China’s Largest Steel Mill to ‘Lead the Pack’ With Capacity Cut

  • Hebei Steel to cut 5 million tons of output in two years
  • Pledge to ease concern mills may restart idle capacity

China’s largest steel producer said it’ll cut capacity in line with the government’s resolve to re-balance the economy and reform oversupplied industries such as steel and coal.

Hebei Iron & Steel Group Co. will eliminate 5.02 million metric tons of steel-making and 2.6 million tons of iron-smelting capacity in 2016-17, the company said in a statement on its website on Friday. The group produced 47.75 million tons of steel last year, according to another statement.

“We will ‘lead the pack’ in reducing emissions as well as upgrade and improve the product mix,” Hebei said. The group has already dismantled 14 blast furnaces and 13 electric arc furnaces since 2008.

Hebei’s pledge comes amid concerns that Chinese mills are restarting idled plants, jeopardizing the nation’s attempts to curb industrial overcapacity. Steel prices in China have descended into a bear market after peaking on April 21 with the benchmark steel reinforcement bar futures completing the biggest weekly slump on record on Friday.

China, supplier of half of the world’s steel, will see its apparent domestic demand for steel products stabilize or rise slightly to 683 million tons, according to the China Iron and Steel Association’s estimate in April. The country is aiming to cut up to 150 million tons of steel capacity by 2020, according to the government target published earlier this year.

Data on Saturday is forecast to show that China’s crude-steel production jumped to a record in April as mills ramped up production to take advantage of the rally and the best profits since the financial crisis in 2009. Prices have taken less than three weeks to flip from a bull into a bear market, with benchmark prices slumping about a quarter since April 21.

— With assistance by Feiwen Rong

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