The organisation estimated that the global output of stainless steel rose by a double-figure percentage in 2021, largely driven by expansions in India and Indonesia.
In the first three quarters of 2021, production in Indonesia was higher than that in India, making Indonesia the second-biggest stainless producing country on the planet. As a result of the plentiful supply of nickel in Indonesia, the country is expected to invest further in capacity additions. This has resulted in stainless steel output being forecast to expand dramatically by over six percent this year.
In the last six months of 2021, the Chinese government applied production curbs to domestic steelmakers, resulting in diminished steel-melting activity in the country. That said, output in 2021 as a whole increased by 1.6%. Investments in new capacity are set to allow Chinese domestic mills to produce over 31 million tonnes of stainless steel by the end of 2022.
In 2021, India's stainless steel supply was higher than before the pandemic. The Indian government is investing heavily in its infrastructure and renewable energy sectors, which should help to support stainless consumption in 2022. Indian mills are forecast to produce around 4.25 million tonnes of metal this year.
Meanwhile, in Europe, stainless steel production in Q3 of 2021 was lower than had been predicted previously. Though Europe's domestic mills reported improved shipment volumes in Q4, total production last year was downgraded to under seven million tonnes. Supply is currently unable to meet growing market demand but continuing recovery in production is predicted throughout 2022.
These forecasts are of course subject to changes in response to many factors, not least political events such as Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russia is currently subject to major sanctions which may have knock-on effects that disrupt nickel supply; nickel is absolutely essential as a raw material used in the manufacture of austenitic grades of stainless steel. The sanctions may also curb investment along with market participants' ability to trade.