The world just produced more steel than ever before -- and it was largely due to China

Kevin Frayer/Getty ImagesYes, the increase in China was that big.
  • Global crude output rose to the highest level on record in May.
  • The increase was fuelled by rampant growth in Chinese steel production which rose to 81.1 million tonnes, the highest level on record.
  • In contrast, output outside of China stood at just 73.7 million tonnes last month.

The world produced more steel than ever before in May, driven by rampant output from the world’s largest supplier, China.

According to the WorldSteel Association (worldsteel), crude steel output jumped to 154.9 million tonnes last month, surpassing the previous record high of 148.3 million tonnes set in March this year.

From a year earlier, that represented an increase of 6.6%.


The growth was fuelled by China, the world’s largest steel producer.

Output in the nation soared to a record high of 81.1 million tonnes, up from 76.7 million tonnes in April.

Over the year, that represented a mammoth increase of 8.9%, driven by strong steel demand and healthy profit margins for many Chinese mills.

The large increase also came despite disruptions caused by environmental inspections in some parts of the country, as well the shuttering of uneconomic and inefficient mills.

The growth also reflects the closure of some illegal steel mills that weren’t previously captured in the data, resulting in output moving to those mills monitored by worldsteel.

So far this year, Chinese crude steel output stands at 369.859 million tonnes, up 5.9% on the same period a year earlier.

This table from worldsteel shows output levels in other nations that it monitors.


Of the major producers, output in Japan, India, South Korea and Russia stood at 9.09 million tonnes, 8.82 million tonnes, 6.23 million tonnes and 6.23 million tonnes respectively in May, up 1.8%, 7.6%, 3% and 6% on the levels seen 12 months earlier.

US crude steel output ticked up to 7.1 million tonnes, an increase of 3% on a year earlier.

Combined, global steel output ex-China came in at 73.7 million tonnes last month, up 4.2% on the levels seen in May 2017.

Reflecting both strong demand and the closure of steel production capacity in China, the record monthly output saw capacity utilisation across the global steel industry lift to 77.7%, 4.2 percentage points higher than 12 months ago.


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