Smaller sector of steel industry showing the most demand growth.
Alloy steel production may account for only around 9 percent (on a finished product basis) of total global steel production; however, in terms of value, that production accounts for around 20 percent of the total market.
A Tale of Two Steels
People are probably much more familiar with carbon steel than alloy steel. Employing more than 2 million people around the world, the carbon steel industry churned out at least 1.3 billion tons (figures differ depending upon source, e.g., the World Steel Association believes it to be more than 1.6 billion tonnes) of the stuff in 2013. The alloy steel industry that turned out but a paltry 134 million tonnes of material last year.
Carbon steel production is also much more readily associated not only with the large players’ names Arcelor Steel, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., Hebei Iron & Steel Group and Baosteel Group (to name but four of the largest), but also indicators of global and national economic health, the capital markets, and gigantic mergers and acquisitions.
This is hardly surprising. Massive amounts of carbon steel are produced each year by the world’s largest economies.
Global Steel Production 2003-2013 (Million Tonnes)
Source: World Steel Association
It is also an industry in which the largest participants account for the majority of production. China, by far the largest producer, produces more than seven times as much steel as Japan, the second-largest producer.