Small stainless steel industry in Canada – by Stan Sudol (Sudbury Star – October 17, 2013)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Re: From ore to steel, column by Stan Sudol — Aug. 31.

In my column on the potential of a stainless steel industry in Ontario, I mistakenly said that there is no stainless steel industry in Canada. I was given incorrect information. I should have said, “At the present time, there is no ‘major’ stainless steel production in Canada.”

Gratefully, ASW Steel Inc. president Tim Clutterbuck contacted me and indicated that his Welland, Ont.-based specialty steel facility dedicates 30% of its production capacity to stainless steel. The company employs about 95 employees and manufactures roughly 100,000 tonnes of specialty steel products annually, of which 30,000 tonnes are stainless steel ingots and billets, that are exported to the U.S. and Europe.

By comparison, Outokumpu, the biggest international producer, manufactures almost 3.6 million tons of stainless steels worldwide, slightly over 10% of the 35.4 million tonnes of global production last year, according to International Stainless Steel Forum preliminary figures.

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Northern MLA’s: Lead now or leave [northern Ontario stainless steel] – by David Robinson (Northern Ontario Business – October 2013)

Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business  provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North.  

Dave Robinson is an economist with the Institute for Northern Ontario Research and Development at Laurentian 

Northern MP’s have come to a time of reckoning. They hold the balance of power in Ontario. The five NDPers and one conservative can change the North. In the next few months we get to see if they have the vision and the guts to act.

The provincial legislature has 107 members. There are 50 Liberals. Any four Northern members can make a deal with Catherine Wynne: Give us one really big win for the north and we’ll give you one more year of power.

There are several policies that are worth breaking party lines for. Leaving resource revenues in the north, creating a regional government, control of Ontario Northland and northern transportation policy, and especially the big one, creating a stainless steel industry for the North based on the Ring of Fire.

If Northern MLA’s deliver any one of these changes they will be heros. They will own their election seats for the next 100 years. If they don’t even try, northerners should throw the toothless pussycats out. They will have thrown away the North’s future.

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Steel firm Outokumpu should help itself: Finland’s state fund – by Jussi Rosendahl (Reuters U.S. – September 30, 2013)

HELSINKI – (Reuters) – Steel company Outokumpu (OUT1V.HE) should try to solve its own problems even though its heavy debts have raised the prospect it might need more money from shareholders at some stage, the head of Finland’s state investment fund Solidium said.

While Finland is often listed among the most innovative economies and remains triple-A rated, government funding is still badly needed in the country of 5.4 million people which has a limited pool of private capital. Kari Jarvinen, Solidium’s managing director, told the Reuters Nordic Investment Summit that the fund was making its long-term investment decisions independent of political pressure to help out troubled Finnish companies.

“It is better that the company tries to sort out its problems by itself. The company already had a 1 billion (euros) rights issue only one-and-a-half years ago,” Jarvinen said when asked about Outokumpu’s finances. “It is paramount that these companies find ways to be profitable in the future.”

Solidium holds stakes worth in total 7.7 billion euros in 11 Finnish listed companies including paper maker Stora Enso (STERV.HE) and investment and insurance group Sampo (SAMAS.HE).

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PRESS RELEASE: Outokumpu introduces new industrial plan in Europe to improve financial performance

October 1, 2013

Outokumpu announced today plans for further structural changes in its European operations aimed at improving its financial performance and efficiency, and ultimately returning the company to profitability.

While Outokumpu has already implemented significant cost savings as a result of the merger between Outokumpu and Inoxum at the end of 2012, the company’s cost structure continues to be unsustainably high in the current market environment.

Stainless steel market has remained challenging during 2013, mainly driven by the continued economic weakness in Europe and the global overcapacity in the industry. Outokumpu has continued to be heavily loss making in 2013, with a net debt of 3.0 billion euros at the end of June 2013. Industry overcapacity and imports from Asia continue to put pressure on prices and profitability and there are no signs of a material improvement in the market environment. For example, in Europe alone, there are more than 1,500,000 tonnes of overcapacity in cold rolled production. In addition, as previously stated, the Terni remedy requirement by the European Commission resulted in lower synergy potential than originally planned.

Therefore, Outokumpu is now introducing a new industrial plan and efficiency measures for its operations in Europe. Specifically, the planned changes include:

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CORRECTED-Asia stainless steel mills to benefit from Chinese nickel-pig-iron from Indonesia – by Polly Yam (Reuters U.S. – September 11, 2013)

HONG KONG, Sept 11 (Reuters) – Chinese firms operating nickel mines in Indonesia are likely to step up plans to build nickel-pig-iron plants in the Southeast Asian country in order to continue shipping ores back home, which would help support higher production in China next year.

The move could mean Chinese firms’ supply of nickel-pig-iron, a low-grade ferro-nickel used in stainless steel production, would rise in Asia in 2 to 3 years time, helping regional mills such as POSCO and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal to cut costs, industry sources said.

China is the dominant producer of nickel-pig-iron in the world and the output accounts for about a quarter of the global nickel production. But the production relies on imports of raw material nickel laterite ores, with Indonesia and the Philippines providing most ores.

Indonesia had planned to ban the export of ores from 2014 to push miners to build smelters at home to benefit the local economy. But in a policy reversal, it may now relax the ban in order to help support the rupiah currency and miners with smelters under construction will be allowed to continue to export ores.

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Outokumpu Asia President: China A “Growth Engine” for Global Stainless Steel Market – by Yue Li (Wall Street Journal – September 5, 2013)

SHANGHAI–China’s goal to become a consumption-driven economy will lead to sustained demand growth for the global stainless steel market, said a top executive from the world’s largest stainless steel producer, Outokumpu Oyi (OUT1V.HE).

Despite analysts being divided over how long China’s economic rebound may last, “China is a growth engine for us and will become a profitable market in the future,” said Austin Lu, president of Asia Pacific.

Although Europe is currently the company’s main market, China promises to be an important source of revenue in the coming years, as a result of government-planned reforms aimed at shifting from an export-dependant economic growth model to one driven by private consumption.

China currently accounts for half of Outokumpu’s business in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Mr. Lu. A growing urban population and an environmentally friendly society would mean more demand for sophisticated raw materials such as stainless steel, said Mr. Lu, estimating annual demand growth of 5%-6% from China until 2020.

Recent data showed resilient growth in China’s economy, offering the central government the freedom to focus on structural reforms such as financial liberalization, measures to promote labor mobility and a push for green energy.

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Ring of Fire: Chromite Crumbs or Stainless Steel for Ontario? [Part Two of Two] – by Stan Sudol (Sudbury Star – August 31, 2013)

Outokumpu Stainless Steel Plant Tornio, Finland. Outokumpu Group is the largest stainless steel producer in the world.

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper. 

This was originally published in the Sudbury Star on August 31, 2013 under the title “From ore to steel“.

Canada is the only G-8 country in the world that does not have a “major” stainless steel sector. There is one speciality steel producer, ASW Steel Inc. in Welland, Ontario, that dedicates 30 per cent of its production capacity to stainless steel. Employing  about 95 people, the company manufactures roughly 30,000 tons of stainless steel ingots and billets. By comparison, Outokumpu, the biggest international producer, produces almost 3.6 million tonnes of stainless steels worldwide, slightly over ten per cent of the 35.4 million tonnes of global production last year, according to International Stainless Steel Forum preliminary figures.

We do have world-class carbon steel plants mainly concentrated in Ontario at Hamilton, Nanticoke and Sault Ste. Marie.

Stainless steels are more valuable than carbon steels due to their corrosion and rust resistance due to the addition of chromite. Nickel is added to some varieties of stainless steels to increase the hardness and strength, further corrosion resistance as well as enabling the material to withstand extreme cold and hot temperatures without becoming brittle or deforming.

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Ring of Fire: Strategic Chromite and the Commodity Super-Cycle [Part One of Two] – by Stan Sudol (Sudbury Star – August 30, 2013)

Kemi Chromite Mine in northern Finland (Photo Outokumpu Group)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

The recent announcement by American-based Cliffs Natural Resources to temporarily halt its chromite mining project in Ontario’s Ring of Fire camp was met with flying accusations of fault by many politicians affected stakeholders, environmental NGOs and First Nations communities.

There certainly is plenty of blame to go around including the company itself – stubborn opposition to a more thorough environmental assessment demanded by First Nations – Cliffs’ inability to finance the project at the present time and most importantly a currently depressed metals market.

However, this might be a great opportunity to scrutinize the entire development and decide if Ontario has leveraged as many economic and value-added benefits as possible during the current commodity super-cycle and why a tiny country like Finland has been able to do much more with a significantly smaller and lower quality chromite deposit of its own.

But first some project background and geo-political analysis on the current state of global mining would be very helpful for Toronto-centric Premier Wynne and her largely southern Ontario cabinet.

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Stainless steel sector to benefit in the long term – by Suzan Uzel (Yorkshire Post – June 13, 2013)

THE stainless steel industry is facing “a challenging short-term outlook” but demand will continue to grow in the long term, according to the CEO of Finnish steel giant Outokumpu Group.

Mika Seitovirta, who is also president of Outokumpu, the largest stainless steel maker in the world, said that global megatrends such as urbanisation, increased mobility and the demand for food, energy and water, will ensure continued growth of stainless steel consumption in the future.

“We are living as if there is another planet at our disposal,” Mr Seitovirta told an audience in South Yorkshire. “By 2030, even two planets won’t be enough to sustain our consumption.” But he said that “unfortunately the weak economic outlook will continue in Europe this year”.

He was speaking in Sheffield as part of a conference celebrating 100 years since Harry Brearley discovered stainless steel.

Earlier this year, Outokumpu, which employs 16,200 people, said it expects to reduce up to 2,500 jobs globally between 2013 and 2017 as part of efforts to reduce its operating expenses and return the company to profitability. Outokumpu said that its 2012 financial year was marked by “a weak market environment”, especially during the second half, leading to an underlying operational loss of 168 million euros.

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