World’s Efforts to Curb Infection Spread, Global GDP Erosion at -4.9%& Manufacturing Slump Elicit $411.7 Million Erosion in Revenues for Graphite Electrodes
The global market for Graphite Electrodes is expected witness revenues plummet by -3.6% in the year 2020 and thereafter recover and grow to reach US$15.3 billion by the year 2027, trailing a post COVID-19 CAGR of 5.2% over the analysis period 2020 through 2027. Demand for graphite electrodes is expected to decline considerably in 2020, amid crushing impact of ongoing COVID-19 crisis on the world steel and aluminum industries, the largest application markets. Steel industry accounts for over 73.3% of global demand for Graphite Electrodes. Various COVID-19 related factors are contributing to sharp drop in sales and revenue of steel industry, while wielding a parallel negative influence on graphite electrode market. A major factor negatively impacting the market is the lockdowns imposed by governments in several parts of the world, which curbed the non-essential enterprise activity as well as people’s movement in streets and markets. Although, restrictions are not stringent and have been eased significantly in most of the countries, concerns over future financial insecurity is limiting the consumer purchases only to the essential items such as groceries and other basic necessities. Buying non-essential products such as automotive and new houses is not a priority for most of the consumers now.
Delays and disruptions in production, exports and imports are also wielding a considerable impact on the steel market. China, which is the origin country of worldwide COVID-19 outbreak, is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of steel, worldwide. To contain the spread of the virus outbreak, China imposed a nation-wide ban from late January through late March this year, before easing restrictions in a phase wise manner from April onwards. The domestic steel sector, in line with government guidelines, halted various activities including material procurement, processing, finishing, and sales and exports. Although the restrictions have been lifted to a maximum extent, the Chinese steel industry is yet to commence operations as fears still persist about a second wave of outbreak. At the same time, the scenario remains equally negative in other major steel markets including Germany, Japan, Italy, and the US. On the other hand, the substantial impact of the virus outbreak in India, Russia, Mexico, Thailand, and South Korea, which are among the buzzing markets for steel, also has a significant negative influence on the overall steel industry, thus affecting the graphite electrode industry.
The most prominent application of graphite electrodes is in Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) for melting of scrap steel and iron, due to their superior thermal resistance and high current carrying capacity. EAF is a steel production technology that is being used by almost all mini-mills. Production of graphite electrodes involves a process in which petroleum coke is mixed with coal tar pitch, following which the mixture is subjected to extrusion and shaping processes. The electrodes act as energy carrying conductors in the EAF steel making process, and are used for generating heat required to melt raw materials such as scrap metal or iron ore in order to produce steel or other types of metals. Graphite electrodes account for about 2-3% of the total cost of steel production through this process. In addition to EAF steel production, graphite electrodes find use in steel refining process in ladle furnaces, as well as in other types of smelting processes like the production of titanium dioxide, brown alumina, yellow phosphorus, alloy steel and other metals.COVID-19 crisis has also affected steel scrap. Steel scrap is one of the primary raw materials for the steel industry that provides manufacturers with the option to use recycled scrap to produce steel in a cost competitive manner. The scrap used by steel makers is a mixture of obsolete scrap, prime scrap from producers and revert scrap from mills. Obsolete scrap represents over half of total scrap volume. The availability of obsolete scrap depends on useful life of a product and recycling rate. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted recycling activity and discouraged people from replacing white goods, which resulted in low production of obsolete scrap. Revert scrap is generated by steel makers as waste during the production process. With the pandemic hitting steel production globally, the output of revert scrap is expected to decline in 2020. On the other hand, prime scrap is generated during the production of steel-based components. Low demand for steel products and subdued manufacturing activity during the COVID-19 pandemic will affect overall output of prime scrap. The low availability of scrap along with muted flow enabled steel scrap to undergo price escalations. While these factors are expected to curb overall consumption of steel scrap, the anticipated decline in demand for steel scrap is likely to harm the graphite electrode market, the largest user for processing scrap. Construction, Automotive, Ship-Building & Machine Tools which account for a major chunk of steel consumption are all collapsing. While construction is looking at $900 billion in losses, the automotive sector is preparing for a demand reduction of 9.8 million vehicles in major markets. Ship building is expected to record $18.5 billion in losses as world trade collapses by 20% to 30%, while machine tools $13.9 billion in lost revenues as manufacturing comes under the fury of weak domestic & international consumption and a global recession. Competitors identified in this market include, among others,
- Graphite India Ltd.
- Nippon Carbon Co., Ltd.
- SGL Carbon SE