Chinese pig iron and crude steelmaking capacity reached 80% and 82%, respectively, in 2019, up by two percentage points and three percentage points year on year.

The climb in the utilization rates, especially those of pig iron and crude steelmaking capacity, were not profit driven, but were mainly because China's environmental protection constraints on steel production were largely relaxed in 2019.

The output cut orders for environmental protection reasons have been lightened since the start of 2019, while the implementation of such orders has been poor. The relaxation was partly due to the growing downward pressure on China's economic growth, and also because environmental protections at most Chinese mills have more or less improved.

In 2019, China's iron and steelmaking capacity expansion eroded the industry's profitability, despite the strong end-user demand from property construction.

NBS reported the overall profit of the ferrous smelting and processing industry decreased 42.3% year on year to Yuan 235.29 billion ($34.37 billion) in January-November 2019. Meanwhile, the average profit margins of Chinese rebar and hot rolled coil in 2019 decreased by 53% and 70% year on year to $62/mt and $34/mt, respectively, according to Platts analysis.

In 2020, the Chinese pig iron and crude steelmaking capacity utilization rate is unlikely to rise much further, partly as the environmental protection constraints on steel production has already been relaxed in 2019, and partly because China's steel demand may increase just mildly in 2020 due to the slowing growth rate of property new starts.

-- Analyst Jing Zhang

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