As reported by the Fastmarkets platform, slabs currently seem to be in short supply worldwide.

Slab shortage: Is this the origin of the flat steel crisis?
Slab shortage: Is this the origin of the flat steel crisis?

Europe: Italy and Turkey running out of slabs

Especially in Europe – particularly in Italy – slabs are hard to come by. A lot of material from Russia is currently going to Asia and Brazil, Fastmarkets further reports. Turkey has similar problems.

Brazilians sell slabs expensively to the USA

Brazilians can currently sell their own production of slabs expensively to the United States and Canada. And cover their domestic needs with cheap imports from Asia and Russia.

Steel crisis in the United States

What Turkish and EU reelers are currently getting less of, however, is to go to the United States. There has been an acute shortage of steel and stainless steel there for months, which domestic steel producers are unable to cover. The Section 232 tariffs are doing their bit to further fuel the steel crisis there.

Mammoth projects take millions of tons of slabs off the market

Two other mammoth projects in Mexico are also currently scheduled to come on stream. Ternium alone would have over 10 million tons of capacity for flat steel with its new rolling mill – and only 2.5 million tons of slabs available. Added to this is ArcelorMittal Mexico with a new rolling mill for 2.5 million tons of flat steel. As a result, ArcelorMittal also needs more slabs for itself. Which leaves the market with only 1.5 million tons from ArcelorMittal itself.

Brazilian slab imports to the USA to be stopped

Another problem for the US market could be that, similar to Europe, there is lobbying to restrict imports from abroad even further.

Currently, there is talk in the United States to cancel the Brazilian import quotas for more than 350,000 tons of slabs and billet in the fourth quarter. And also to re-impose 25% tariffs on semi-finished steel from Brazil. Because allegedly U.S. steelmakers have a lot of spare capacity.

As we have been told by market sources, most service centers, stockholders and distributors in the United States are unable to meet their needs locally.

Steelmakers reluctant to sell steel slabs

Another reason for the shortage of slabs could be that steelmakers are currently focusing on higher-value flat steel products rather than selling slabs on the market. A circumstance which has already led to a shortage of 430 stainless steel grade in Europe – as producers focus on higher-grade grades.

Availability of slabs low worldwide

All in all, slab availability problems are reported from all parts of the world. For all the details, read the very detailed and long article from Fastmarkets.


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