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Steel Conference highlights prospects of digital, low-carbon future for steel
May 11,2017 16:23CST
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EUROFER Director General Axel Eggert noted that the region’s import share has ballooned from historical average of 17% to 24% in 2016

By Paul Ploumis

SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): The European Steel Day 2017 hosted by the European Steel Association (EUROFER) was held at Concert Noble, Brussels on 10th May, 2017. The seventh edition of the annual steel event focused on challenges faced by the EU steel industry and opportunities of innovative policies on trade actions. The summit sessions focused on the prospects of digital, low carbon future for steel industry.

EUROFER Director General Axel Eggert noted that the region’s import share has ballooned from historical average of 17% to 24% in 2016, mainly on account of increased dumping of cheap steel products by third countries, principally China. However, it is a positive sign that the region’s total activity in steel-using sectors rose by 1.7% during the year, in comparison with 2015. The European steel industry is likely to witness exciting and challenging times going forward, Eggert stated. The industry is likely to see threats as well as opportunities in climate, innovation and trade policy, he added.

The conference featured two panel discussions. The first panel discussed possible ways to reduce CO2emission by the steel industry. The expert panelists included Jo Leinen MEP, S&D Group, European Parliament; Wendel Trio, Director, Climate Action Network Europe; Carl De Maré, Chair, ESTEP; VP & CTO, Head of Technology Strategy, ArcelorMittal Group and Herbert Eibensteiner, CEO, voestalpine Steel Division. The panelists noted that European steel industry has been successful in reducing its per tonne carbon footprint by 50% since 1970. The innovative solutions in the pipeline would help the industry to achieve its ambitious goal to reduce CO2 emissions by 80-95% to 2050. The panel also discussed key technologies to improve steel and the new approaches to steelmaking.

The second panel discussion titled ‘Digitization & industry 4.0’ was attended by eminent personalities including Reinhard Bütikofer MEP, Greens/EFA, European Parliament; Prof. Dr.-Ing Harald Peters, Head of division Measuring Techniques and Automation, VDEh-BFI; Hervé Martin, Head of Unit, DG RTD, Industrial Technologies - Coal & Steel, European Commission; Francisco Verdera Mari, Director, CEN-CENELEC and Andreas Goss, CEO, ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe AG. It noted that the vision of Industry 4.0 has resulted in creation of new grades of steel. It has enabled steelmakers to innovate advanced manufacturing techniques to produce high quality steel that are in demand.

Speaking at the conference, Eurofer president Geert Van Poelvoorde said that Chinese steel production volumes is likely to have significant impact on global steel prices. The country had pledged last year to cut 150 million tonnes of excess steel capacity by 2020. It had cut 65 million tonnes of capacity in 2016 and has already announced that another 50 million tonnes of capacity will be cut in 2017. However, steel capacity cuts are not likely to restrain steel production. For instance, Chinese steel production surged higher by 4.6% to 201.1 million tonnes in Q1 ’17, despite capacity cuts, Poelvoorde noted.

The one day event was attended by over 400 guests, EUROFER noted.

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