According to the international steel industry’s trade association, global raw steel production rose 1.2% to 1.548 billion metric tons last year, a record level of output.  The World Steel Association indicated the slight increase was driven mainly by steelmakers in Asia and North America, which is notable because raw steel production in the 27 nations of the European Union and in South America decreased compared to 2011 output.

The World Steel Assn. represents steelmakers in 62 countries.  The group reported that 2012 closed with an increase in December, too, up rising 2.4% to 121.3 million metric tons, over the December 2011 result.

“Raw” or crude steel is the term describing the product of electric arc furnaces and basic oxygen furnaces, prior to metallurgical refining and casting into semi-finished products, such as slabs, blooms, or billets. World Steel Assn. totals represent carbon and carbon alloy steels; Stainless steels and other specialty alloy steels are not included.

10 largest steel producing for 2012, millions of metric tons

  2012 2011 Year-on-year change, %
China 716.5 694.8 3.1
Japan 107.2 107.6 -0.3
U.S. 88.6 86.4 2.5
India (est.) 76.7 73.6 4.3
Russia 70.6 68.9 2.5
South Korea 69.3 68.5 1.2
Germany 42.7 44.3 -3.7
Turkey 35.9 34.1 5.2
Brazil 34.7 35.2 -1.5
Ukraine 32.9 35.3 -6.9

Total raw-steel production in Asia rose 2.6% for the year, to 1.013 billion metric tons. Asia’s share of the world’s steel production increased slightly from 64.5% in 2011 to 65.4% in 2012.

Steel production in China increased during in 2012, totaling 716.5 million metric tons, an increase of 3.1% over 2011. China’s share of the world’s raw steel output increased to 46.3% in 2012. Japan produced 107.2 Mt in 2012, a -0.3% decrease from 2011. In 2012, South Korea’s raw steel production was 69.3 Mt, a 1.2% increase compared to 2011.

Steel production in the EU declined 4.7% during 2012, versus 2011, totaling 169.4 million metric tons of raw steel in 2012. In Germany the total of 42.7 million metric tons of raw steel in 2012 represented a decrease of 3.7% against the year before. Italian steelmakers produced 27.2 million metric tons in 2012, a decline of 5.2% over 2011. France’s 2012 raw steel production was 15.6 million metric tons, a decrease of 1.1%. Spain produced 13.6 million metric tons of raw steel in 2012, a 12.1% decrease versus 2011.

In 2012, raw steel production in North America was 121.9 million metric tons, an increase of 2.5% on 2011. The US produced 88.6 million metric tons of raw steel, 2.5% higher than 2011.

In Russia, Ukraine, and rest of the nations of the former Soviet Union, total raw steel production decline 1.2% to 111.3 million metric tons. Russia produced 68.9 million metric tons of raw steel, a 2.5% increase over 2011 output, but in Ukraine the output fell 6.9% to total 32.9 million metric tons.

Total raw steel production in South America was 46.9 million metric tons for 2012, a decrease of 3.0% from 2011 output. Brazil produced 34.7 million metric tons in 2012, down by 1.5% from its 2011 total.

Raw steel capacity utilization for 2012 dropped almost 2% over the previous year, to 78.8% from 80.7% during 2011. In December 2012, capacity utilization declined to 73.2% versus to 76.1% during November 2012.