Putting figures into perspective

More than 100 million tons of castings, parts made from cast iron and steel or non-ferrous metals, are manufactured every year worldwide in total. According to the most recent global statistics, the total volume in 2013 was 103.2 million tons, with the following breakdown: Ferrous castings 84.8 million tons, aluminium 15.4 million tons and other non-ferrous metals 3 million tons. This represents a 3.4% increase on the previous year’s output or 3.4 millions tons.

If you look at South Africa’s contribution it is estimated that we contribute in the region of 0,5% of global production, and we rank at about 19th in the world.

If you look at the world crude steel producers for 2013 South Africa ranks at position 15 with 7.2 million metric tons out of a total of 1649 million metric tons and a 0.44% share.

In 2012, top steel scrap exporting countries by export volume (in 1,000 metric tons) were the U.S. (21397), EU-27 (19214), Japan (8459), Russia (4349), Canada (4248), Australia (2245), and South Africa (1632). On the other hand, in the same year, the top steel scrap importing countries were Turkey, South Korea, India, China, Taiwan, EU-27, Canada, Indonesia and Malaysia. Much to my surprise, Turkey is the biggest importer of scrap metal at 19.7 million metric tons (a 12% decrease on the previous year but still 10 million more than its closest ‘rival’ South Korea), produces 34.7 million metric tons of crude steel and produces 1.543 million tons of castings per year. Turkey also imports 11.4 million tons of steel, which puts them at number six in the world.

Turkey, a country with a population of 74 million, only produces about 4.5 million tons of iron ore and double that amount in pig iron. Turkey is converting these ‘raw materials’ into more though. For example they are ranked 13th in the world of machine tool production, 12th in the consuming category and 8th as importers.

By comparison, South Africa produces 67 million tons of iron ore and exports 64 million tons. We only manufacture 4.367 million tons of pig iron and we rank very lowly in machine tool production.

To put the figures into perspective, we are 19th in the world in casting production, third in the world in iron ore production and exports, 21st in the world in pig iron production, in 15th position for steel production and 7th in the world in scrap metal exports (a rise of 13.6% on the previous year, with our biggest buyers being India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Vietnam).

Therefore if we compare ourselves to a country like Turkey, that has minimal raw materials, we fail dismally in terms of beneficiation. But we stand out head and shoulders above Turkey in exporting our precious raw materials. And this is just for an area of manufacturing that we are familiar with.