LONDON Mar 21, 2012 (Dow Jones) -- Global stainless steel production rose 3.3% to a new record in 2011 as higher output from China more than offset lower output from the Americas and the rest of Asia, data from the International Stainless Steel Forum showed Wednesday.
Global stainless steel production reached 32.1 million metric tons in 2011, compared with 31.1 million tons in 2010. China, the world's largest stainless steel producer, increased output of the corrosion resistant steel product by 11.9% to 12.6 million tons in 2011.
"The [global] increase in 2011 production comes on top of a 25% increase in 2010 which followed the economic crisis of 2008/2009," said ISSF in a statement. "The recovery of the industry proves that a century after its discovery and commercialization, stainless steel still has enormous potential for growth," it added.
Jim Cochrane, the chief commercial officer for ferrochrome producer Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. PLC (ENRC.LN) estimated that stainless steel production would reach 36 million tons in 2012. Ferrochrome is an alloy that is used in stainless steel production.
The move to a consumer-led economy in China means that the "stainless steel growth rates are likely to be maintained at a higher level than carbon steel growth rates in the future," he said. He added that global stainless steel production could rise at 6% a year over the next five years.
"That's probably realistic," he said.
Higher Chinese stainless steel output in 2011 more than offset a 2.7% drop in stainless steel production from the rest of Asia to 8.8 million tons. South Korea and India produced more stainless steel in 2011 while Japan and Taiwan produced less.
Stainless steel output in the Americas also dropped 4.7% to 2.5 million tons in 2011.
Stainless steel output from Western Europe and Africa was flat at 7.9 million tons and ranged between a 5% and an 18% increase depending on individual countries.
From a stainless steel grade point of view, the Chromium-nickel based stainless steel 300 series was the most popular, accounting for 58.2% of total stainless steel production, according to preliminary estimates. The next most popular was the 400 Series Chromium-based stainless steel accounting for 28% of total production while 200 series Chromium-manganese steel accounted for 13.8% of total production.