Friday, September 04, 2009
Hook and loop fasteners have become commonplace features of both industry and households. However, they have one snag: they are too weak for many applications. Hook and loop fasteners made of spring steel have now been developed at the Institute of Metal Forming and Casting of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen. These fasteners are resistant to chemicals and can withstand a tensile load of up to 35 tonnes per square meter at temperatures as high as 800°C.
Spring Steel Velco, that's what we're talking about here.
Temperatures in excess of 800 °C and aggressive chemical solutions do not pose any problem for Metaklett, which also offers adhesive strength of up to 35 tonnes per square meter when tensile force is applied parallel to the fastener surface. When it is applied perpendicular to the fastener surface, Metaklett can still withstand a force of seven tonnes per square meter. Moreover, like a standard Velcro® fastener on a child’s shoe, it can be opened and closed again without the help of any tools.
You can read the original press release from TUM (Technical University of Munich) in English . A German language version is also available on that page. Use the language buttons in the upper right corner.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
A very slow, very tentative recovery just might be leaving the train station in the next 3 months. Let's do everything we can to just nip that in the bud by raising prices into a slow, painful, crippled recovery!
Major steelmakers in the US have announced a series of transaction price hikes over recent weeks for strip mill products. These are steadily being implemented. There is little import competition to prevent further increases being applied. Certainly, distributors are keen for the proposed rises to take hold as they will produce benefits in terms of stock valuation. Nevertheless, market players are concerned that the price recovery might not be sustainable if the mills prematurely restart idled facilities. Service centre business is still down by 40/50 percent with only a small percent increase in activity, most probably due to the price advances. The economy remains depressed, leading to a persistently low level of steel consumption.
Canadian transaction values have bottomed, prompting us to record a number of rises this month. The domestic mills believe that destocking may be complete.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Canada is launching a full court press in the U.S. Congress today against the Buy American provisions in the federal stimulus spending law.
The action is part of the ongoing campaign by our federal government to get the U.S. government to drop Buy America provisions that force U.S. municipalities and states to use American steel and manufacturing exclusively for projects paid by U.S. taxpayers.
The provisions are believed not to contravene international trade agreements because states and municipalities are sub-national jurisdictions and not subject to trade deals.
Sounds pretty weasily, doesn't it? Sure we have these NAFTA provisions, and they apply to you, but they don't apply to our states and municipalities. One wonders how Free Trade can have so many different meanings to different people.
U.S. Steel bought Stelco and made record profits last year. Then the Americans ruined the world economy and U.S. Steel shut down the Hamilton and Lake Erie works, moved all our orders -- including Canadian orders -- to Pittsburgh, Alabama and Indiana
[...] what follows is some discussion of how US Steel got around NAFTA rules. But the sting is in the tail
What really hurts is our Canadian-born USWA president Leo Gerard not only backs this "Buy American" approach, but used union dues to lobby Congress to get the protectionist plan passed at the expense of Canadian workers.
If it were not for Gerard, we might be actually working, making steel at Stelco, rather than hoping our EI won't run out before we start up again.
I don't know about all of it, but at least part of it is true. Leo Gerard was born and raised in a mining family in Sudbury.
Saturday, June 06, 2009
From The Hamilton Spectator TheSpec.com
A single guideline in the Investment Canada Act is “probably the crux” of the dispute between U.S. Steel and the Canadian government, says Industry Minister Tony Clement.
The guideline excuses foreign buyers who are unable to fulfil their commitments under the act due to “factors beyond the control of the investor.”
The question is whether the current economic meltdown qualifies as such a factor in U.S. Steel’s shutdown of the former Stelco.
Clement sent a demand letter to U.S. Steel earlier this month after determining that the temporary closure of its plants in Hamilton and Nanticoke violates promises made under the act. He is now reviewing a response from the Pittsburgh steelmaker that is “about 87 pages in total.”
But he was tight-lipped about the contents of that document today.
“You’ll be hearing from us very shortly,” he said.
And then, again, the sounds of silence.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
From the Canadian Press, via Yahoo Finance News
The Canadian government is warning U.S. Steel it must live up to production commitments at the former Stelco Inc. plants in Ontario.
Industry Minister Tony Clement said he has sent a 'demand letter' to the U.S. giant that it's temporary shutdown at plants in Hamilton and Nanticoke, Ont., may be in violation of commitments it made when it bought the Canadian steel producer in 2007.
In Clement's announcement, the minister said the demand letter is the first step in the enforcement process under the Investment Canada Act.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Raw Material Pricing - Party like it's 1999
I was dreamin' when I wrote this
Forgive me if it goes astray
But when I woke up this mornin'
Coulda sworn it was judgment day
As I was doing the research for this article, that tune kept going through my head. The events of the last 6 months do feel more like a dream than reality. Judgment day? We'll talk more about that later in the update series.
Raw materials are a large component of costs for metal stampers. So what has happened to the prices of the most commonly used raw materials?
Metal stampers care most about these input costs:
something to make the steel not rust (usually zinc or nickel)
For Copper, Aluminum, Zinc & Nickel, prices are back down to 2004 levels. In a few cases, even below 2004 levels. See these charts, courtesy of Kitcometals.com
Steel prices are down below 2007 levels.
So it's not 1999, but in a lot of ways, it's 2004 all over again.
What does this mean for stampers? Well, a major input cost has reverted to 5 years ago levels. Is that enough to ensure a return to profitability? Not usually. Stay tuned for the next part of the puzzle.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Finnish metals group Outokumpu Oyj has said it will close a stainless steel plant in Sheffield, laying off all 230 workers, because of oversupply.
A steel company customer has accused eight major steel manufacturers, including Fort Wayne-based Steel Dynamics Inc., of colluding to scale back production to force up prices.
A spokesman for Steel Dynamics on Friday denied the allegation made in a lawsuit filed last week. Also named in the suit is Nucor Corp., which operates plants in St. Joe and Waterloo. ArcelorMittal USA Inc. and its parent company, Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, are listed separately, making eight companies and nine defendants.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago by Standard Iron Works of Scranton, Pa.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Transaction figures are expected to continue climbing in September due to higher raw material costs. However, we predict that the latest increases will signal the peak of the current cycle in western countries as reduced consumption negatively affects demand on the mills. Low construction activity is expected to result in continued cautious buying by service centres. They also fear being left with overpriced material when values begin to fall.
The weakening economies in the EU and North America will, almost certainly, result in reduced demand in the near term from the manufacturing and building industries. Credit constraints are also expected to limit purchases, particularly from smaller customers. Consequently, selling figures are forecast to soften towards the end of the year.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Costs for China's large and medium-size iron and steel manufacturers rose by more than 250 billion yuan ($36.5 billion), or 57.57 percent, in the first half, according to the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA).
The cost hike was due to the soaring prices of materials and fuel, said the CISA, noting the country's iron and steel companies were facing tremendous pressure this year.
The soaring costs resulted in profit falls, with the half-year rate of return on sales for large and medium-size iron and steel suppliers at 7.61 percent, 0.95 percentage points lower than the same period last year.
U. S. Steel Canada is apologetic about its blast furnace belching smoke and coke dust into the air over Hamilton four times in little more than a month.
Spokesman Trevor Harris says the multinational steelmaker that took over Stelco last fall is calling on in-house experts around the world to help local staff and the Ontario Environment Ministry determine what went wrong and how to stop it happening.
'One of the great benefits of being U. S. Steel Canada (instead of stand-alone Stelco) is that we now have access to expertise from literally around the world to try to rectify the problem.'
Sunday, August 24, 2008
The roar of 1,000 motorcycles accompanied a steel beam from the World Trade Center on Saturday as it traveled to Pennsylvania, where it will be part of a memorial to those who died there in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Hundreds of current and retired New York City firefighters left Brooklyn's Floyd Bennett Field at about 7 a.m. to escort the girder on the 311-mile ride to Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The members of the New York City Fire Riders joined a larger group that included bikers from as far away as Georgia. The beam rode on a flatbed truck.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Nabucco, the European Union’s natural gas pipeline project, intended to reduce the bloc’s dependence on Russian natural gas, has been dealt another setback — and this one could hit European consumers in the wallet.
Rising Iron Ore Prices for China will effect Steel Prices
Let's start here:
China’s steel mills shrug off iron ore rise. An amazing feat, if true. I don't know too many industries that can shrug off an 85% increase in a major input cost.
Big steelmakers in China on Tuesday shrugged off the impact of Monday’s record rise in iron ore prices, but the higher prices could increase cost pressures on smaller mills and hasten consolidation in the industry.
The average 85 per cent price increase agreed with Rio Tinto, the Anglo-Australian miner, was within the range of expectations, analysts said. Chinese mills had been expecting a price rise of at least 65 per cent[...]
“They [large and medium-sized steelmakers] can still maintain a long-term pricing system with the Australian miners,” and avoid higher-priced spot market purchases, Ms Wang said.
But analysts said thousands of smaller Chinese mills could be affected if the pricing agreement leads to higher spot prices, hastening consolidation in the steel industry. Smaller mills buy iron ore on the spot market and are unable to lock in prices by annual contract.
If this leads to consolidation of the chinese steel industry, this should lead to higher prices for chinese goods made of steel. The article says a 3% rise in output prices should cover it.
The consolidation effect was predicted already as far back as February, in the China Daily. Iron ore price rise could force China steel rationalization
China imports almost half of the world's seaborne iron ore, making it the largest iron ore consumer in the world, but it has become a price-taker for this basic input for steel -- perhaps because it waited too long to negotiate with major suppliers.
I also blogged on it at the time.
At the end of June, chinastakes.com wrote Iron Ore Price Hike to Swallow Chinese Steel Producers’ Profit
Apart from the iron ore price hike, the coking coal price rise will also lift the production cost of domestic steel producers. [...] With steel companies facing increasingly high production cost, profits are expected to slide in the near future.
Apart from the iron ore price hike, the price of coal and coking coal, as well as transportation costs are also increasing. In December of 2007, the average production cost of steel and pig iron in large and medium-sized steel companies increased by 31.05% over the same period in 2006.
The production cost increase of steel companies, a large part of it a result of the rise in iron ore and coking coal prices, will have a profound influence on the shipbuilding industry, the construction machinery industry, and the household appliances industry.
None of those are directly customers for small and medium sized stamping outfits, but each of those industries utilize loads of smaller stamped metal parts. Where the major manufacturing goes, so goes the little guys.
At the end of June, Mineweb.com said that Chinese dependence on iron ore imports has been growing, and was likely to rise in future.
while China was the world's biggest producer of iron ore at 520mt in 2006, representing almost a third of global production, much of this material is very low grade.
China will become more dependent on imported iron ore in future, despite the fact that its own production of iron ore has been increasing rapidly since the start of the century. Monthly imports have been growing at a much faster pace and are now almost double its own production.
Today, several sources, including Steel on the Net announced that Sinosteel succeeded in its bid to gain control of Australian iron ore miner Midwest. Stock exchange documents show it now has a majority stake in the target company. http://en.ce.cn/Business/Enterprise/200807/12/t20080712_16135812.shtml
See also: Forbes Sinosteel buys controlling stake in Aussie miner
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
So how fitting the first one is about the rebirth of north american steel. Of course, here at Stampingoutaliving, some of the things mentioned in the article have the opposite value for us. For instance, lack of competition and lack of lower cost imports is great if you're a steel company, not so much if you're in a steel-consuming company.
The San Diego Union-Tribune
The U.S. steel industry is enjoying a new era of prosperity less than a decade after crippling production costs and lower-priced imports helped trigger a huge wave of bankruptcies that some thought would leave it permanently tarnished.
Buoyed by sharply reduced employee costs, soaring global demand, dramatic consolidation that has tamped down cutthroat competition and a weakened dollar that has made imports less attractive, steel prices have tripled in the past five years. For the first time in decades, companies operating in the United States have added capacity and workers.
German steel maker ThyssenKrupp is building a $4 billion plant [...]. Nucor has applied for permits to build a $2 billion plant [...]. The Russian giant Severstal recently purchased the Sparrows Point steel plant outside Baltimore [...]
“There hasn't been this much building in 25 to 30 years,” said Michael D. Locker, president of Locker Associates, a steel consulting firm.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Industrial metals lead, zinc and tin fell sharply on Thursday, hit by waning demand and rising stockpiles in warehouses.
While zinc is certainly down from recent highs (as much as $2 in December/January 06/7) to "only" a buck now, it was 50 cents 5 years ago. So we still have some adjusting to do to get back to historical levels.
The other metals are the same story. Copper was $4 recently, now it's "only" $3.67. But 5 years ago, less than a buck.
A year ago nickel touched $25 briefly. It's currently $10, but was $5 5 years ago.
For the first time India has turned into a net importer of steel and the situation will worsen in the years to come.
The U.S. steel industry is enjoying a new era of prosperity less than a decade after crippling production costs and lower-priced imports helped trigger a huge wave of bankruptcies that some thought would leave it permanently tarnished.
Buoyed by sharply reduced employee costs, soaring global demand, dramatic consolidation that has tamped down cutthroat competition and a weakened dollar that has made imports less attractive, steel prices have tripled in the past five years. For the first time in decades, companies operating in the United States have added capacity and workers.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
The soaring cost of fuel is whittling away at the cheap-labour advantage enjoyed by Asian exporters, giving Canadian firms a welcome edge in their fight to win back business from Asian competitors.
Two bank economists argue in a report released Tuesday that because of higher fuel costs, shipping a standard 40-foot container from Shanghai to the east coast of North America now costs $8,000 (U.S.), up from $3,000 in 2000 when oil was just $20 a barrel.
That higher cost is passed on to North American consumers, making goods from China and other Asian places more costly compared to the offerings of domestic North American producers.
Some Canadian manufacturers are already noticing the effect.
Jeffrey Rubin and Benjamin Tal of CIBC World Markets Inc. say higher oil prices are reversing the world-is-flat effect, in which lower trade barriers and new technologies like the Internet made it cheaper to move goods and services from developing Asia to the markets of the rich world.
“In a world of triple-digit oil prices, distance costs money,” they write. “And while trade liberalization and technology may have flattened the world, rising transport prices will once again make it rounder.”
Mr. Rubin and Mr. Tal say the steel sector is a prime example of the world-is-round effect.
Chinese steel exports to the United States are falling by more than 20 per cent year over year. China's costs have risen because Chinese producers have to bring in their iron ore from faraway places such as Australia and Brazil, then ship the finished steel to the United States. As a result, U.S. steel producers actually have an advantage over Chinese rivals.
“This is an environment in which shipping from the Pacific Rim may not make sense any more,” Mr. Tal said in an interview.
“If you're thinking, ‘maybe we should bring in a container from China,' you should think again.”
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Press & Guide
OAO Severstal, one of the world's leading metals and mining companies, announced May 16 that it has reached a binding agreement to purchase WCI Steel, a market leader in the production of value-added steel products based in Warren, Ohio.
According to the terms of the agreement, Severstal will acquire all outstanding equity of WCI for a total cash consideration of $140 million, implying an enterprise value of $327 million based on outstanding net debt as of April 30.
WCI's board has recommended the transaction to its shareholders. Shareholders representing a majority of WCI's diluted shares outstanding have irrevocably consented to the transaction. The acquisition has the full support of the United Steel Workers (USW).
WCI's total annual steel-making capacity of 1.22 million metric tons is focused on high-quality, custom flat-rolled steel for use in demanding applications. Together with Severstal's current U.S. operations in Dearborn, Columbus, Mississippi and the recently acquired Sparrows Point in Baltimore, Md., WCI will grow Severstal's North American leadership in the high-quality, flat-rolled steel segment for the automotive, appliance, furniture, construction and energy markets.
The complementary nature of WCI's manufacturing facility and product offering to Severstal's existing U.S. assets creates potential synergies that together with strong steel industry fundamentals leave WCI poised to add value across Severstal's U.S. platform.
"This acquisition is aligned with Severstal's disciplined approach to growing our U.S. business while creating shareholder value," said Gregory Mason, CEO of Severstal International and COO of OAO Severstal.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Yet another challenge has emerged for the automotive industry: Rapidly rising steel prices.
The price of hot rolled steel has increased from just over $500 a ton in November to $1,080 per ton Thursday.
Prices are soaring because of increasing global demand, a lack of increase in the supply of raw materials used to make the metal, as well as increased energy and transportation costs.
John Hoffecker, managing director of AlixPartners LLC, said Thursday that the cost of steel is rippling through the automotive industry and will likely result in higher vehicle prices because the expense is too large for the industry to absorb by cutting costs and using different materials.
"It's going to hit suppliers, it is going to hit manufacturers, and my view now is it is going to start hitting consumers," Hoffecker said.
At the same time, Ford has now said they will not return to profitability, due in part to steel price increases.
Ford Motor Co. abandoned a target of returning to profit next year because of rising costs for steel and gasoline, a month after Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally said the second-largest U.S. automaker expected to meet its goal.
Monday, May 19, 2008
We often hear a lot of discussion, and rightly so, about the prices of crude oil and the agricultural commodities. Their moves over the last year have, in some cases, been parabolic. Their effect on produced gasoline and food prices are also well documented. Less talked about, but increasingly visible and important, is steel.
Steel prices are continuing to rise, with the alloy's average composite weighted price for all carbon-steel products around $1,000 per metric ton [...]
While the charts certainly look nice, you have to wonder how long companies can continue to increase prices - not only in response to demand, which could decrease, but also with regard to raw material cost, which have been rising. Will costs get so high that demand destruction will occur? Will raw material cost increase faster than companies can increase product prices, thereby reducing profit margins?
Both customers and companies are beginning to take action, but in some cases they are at the mercy of the markets. In Turkey, a number of construction companies are going on strike, protesting price increases. In India, transportation and housing projects have been put on hold. Other countries are limiting the amount of steel that can leave the country as exports, while at the same time freezing prices and reducing tariffs to increase imports. Even oil companies are beginning to worry that they cannot build or obtain the equipment they need to extract the oil that is in such high demand.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
US transaction prices are going through the roof with gains over the last four weeks as high as $US145 per tonne for some products and more substantial hikes planned by the mills for June deliveries. Domestic values have now caught up with average world prices. Although real demand is no more than satisfactory as the economy weakens, supply is being allocated by the local mills. The availability of imports is virtually nil, due to the weak US dollar, high ocean freight rates and soaring prices in other regions. OEM's complain that expected delivery times are not being met. Inventories at the service centres are described as 'low to medium'. They are unlikely to be rebuilt in the short term as buyers are unwilling to speculate when steel is so expensive.
In Canada, domestic order intake is strong. Producers need to offset the large increases in raw materials, such as iron ore and scrap. Consequently transaction values continue to advance, despite alarm amongst customers. Current imports and permits for the future remain low.
All MEPS flat products forecasts have been revised upwards as a result of the staggering 200 percent price rise in coking coal contracts. Scrap figures also rocketed during April. Growing imports for most products will not be sufficient to relieve the tight supply situation in the market in the short term. Consequently, transaction values are expected to climb until the middle of the year.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
In the hollowed-out towns where steel plants once thrived, business and labor are uniting to demand that presidential contenders stand up to a growing threat to American steel — China.
Explosive growth in Chinese steel imports fueled by China's subsidies and questionable trade practices are triggering anti-China sentiments and fears for the future in American communities sustained for decades by the manufacture of steel.
Now, China's threat to American steel towns from Pittsburgh to Granite City is center stage in the debate over trade and globalization.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Since it was announced that iron ore prices would rise by 65 percent, Chinese mills have sought to lift steel values quite substantially. Japanese producers have tabled advances of ¥20,000 per tonne for April deliveries and may even adjust prices further in the third trimester. Market values have already strengthened considerably in the wake of the announcements, amidst tight supply caused in part by buoyant demand from the auto makers.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Italian police said Monday they have seized 30 tons of Chinese-made steel that had been contaminated by a radioactive substance.
The steel had been accidentally mixed during production with cobalt-60
Sunday, March 02, 2008
The USS New York, an amphibious assault ship built with scrap steel from the ruins of the World Trade Center, was christened Saturday as a source of strength and inspiration for the nation.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
PITTSBURG -- Business executives and city leaders officially launched a new steel pipe factory Friday that is being designed to tap into the fast-rising demand for energy in the United States.
The $137 million United Spiral Pipe plant in Pittsburg will produce big steel pipes that are ideally suited for transporting oil and natural gas. The project is a joint venture of U.S. Steel Corp. and two South Korean companies, POSCO and SeAH Steel Corp.
Businesses that use steel for construction and other projects will continue to face high prices during the first half of 2008, despite a continued decline in housing and automobile demand that theoretically should begin to bring prices down.
That was the general consensus among steel industry and government trade officials who spoke Friday at the 19th annual Tampa Steel Conference, which drew more than 400 participants to the Tampa Marriott Waterside.
The price for a ton of cold-rolled steel coil, which now is about $752 in North America, could rise to $900 by April or May, said Tom Stundza, executive editor of the trade journal Purchasing Magazine. However, conference participants expected the high prices would begin to abate by midsummer or soon thereafter.
Friday, February 29, 2008
The Record (NorthJersey.com)
The brains behind the use of salvaged World Trade Center steel in a new Navy warship is a Rutherford volunteer firefighter excited about seeing his vision christened this weekend as the USS New York.
Her name is New York, but to Scott Koen, she is a phoenix.
The christening will take place Saturday at a Louisiana shipyard with a bottle of champagne smashed across her bow, which contains 24 tons of steel that once towered over Lower Manhattan.
Armed with air-defense missiles and two 30mm guns for close combat, the USS New York is designed for missions that include special operations against terrorists. It can carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines who can reach shore by helicopter and assault craft.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Well, is it true?
The federal government is providing $1 billion in tax relief for Canada's ailing manufacturing and processing sector by extending the accelerated capital cost allowance (CCA) for businesses.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Tuesday that the government will allow businesses to use the accelerated CCA, on a declining basis, until the end of the 2012-13 fiscal year.
The CCA is a non-refundable tax deduction that reduces taxes owed by permitting the cost of business-related assets to be deducted from income over a prescribed number of years.
On occasion, a CCA rate is "accelerated" to increase the incentive for investing in an asset by permitting it to depreciate more quickly.
The accelerated CCA plan introduced in the 2007 Budget allowed manufacturing businesses to fully write off investments in machinery and equipment within two years.
This says that, if you have the money to invest in new machinery, you can pay it off sooner, that is, write it down sooner, lowering your tax bill. Hopefully, you'll take some of the tax refund and use it to actually pay it down faster at the bank, thereby also reducing borrowing costs, another expense.
But let's think about this a bit. Many Canadian manufacturers are already on the ropes, hanging on by their fingernails. Are investments in new machinery uppermost in their minds? Are new machines even in the picture? I don't think so. They're doing everything they can to keep from laying off more people, to hang on to loyal employees.
While I applaud government efforts to reward newer, higher-productivity machinery, that shouldn't be the whole picture. How about a reduction on Workers Comp premiums for companies with good safety records? How about cost sharing on CPP for a year or two? These are costs every manufacturer, even those on the ropes, has, and so every manufacturer will benefit from them.
So what do other people thing?
Manufacturers say budget comes up short Reuters Canada says:
Canada's budget offered some financial help for the country's struggling manufacturing sector on Tuesday, but industry groups said it would not be enough to offset the impact of a strong domestic currency, a slumping U.S. economy and low-cost global competition.
Industry groups, however, said the one-year extension of the 50 percent rate would not give capital-intensive industries the time and funds needed to plan and execute the big investments they need to compete internationally.
"It's really a grab bag of goodies, some loose pocket change being thrown to the manufacturers," Jayson Meyers, president of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association, told Reuters.
Jim Stanford, an economist at the Canadian Auto Workers union, said the auto fund would not help workers who are losing their jobs as the industry cuts back.
"We would have preferred to see Mr Flaherty take a billion dollars out of that whopping 2007 surplus and create a real auto investment fund to match Ontario's billion-dollar fund," Stanford said.
The Toronto Star called it a show about nothing
[...]higher costs might actually help rationalize the Chinese steel industry by pricing some smaller firms with obsolete technology out of business.
After Brazilian mining conglomerate Vale hammered out 2008 benchmark prices for iron ore fines with Japanese and Republic of Korea (ROK) steel makers last week, Baosteel Group, China's largest steel maker, agreed on the price for fiscal 2008, accepting the Brazilian miner's price hikes that ranged from 65 percent to 71 percent compared with 2007.
China's steel needs have soared, driven by rapid urbanization and many large infrastructure projects. China imports almost half of the world's seaborne iron ore, making it the largest iron ore consumer in the world.
International Herald Tribune
New steel futures contracts introduced Monday in London could fill an information gap for one of the world's largest industries and shed light on global economic health, a leading British fund manager said.
"You've got this area from iron ore to a whole range of steel products that aren't catered for on an exchange," Frances Hudson, global thematic strategist at Standard Life, said. "These are very cyclical markets, and any additional good-quality information we can get about overall economic health is welcome."
See also AFP via yahoo news
Sunday, February 24, 2008
The Morning Call
Bethlehem Steel photographer Peter Treiber went searching for his old negatives in company files in 1999, and he discovered something unsettling.
They were gone.
''There's a lot of photos, but they're spread all over,'' he said. ''No one knows where they all are. I was kind of upset no one was really preserving the history of Bethlehem Steel.''
As a result, Treiber set out to create a record of the Steel in his own pictures, which culminated in the book, ''Inside Bethlehem Steel: The Final Quarter Century.''
Saturday, February 23, 2008
The Times of Northwest Indiana
U.S. mills have increased spot prices for hot rolled steel to above $700 a ton for March delivery, a hike of about $50 per ton from the previous period and almost $200 a ton higher than in August. Prices for tubular steel have jumped to as much as $200 per ton from $75 a ton for March delivery. Bar and plate prices have been a bit more restrained.
Nucor recently reduced its raw material surcharge for rebar, merchant bar and structural products by $10 per hundred weight, but increased its base price by the same amount,
Rather than to increase profit margins, steelmakers contend they are raising prices to recover climbing costs for iron ore, ferroalloys, coke, scrap, energy and shipping.
At the $700-plus-per-ton level, the price of hot rolled sheet is at its highest point to date, said Tom Stundza, author of the monthly Steel Flash Report.
Despite poor demand from the housing, automotive and appliances steel-consuming sectors, steel companies appear confident that price hikes will stick.
I especially like this line, near the bottom of the article:
In a recent speech on the North American steel industry, AIIS President David Phelps said given the consolidation of the domestic steel industry, it's likely producers will succeed in defending their profit margins while squeezing those of steel users. [emphasis mine]
AP via Yahoo! News
The steel bound for the Freedom Tower at ground zero travels thousands of miles, from a plant in Luxembourg where columns are rolled through casting machines at temperatures approaching 2,340 degrees.
Scrap metal melted into liquid steel in an electric furnace is cast, heated, cooled and heated again at the ArcelorMittal steel mill in Differdange.
The steel makes its way to a plant in Virginia where the huge columns are cut to size. Eventually, it is shipped to New York City, where the columns are lifted by crane and painstakingly set on top of each other at ground zero.
The jumbo steel columns — foot by foot, ton by ton — are forming the skeleton of the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower, designed just after the 2001 attacks to replace the destroyed World Trade Center. Each column makes a 4,700-mile journey, taking weeks and sometimes months to arrive at ground zero.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Sen. Phil Poole, D-Tuscaloosa, started another filibuster last week over a bill sought by Gov. Bob Riley that would up penalties to truckers and companies that allow those gigantic rolls of steel to bounce off their trucks, damaging roads and endangering motorists.
Waggoner said it costs $200,000 to fix each hole in pavement when a steel coil rolls off a truck.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Charleston Daily Mail
Forget steel and concrete. The building material of choice for the 21st century might just be bamboo.
This hollow-stemmed grass isn't just for flimsy tropical huts any more - it's getting outsized attention in the world of serious architecture. From Hawaii to Vietnam, it's used to build everything from luxury homes and holiday resorts to churches and bridges.
Boosters call it "vegetal steel," with clear environmental appeal. Lighter than steel but five times stronger than concrete, bamboo is native to every continent except Europe and Antarctica. And unlike slow-to-harvest timber, bamboo's woody stalks can shoot up several feet a day, absorbing four times as much world-warming carbon dioxide.
"The relationship to weight and resistance is the best in the world. Anything built with steel, I can do in bamboo faster and just as cheaply," said Colombian architect Simon Velez
Sunday, December 30, 2007
After years of record growth, Germany's key steel sector is likely to face more uncertain times as the fall in the dollar and the global credit crunch raise business risks, the nation's steel industry association said.After years of record growth, Germany's key steel sector is likely to face more uncertain times as the fall in the dollar and the global credit crunch raise business risks, the nation's steel industry association said.
[he said] major export industries such as the automotive field and electrical engineering were likely to be hit by a weaker dollar with automakers also scaling back demand as a result of concerns about new CO2 emission rules.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Seattle Times Newspaper
Late in 2007, containers of raw steel began leaving Nucor Seattle for buyers in Taiwan and Indonesia as the city's only steel mill began exporting steel to Asia.
It is a small amount. Perhaps more significant, Canada, a tariff-free market, takes 30 percent of the plant's output. The Seattle plant is operating its melt shop five days a week in three shifts — and is asking the pollution-control authorities to allow it to add a fourth shift and operate 24/7.
We are used to booming aircraft and software — but steel is old.
Think of it as recycling. The feedstock for the Seattle plant begins as steel cans tossed into a thousand recycling bins. It begins also as junkyard cars, derelict appliances and tangles of old reinforcing bar torn from demolished buildings. Call it scrap. At the plant in West Seattle, the old steel is grabbed by giant magnets and plunked into an electric-arc furnace to be reborn as youthful steel. All the steel made here is this recycled kind.
The Enquirer (Cincinatti)
The union that represents workers at AK Steel's Middletown Works is, like the company itself, leaner and focused on surviving in a competitive global economy.
A new union leader takes over next month, with both sides ready to look ahead after a year that began with the company in the midst of a lockout that was then the nation's longest major work stoppage. The union has also rebuilt itself a little, with new members coming from replacement workers kept after the lockout ended in March.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
China will impose or raise export duties on products including wood pulp, coke, alloy steel, steel billets, and some finished steel products in 2008, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) announced on Friday.
The nation will also impose temporary export tariffs on coal, crude oil, and metal ores next year, the MOF stated, without providing further details.
China, which produces a third of the world's steel, will raise export tariffs on some steel products from Jan. 1 to help rein in a record trade surplus and reduce energy consumption and pollution.
It didn't give details on new tax rates. The country will also impose export tariffs on coal, crude oil and metal ores next year, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement on its Web site late yesterday.
China, seeking to curb a record trade surplus, cut tax rebates and raised duties on steel shipments this year. The Asian nation's exports have pressured rivals, leading the European Union last month to threaten tariffs to shield its producers, including ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- History buffs practically salivate at the thought of being able to explore the massive ruins of Bethlehem Steel, the industrial behemoth that armed hundreds of U.S. warships, provided the raw material for the Golden Gate Bridge and transformed the New York City skyline.
Thanks to an $800 million casino complex rising on the site, the dream that has eluded preservationists for more than a decade is now within reach: the ability to tell the story of America's industrial history through the prism of one of its most important companies.
These visitors could help provide the economic shot in the arm necessary to stabilize and maintain many of the historic buildings, making them suitable for public display.
No one knows how much it will cost to preserve the Bethlehem Steel story, or who will agree to pay for what. But Sands has already saved 20 buildings from the wrecking ball, and those who are passionate about "the Steel" say that some kind of public access is a certainty.
Here's another article that goes into more detail about what machines were preserved that might go into the museum.
Martin, Bethlehem Steel's chief engineer from 1962 to 2002, is a consultant to the National Museum of Industrial History. The nonprofit museum is planned to house the tools among myriad parts of the United States' industrial past.
Among the items sharing storage with them are a locomotive for moving ore and two Mack fire trucks from the 1960s.
The machine tools represent a small portion of the artifacts saved from Bethlehem Steel's namesake plant.
"The National Museum of Industrial History is very interested in having a working machine shop. The reason being there's not an industry of significance that doesn't have a machine shop," Martin said. "Everybody's got a machine shop."
Salvaged were 10-foot-long lathes, boring mills, band saws, swing drill presses, cast-iron structural columns and an overhead crane operated by hand with ropes.
A dozen or so volunteers spent two weekends using forklifts to ferry the tools from the South Side plant's Weldment Shop, which was subsequently demolished, to the machine shop, which is slated for preservation.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
International Herald Tribune
The EU began an inquiry into whether Chinese exporters, including Baoshan Iron & Steel and Wuhan Iron & Steel, sell flat-rolled steel in the EU below cost, a practice known as dumping. The inquiry covers €1.2 billion, or $1.7 billion, of imports of hot-dipped metallic-coated steel.
The investigation will determine whether the steel "is being dumped and whether this dumping has caused injury," the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, said in the Official Journal.
The commission has nine months to decide whether to impose provisional anti-dumping duties for half a year and EU governments have 15 months to decide whether to apply "definitive" levies for five years.
Here's another, similar article, from the Toronto Star, a local (to Toronto) newspaper.
EU officials have warned of a protectionist backlash if China doesn't do more to open up to European exports. They've also asked that Beijing address the valuation of the yuan, which they say gives Chinese exporters an unfair price advantage.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
On the other hand, if too many retire all at once, there will be a need for some to stay, or else the critical information about how the processes work will not be passed on from one generation to the next.
Retirements are looming at the steel plants along the Lake Michigan shoreline as the baby boomers hired in their late adolescence and early adulthood when the industry was booming begin to qualify for pensions. It's estimated that more than half of the region's hourly and salaried steel industry workers will be eligible for retirement by 2012, creating plentiful job openings in the coming years.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
German steel group ThyssenKrupp on Tuesday reported a record net profit for its 2006-2007 fiscal year, but chief executive Ekkehard Schulz indicated later that growth could slow considerably this year.
He also forecast another "good year" for steel demand in 2008 but noted that demand for stainless steel was expected to cool slightly after record results in 2007.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
The longer, more detailed article is here.
There are two basic ways to make steel in this country. One is from scratch. The other is by recycling.
And as you might expect, the scale is now balanced toward recycling.
Slightly less than 60 percent of raw steel production in the United States is generated in electric arc furnaces, which melt steel scrap to produce new product.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Bulldozers are clearing a 3,500-acre forest beside the Tombigbee River in southwest Alabama. It won't be a vast empty lot for long as construction begins next year on the $3.7 billion ThyssenKrupp steel mill.
Top executives from the German firm, Gov. Bob Riley and more than 700 state and local officials attended Friday's groundbreaking for the massive project off U.S. 43.
"We will be in Alabama for decades to come, providing good jobs for many generations," ThyssenKrupp AG Chairman Dr. Ekkehard D. Schulz said before a high school band struck up "Sweet Home Alabama."
The company's new plant in Brazil, set to start production in 2009, will ship its steel slabs to the Alabama plant, which will produce 5.1 million metric tons of steel products.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
The comedian Carlos Mencia jokes about that giant fence to keep out immigrants. He says we might need immigrant labor to build it. Now lawmakers are upset that the fence includes immigrant steel. Some of the fence on the Mexican border is being built with steel from China.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Financial News - Yahoo! Finance
Shares of North American steel producers dipped Thursday, after a Morgan Stanley analyst said supplies and capacity are growing just as demand is likely to slow down.
Capacity on the rise may mean a reduction in steel prices.
Just a few days ago, MEPS said something similar, although with slightly different timeframes.
The import threat is receding and volumes are expected to drop significantly - providing opportunities for the domestic mills to capture a much greater share of the slightly weakening consumption. Inventories at the service centres and OEM's will need to be replenished in the final quarter of this year and beyond. The mills' order intake should improve over the coming months leading to extended delivery lead times. This, in turn, should tighten the supply side and allow the domestic mills to push for higher prices from customers. Of course, with the prospect of rising input costs (including iron ore, coke freight and scrap), the mills will have sound cause to lift selling values for the early part of 2008.
With the prospect of a slow down in the US economy after recent financial problems we are not confident that real demand for steel will expand in the second half of next year. The recent fall in interest rates may help but confidence in the housing market may not return for some time. This impacts on sales of consumer goods and residential construction projects - affecting all the flat products. Third quarter 2008 steel price agreements could be the high point of the year for most product categories.
We continue to predict a further modest reduction in the average long products price in North America up to the turn of the year. Difficulties in both the residential and commercial construction sectors are likely to restrict real demand and opportunities for the mills to push for price increases. However, no major collapse in selling values is anticipated because input costs to the mills will, almost certainly, increase and the import threat is likely to diminish.
From: MEPS 02.10.2007 forecast
Scientists have developed a transparent new plastic as strong as steel and as thin as a sheet of paper, according to a study released Thursday by Science magazine.
Made out of clay and a non-toxic glue similar to that used in school classrooms, the composite plastic is biodegradable and requires very little energy to produce, lead researcher Nicholas Kotov said.
It takes a few hours to build up the 300 layers needed to make a thin sheet of the plastic as the robot's arm dips in an out of vials of glue and a dispersion of clay nanosheets.
The resulting sheet is a meter square, so it's not exactly fast to make, but the technology could probably scale and be replicated for faster production.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Metal Producing & Processing
ArcelorMittal and ThyssenKrupp Steel have decided to close Steel 24-7, the e-commerce platform they own and had been administrating jointly.
Reports indicate that Steel 24-7 has more than 700 registered customers in 37 countries, though most of the buyers are understood to be European operations. More than 1 million transactions are said to have been processed during the site's years of operation.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Reuters via Yahoo! Canada Finance
DETROIT (Reuters) - The United Auto Workers union on Wednesday agreed a contract with General Motors Corp ending a national strike by 73,000 workers, with a deal that includes a groundbreaking health-care trust fund. Union President Ron Gettelfinger, speaking at a news conference at the union's Detroit headquarters and surrounded by cheering UAW officials, said production at GM facilities would resume on Wednesday and ratification of the agreement by GM workers would begin this week. 'We feel very confident it will be ratified,' Gettelfinger said of the tentative four-year agreement.
GM said the national agreement "paves the way for GM to significantly improve its manufacturing competitiveness" and maintain a strong production presence in the United States.
A GM spokeswoman said the automaker would not provide details of the agreement until it was presented to UAW workers for ratification.
Gettelfinger said he would not disclose details of the agreement at this time. But he did say it includes a landmark health-care deal, under which responsibility for retiree health care would shift to a new UAW-aligned trust fund known as a voluntary employee beneficiary association, or VEBA.
Wall Street analysts have said establishing a VEBA could cut GM's annual costs by $3 billion in exchange for a one-off payment expected to top $30 billion.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
New York Times
The United Automobile Workers union wielded its most potent weapon against General Motors yesterday, sending 73,000 workers to picket lines in its first national strike at G.M. since 1970.
But what does it mean for metal stampers? If you supply GM, various industry officials say that 2 supplier jobs for every GM worker job are also in danger. That's almost 150,000 jobs in parts manufacturing.
Beyond that, if the strike goes on for any length of time, the GM steel consumption will be taken out of the steel marketplace. There's a chance that steel lead times will drop, and perhaps also steel prices.
I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Construction of a $1.6 billion taconite-to-steel plant near Nashwauk can move forward, now that a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency board approved an air permit for the project. The pollution board voted for the permit 8-0 Friday after a hearing in St. Paul. The process was the last of many governmental approvals that Minnesota Steel needed to build the plant, which would be the nation's first operation that produces steel at the site where the ore is mined.
A lawsuit asking a judge to bar U.S. Steel from hauling steel coils on Alabama highways will be dismissed if the company requires its drivers to provide proof they have received proper training.
U.S. Steel officials said most of the incidents involving the steel coils have resulted from driver error.
Monday, August 27, 2007
From the Stelco web site:
PITTSBURGH and HAMILTON, ON, Aug. 26, 2007 -- United States Steel Corporation and Stelco Inc., announced today that they have entered into a definitive agreement pursuant to which U. S. Steel will acquire Stelco for $38.50 (Canadian) in cash per share.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Nickel prices moved lower in July as they fell further into their deep descent. The July monthly average is set to be around $US8,500 per tonne lower than June's figure. Values are now forecast to go below the psychological $US30,000 per tonne in August as stocks on the LME continue to rise. There is still the possibility for another severe drop in the cost of nickel. Stability should return to the market later this year as production cuts from stainless steel producers over the Summer months come to an end. New nickel capacity, due on stream later this year and in 2008, is expected to prevent values rising dramatically before the end of the forecast period.
Western stainless steel producers of strip mill products have temporarily abandoned their traditional basis plus surcharge mechanism for selling their material. Most EU and US mills are now quoting only transaction (effective) figures. This is, principally, to disguise the discounts necessary to obtain orders after the fall in the price of nickel since early June.
Technically, surcharges in July for grade 304 increased by around 5 and 3 percent in the EU and US, respectively. With the prospect of them falling over the next two months by almost €750 and $US1400 per tonne it is not surprising that customers are refusing to pay the current inflated figures. The alloy surcharge is almost meaningless in negotiations at this time.
Mill orders have dried up. Many producers have plans to cut output in the short term but are pushing material into stock and selling at substantially discounted levels to generate the limited business available.
Nucor Corp. and other U.S. steelmakers are the victims of China's illegal subsidization of exported steel, lawmakers testified Tuesday.
In the first day of a two-day hearing, dozens of lawmakers argued that the U.S. International Trade Commission should renew five-year punitive tariffs on hot-rolled flat carbon steel imported from China and 10 other countries. China was the main target.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
"There are several factors that go into making a fast car and having a powerful engine is just one piece of the puzzle. Mercedes will reportedly tackle another piece -- curb weight -- on their upcoming SLC supercar by building the model out of aluminum. "
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Late last week, this hit the news, but I didn't get around to reporting it until this week.
Ukraine's Metinvest confirmed on Friday that it is considering acquiring, or investing in, steelmaker Stelco Inc., but said it has made no firm decision.
Metinvest's statement followed a report in the Globe and Mail newspaper, citing unnamed sources, that said officials from Metinvest have toured Stelco facilities in the weeks since the steel company put itself up for sale last month.
Stelco is the only big steelmaker in Canada that is still Canadian-owned.
The Globe's Report on Business, in addition to reporting more or less the same content, had this interesting few paragraphs part way down their article:
Consolidation has swept aside Stelco's neighbour Dofasco Inc., Essar's deal for Algoma closed last month, and shareholders will vote on a $7.7-billion (U.S.) buyout of Ipsco Inc. by Svenskt Steel AB later this month.
Those transactions have helped reduce the number of mid-sized, relatively cheap North American steel assets to three.
They are Stelco, AK Steel Holding Corp. of Middletown, Ohio, and a mill near Baltimore, Md., that Mittal Arcelor, the world's largest steel maker, has been ordered to sell by the U.S. government.
Of course, consolidation of steel suppliers means lack of competition on the supply side, and makes it very hard for small metal stampers to have a say in their own input costs.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
US strip mill transaction prices softened further over the last month as scrap costs continued to slide. The downturn is most apparent in the hot rolled category. Real consumption has remained lacklustre, causing service centre inventory depletion to take much longer to complete than was initially envisaged. Delivery lead times quoted by domestic mills have reduced to four weeks or less in some instances.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Stelco, Canada’s last domestically owned steel maker, said Friday that it was in early talks that might lead to its sale.
While foreign buyers have gradually taken control of Canada’s other steel companies, including Dofasco, Stelco remains independent, largely because it is unprofitable and some of its plants are outdated. Stelco emerged from a prolonged period of bankruptcy restructuring in March 2006 burdened with debt and pension obligations.
Stelco shares skyrocket as steel maker seeks buyer
The Toronto Star
Stelco Inc. shares shot up yesterday after the money-losing steel giant revealed it is looking at a possible sale or partnership after almost a century as a Canadian industrial icon.
The company's shares soared $5.03 – or more than 18 per cent – to $31.93 on heavy trading volume on the Toronto Stock Exchange, as investors bet on potential suitors pushing up the company's value.
Stelco sale would be end of era for Canadian steel
Reuters via Yahoo
The Canadian steel industry, which has been thinned by a slew of foreign takeovers, could lose its last big domestic-owned steelmaker after Stelco Inc. put itself on the auction block on Friday.
But Stelco's confirmation that it has put itself up for sale did not come as a surprise given a rapidly consolidating global steel industry that has seen big foreign companies feast on Canadian steelmakers.
"Stelco, in a Canadian context, was the last man on the block," said Randy Cousins, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets. "So is it a surprise that we are seeing this announcement? Not at all. It's just a continuation of what's been going on."
Here is the official announcement, off the Stelco website.
HAMILTON, ON, Jun 1, 2007 (Canada NewsWire via COMTEX News Network) -- Stelco Inc. (TSX: STE) today confirmed that it is reviewing strategic options for the company in light of the ongoing consolidation in the steel industry. The company has appointed a special committee of directors and CIBC World Markets and UBS to assist it in this review. The company intends to evaluate a broad range of possible alternatives including mergers, strategic partnerships, acquisitions or a sale of all or part of the company.
Discussions regarding these alternatives with third parties are at a very preliminary stage and there have been no discussions on the material terms of any transaction.
There's a lot more, but that's the gist of it.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Our experience with one these grades (409) was that it was less "stainless", and that it required different tool steels to cut and form.
The significant investment in new equipment by steel mills implies they believe the run-up in nickel prices is not going to be short-lived. They presumably know - they're in the business. But re-tooling decisions (if needed) of stamping jobs would be made with people with less experience forecasting the future. So it isn't clear if customers will be able to switch all that quickly.
The global stainless steel scene is changing rapidly. Customer backlash against the rising cost of nickel has been taken on board by the producers. Mills are now taking seriously market demand for low or non nickel grades.
Posco has launched a nickel free stainless steel into its portfolio. This follows similar actions earlier by Japanese producers. Outokumpu, which has traditionally been mainly a supplier of austenitic grades, is to increase its production of ferritic types. This has involved a significant investment in new equipment. Output of ferritic grades is also to be expanded from the new melting shop at Lianzhong, in China.
Global supplies of 300 series material have in the past formed 75 percent of total stainless deliveries. It is interesting to note that Thyssen Krupp recently announced that it may lift output of nickel free steel from the existing figure of 30 percent up to 35 percent. We have reports that an Arcelor Mittal senior executive sees the potential to push up production of non nickel grades to 70 percent in the long term.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
I like pedal steel guitar, when it's well played, which isn't all that often. It's got a unique sound - like a guitar, but then, not like a guitar. And they sit to play them.
Changing times and tunes have cut deeply into an American musical icon -- the pedal-steel guitar.
Not only is it a difficult instrument to play, but most who mastered it are a bit long in the tooth, and there aren't many younger musicians willing to learn from them.
And it takes a while to get good at it.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I live in Toronto, and us Torontonians are very competitive. We hate being left out in any competition. So now we too can boast our own near disaster with coiled steel.
The accident happened at what has to be the busiest highway interchange in Toronto, and probably in all of Ontario.
Courtesy of CityNews.com
A tractor trailer rolled over at Highways 400 and 401, shutting down a ramp and making things that much worse on the drive to work.
The rig, carrying rolls of steel, flipped on its side on the ramp from the southbound 400 to the westbound 401 at about 4:30am. Fortunately the driver was okay, only suffering some cuts and scrapes. The mess could have been much worse had there been a fuel spill, but luckily the tanks didn't crack.
There was concern that the saddle tanks might burst when the truck, with its heavy load, was brought back into an upright position. That's why it took about four hours to get the vehicle back on its wheels. However, it's since been cleared from the scene and the roadway has apparently reopened. Traffic on the 401 was slow through the area during the rush hour because drivers were stopping to look, however things have since returned to normal.
Map of the area of the interchange
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened Thursday to nationalize the country's largest steel company and private banks unless they make national interests a priority.
In a nationally televised speech, the leftist president said he would nationalize steel maker Sidor if it continued to sell its products abroad instead of selling them to domestic industries, particularly in the oil sector.
Chavez said that Sidor -- a multinational steel maker that makes 60,000 tons of tubes for the oil industry -- "had created a monopoly through its relationships with other companies and they only supply the raw material to these companies, leaving us to import these tubes from China."
Sidor (Ternium) web site in English: http://www.ternium.com/en/
Saturday, April 28, 2007
China Economic Net (ce.cn)
The accident occurred at around 0:00 a.m. at Haicheng Iron and Steel Co. Ltd., a private company that produces 500,000 tons of raw iron a year, said an official with the safety inspection bureau in Anshan.
Five workers were on duty and were taking a nap in their office. "Four of them had died when rescuers arrived," he said on condition of anonymity. "The fifth one was out of danger after timely treatment."
The leak occurred on a gas pipe connected to the company's primary blast furnace
Friday, April 27, 2007
Korean firm introduces nickel-free stainless steel
Posco, the world's fourth-largest steel maker, will raise output of a nickel-free stainless steel fivefold next year as the price of nickel has hit a record.
Posco plans to sell 10,000 tonnes a month of the steel, which it introduced this month, from 2,000 this year, the Pohang-based firm said yesterday. The steel, which uses chromium instead of nickel, is the equivalent of $2,762 (Canadian) a tonne, half the price of so-called 300-series cold-rolled coil steel.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
A delay in getting steel shipments may keep the new Ballard-Hudson Middle School in Macon from opening in August as planned.
'I think we'll all be disappointed,' said school board Vice President Tom Hudson, who represents that area. 'But there are things like steel and other supplies in construction that are out of our control.'
Contractors started building this past September, and they hoped to have the new school finished in 11 months. That's ambitious for a project that would typically take about 18 months, said David Andrews, a school system construction coordinator who's supervising the site.
"When you're on a fast-paced project, anything that doesn't happen the way you planned it throws a kink in the schedule," Andrews said. "Steel has been the biggest culprit at this point and continues to be."
A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a ruling awarding at least $46.2 million to 1,250 former employees of AK Steel Holding Corp. who claimed the steelmaker miscalculated their pension benefits under an early retirement program.
The plaintiffs, who had retired or were terminated since Jan. 1, 1995, sued the company in 2002. They said that AK's method of calculating lump sum payments to workers who had not reached full retirement age did not comply with federal law and resulted in underpayments for participants in one of its pension plans.
The Buffalo News
A steel coil fell from from the flatbed of a tractor-trailer early Friday evening as it approached the Peace Bridge to the United States, Peace Bridge officials said.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
In this accident, a crane failure occurred while the laddle was full of molten steel.
In an irony I'm sure no one appreciates, they were having a safety meeting in that meeting room.
Survivors of a horrific industrial accident in northeast China Thursday recounted the gruesome scene at their factory when 26 tonnes of molten steel poured into a meeting room, killing 32 workers.
The accident happened at Qinghe Special Steel Corp, a relatively modern facility in China's former industrial heartland in Liaoning province.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Zinc has now fallen from the $2 US/lb that it was late last year to about $1.50 US now. However, many platers buy zinc on contract, and so until their contracts run out, higher prices will prevail. By comparison, zinc was $0.50 in June of '05
Copper is again on the rise. It got down as far as $2.50 in February, but is up around $3.30 now. A year ago it was $4.00, so it's a bit off the peak, but not enough to feel comfortable.
Nickel is climbing and shows no sign of stopping. It's currently about $22.75, up from $16 at the year boundary, from $8 a year ago, and $3 five years ago.
Zinc is used in almost every method of rust-proofing steel (except stainless steel). Nickel is used in stainless steel. Brass is a combination of zinc and copper.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
WEIRTON -- More than 1,100 Independent Steel Union Members have joined the ranks of The United Steelworkers.
The ISU formed in 1951 and now, 56 years later, after increased competition from foreign steel companies on the U.S. steel industry, the once massive union was forced to dissolve.
Steel Technologies Inc. said Friday government regulators ended the waiting period for its roughly $396 million buyout by Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co. early.
Under the deal, announced in late February, Mitsui will pay Steel Technologies shareholders $30 per share in cash.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Some background on Truman seizing the US steel industry
From Wikipedia (a great reference and a great web site, by the way).
The Truman administration chose not to impose price controls, as the federal government had done during World War II; instead the administration attempted to avoid inflationary pressures through creation of a Wage Stabilization Board that sought to keep down the inflation of consumer prices and wages while avoiding labor disputes whenever possible. Those efforts failed, however, to avoid a threatened strike of all of the major steel producers by the United Steel Workers of America when the steel industry rejected the board's proposed wage increases unless they were allowed greater price increases than the government was prepared to approve.
The Truman administration believed that a strike of any length would cause severe dislocations for defense contractors and for the domestic economy as a whole. Unable to mediate the differences between the union and the industry, Truman decided to seize their production facilities, while keeping the current operating management of the companies in place to run the plants under federal direction.
From a Wikipedia article
In 1952, President Harry Truman seized the steel industry to avert a nationwide strike. (The U.S. Supreme Court later ruled that Truman had overstepped his authority.)
Was it called the Easter Steel strike?
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
From Yahoo Finance.
One hundred years ago, steel was the IT industry of its day -- a cutting edge sector that was a symbol of a country's economic might. Andrew Carnegie, U.S. Steel, and Pittsburgh were what Bill Gates, Microsoft and Silicon Valley are today. The U.S., Britain and Germany made the bulk of the world's steel until the 1970s, when competition from Japan and South Korea sent these traditional Western steelmaker-behemoths reeling. By the late 1990s, the steel business had one foot in the grave. Two trends reversed this over the past five years. First, a series of recent mergers and takeovers among steel companies put the sector back on a more profitable and sustainable path. Second, a jump in demand for steel from China -- coupled with a tripling of steel prices -- brought the whole industry back from the brink of extinction.
Monday, April 02, 2007
Metals that can regain their original shape even after they have been bent may soon be available, thanks to researchers at the University of Illinois who have found that adding heat to bent metal films having the right microstructure returns them to their original shapes.
We found that the type of metal doesn't matter. What matters is the size of the grains in the metal's crystalline microstructure, and a distribution in the size"
The findings of the study were published in the March 30 issue of the journal Science
Sounds a bit like a heat treating application ...
Inventories at the service centres are coming down slowly. Further mill price increases are anticipated in the coming months as higher scrap costs are recovered. As a result, we have uprated our past forecast. Real demand is improving and the import threat diminishing, at least in the short term. Consequently, we forecast a substantial rise in the average price over the next 5/6 months. Prices should peak at a figure close to the high point of the previous cycle in mid 2006.
We expect the current scrap price to decline later in the year as the rate of increase in global consumption starts to slow down. A price slippage is predicted for the second half of 2007. Inventories in the United States remain stubbornly above the desired levels for existing real demand in the market place. However, we caution that in the current climate, market fundamentals can be upset by actions in other parts of the world - particularly affecting price offers by importers.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Kobe Steel Ltd said Thursday it has developed a new aluminum alloy, which it claims is the world's strongest, for use in vehicles and fuel tanks for space shuttles.
tensile strength 10% higher than the aluminum-lithium alloy developed by Lockheed Martin
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
But it's an interesting result none-the-less.
Mail & Guardian Online
South African steel giant Mittal Steel has contravened the Competition Act by charging excessive prices, the Competition Tribunal ruled on Tuesday.
It found that the company contravened section 8(a) of the Act by charging an excessive price for its flat steel products to the detriment of consumers.
Monday, March 26, 2007
The International Iron and Steel Institute (IISI) revised its forecast for global steel demand in 2007 up to 5.9 percent on Monday, citing particularly strong demand from Africa, Asia and South America.
The steelmakers' association had forecast in October that deliveries to the market by manufacturers and importers would rise 5.2 percent this year.
Growth at the foreast 5.9 percent would bring total steel demand to 1.179 billion tonnes, up 65 million from 2006.
IISI Secretary General Ian Christmas had told Reuters last month that the group had probably been too cautious with its initial demand estimate given continued strong economic growth in China.
Nippon Steel Corp. and Arcelor Mittal have forged an agreement to expand their U.S. automotive sheet steel capacity in a deal that could see up to 30 billion yen ($252 million) invested in new plants and equipment, the influential Nikkei daily reported Monday.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Russia will increase steel supplies to the European market by 15 percent in 2007 compared to a year earlier, Veronika Nikishina, the Economy Ministry's foreign markets department chief, told journalists, citing an agreement between Russia and the EU on steel supplies to European markets scheduled to be signed in April.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
The end of a lockout that lasted nearly 13 months at its Middletown Works plant gave AK Steel Holding Corp. a labor contract it hopes will make the company more competitive in the global steel industry, but it remains unclear whether the company can sustain its goal of avoiding a takeover.
AK capped its pension and health-care costs and won the right to completely restructure its work force, eliminating a minimum limit on the number of employees and reducing about 1,000 job classifications to seven.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
It seems like someone may be doing something about it.
China will close its dirtiest steel mills as it steps up efforts to rein in surging energy use and clean up environmental damage caused by its economic boom, Premier Wen Jiabao said Monday.
However, the word and the deed are sometimes separated.
Wen acknowledged Sunday that China failed to meet its conservation targets last year.
On Monday, he promised to "resolutely close down" its oldest, dirtiest steel mills, power plants and facilities in the cement, aluminum and coke industries.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
With a year to go before it even touches the water, the Navy's amphibious assault ship USS New York has already made history twice. It was built with 24 tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Center, and it survived Hurricane Katrina.
USS New York is about 45 percent complete and should be ready for launch in mid-2007. Katrina disrupted construction when it pounded the Gulf Coast last summer, but the 684-foot vessel escaped serious damage, and workers were back at the yard near New Orleans two weeks after the storm.
The ship was an impetus for many of the yard's thousands of workers to return to the job, even though hundreds lost their homes, Quaglino and others said.
Northrop Grumman employed 6,500 at Avondale before Katrina. Today, roughly 5,500 are back on the job, working on the New York and three other vessels. More than 200 employees who lost their homes to Katrina are living at the shipyard, some on a Navy barge and others in bunk-style housing.
Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite, La., to cast the ship's bow section.
Sunday, May 01, 2005
Huge girders and tightly wrapped cables of Pittsburgh steel were used to erect many of the major structures related to [New York] city's expansion, business growth and, eventually, its tourism hot spots.
According to the Library of Congress Web site (http://www.americaslibrary.gov), "Pittsburgh steel was used to build some of the most important structures of the modern age: the Brooklyn Bridge, the Panama Canal locks, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, the Oakland Bay Bridge and the United Nations. During World War II, southwestern Pennsylvania became known as America's "Arsenal of Democracy," because its mills were working around the clock to make enough steel for America and its allies."