IRON and STEEL
Metallurgical Machinery & Equipment
With the start of winter heating season in November came the output restrictions in China’s steel sector as a part of country’s anti-pollution campaign.
Although the country is not following last year’s blanket production cuts (same percentage of production cuts across all steel plants), still the production cuts are happening at different levels in various cities, impacting the demand for Graphite electrodes (GE).
According to IC Carbon, the domestic rebar prices in China have dropped by more than 20% M-o-M basis. According to the estimates, the current independent electric furnace profits are meager, and many of them are on the verge of losses.
Some companies said that in the off-season, in order to consume inventories, they took measures to reduce production or electric furnace rotation maintenance. Later, depending on the market situation, some Fujian electric furnace steel mills even prepared themselves to suspend production.
As a result, the graphite electrode production in China has registered a fall in Nov’18. As per IC Carbon’s data, 18 key graphite electrode manufacturers in China produced a total of 51,300 tonnes of graphite electrodes, a decrease of 4.5% from the previous month. In Oct’18 the same stood at 53,700 tonnes, and in Sep’18 it was 51,900 tonnes.
However, if we look at China’s GE production in 2018, CCIA (China Carbon Industry Association) data shows that country’s GE production in Jan-Aug’18 grew at 15% y-o-y basis to 416,392 tonnes with the highest increase of 35% being recorded in UHP grade GE output (163,317 tonnes).
Based on the survey by IC Carbon of 62 GE manufacturing enterprises in China, the country’s GE output will be roughly 948,000 tonnes in 2018 against 520,000 tonnes in 2017.
In the case of needle coke, a key raw material for GE, the domestic market price continued to be stable, and the overall performance of the needle coke market remained gratifying. The main enterprises continued to maintain a stable upward trend, and the price rose by 3-8% M-o-M basis.
The technical changes and repairs of major needle coke enterprises such as Jinzhou and Anshan resulted in tight supply situation of needle coke market in November. However, in the winter heating season, the environmental protection policies have not completely restricted the output of carbon enterprises and there is less probability of needle coke prices to rise dramatically.