Global raw steel production totaled 124.8 million metric tons during January, according to data collected by the World Steel Assn.  The amount represents a rise of nearly 2.9% over the 121.3 million metric tons produced during December 2012, but just 0.8% more than the 123.8 million tons produced worldwide during January 2012.

The Association added that the global raw steel capacity utilization for its 62 member countries declined to 71.2% in January, from 73.2% in December. It noted that the current rate represents a year-on-year decline of -5.5%. 

The World Steel Assn. represents steelmakers in 62 countries. Last month, the group reported global output for 2012 rose 1.2% over the prior year, despite decreases in European and South American production.

“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.

January’s results among different nations and regions varied considerably. China, which far outdistances all other steel-producing nations in terms of volume, produced 59,339 million metric tons of raw steel last month, an increase of 2.9% above its December output (57,656 million metric tons), but 4.6% more than its output during January 2012 (57,656 million metric tons.)

Japan is the world’s second-largest steelmaking nation by volume, and its January result of 8,865 million metric tons also showed steady improvement. It is a 3.45% improvement on December output, 8,569 million metric tons; and a 2.7% rise over the January 2012 result.

South Korea is another of the world’s top-ten steelmaking nations (sixth by 2012 volume) and its raw steel production was 5,811 million metric tons in January 2013, -0.4% lower than January 2012. Compared to January 2012 production, 5,775 million metric tons, that country’s recent result is 0.4% lower.

As a region, Asia’s 82,325 million metric tons produced during January represented a 2.4% improvement over December, and a 3.97% increase on the January 2012 report.