Worldsteel upbeat about steel industry despite global challenges

The outlook for the global steel industry will be driven by population growth, raw materials availability and environmental sustainability, according to World Steel Assn director-general Edwin Basson.

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World population will grow until 2050, before stabilising at around 9 billion people, he told delegates at the 23rd Brazilian Steel Congress, organised by the steel association IABr in São Paulo city.

Thus, global steel use would total 2.2-3 billion tonnes per year, he said. 

“It would be equivalent to a 4% growth rate over a 20-year investment cycle,” Basson added.

Basson believes iron ore shows long-term availability in most major ore production countries, but warned about a reduction in the Fe grading of these minerals.

He also observed that coking coal reserves have fallen by 50% lately, and its lower availability could force a change in the technology used by mills in their steelmaking process.

Environmental challenges such as reduced carbon dioxide emission will require a value-chain approach, he added.

This would include discussions with energy suppliers, as well as steel-consuming industries and downstream operations.

“Currently, both iron and steel sectors account for 6.5% of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions,” he said.

However, Basson believes the outlook for the global steel industry is positive.

“We cannot keep a modern and sustainable society without the steel sector,” he said.