Press Release

Shortage of “indispensable” graphite electrodes threatens to strangle EU steel production

Brussels, 18 September 2017 – Tight supply conditions for carbon graphite electrodes are threatening to stall EU steel production. These graphite rods are indispensable in Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) ‘secondary’ steelmaking and in the Ladle Furnace (LF) metallurgy stages of both the EAF and ‘primary’ Blast Furnace-Basic Oxygen Furnace (BF-BOF) production routes.

Graphite electrodes are made from high quality needle coke. Needle coke is a premium grade, high value petroleum coke, which has been seeing shortages and sharply higher prices in recent months”, said Axel Eggert, Director General of the European Steel Association (EUROFER). “This global shortage has been caused by the idling of global production capacity over the past few years, followed by production stoppages recently enforced by the Chinese authorities as a result of additional environmental standards”.

Mr Eggert continued, “The global carbon graphite electrode market is serviced by relatively few companies in a limited number of regions. Many producers are to be found in China, with others located in India, United States, Japan and Europe. All are heavily dependent on the availability of needle coke. With Chinese supplies of needle coke and graphite out of the market, there is a clear shortage of both materials”.

European steel production is dependent on imported graphite electrodes. Around 226,000 tonnes of electrodes are consumed every year in the EU. Of this, more than 60% of the smaller LF-type rods come from China, meaning that both primary and secondary steel production could be seriously affected by the ongoing shortage and supply volatility.

“Seamless supply of these electrodes has long been the norm for the sector. However this stability is now at risk”, concluded Mr Eggert. “Steel producers will need to be very cautious and take the necessary steps in order to prevent production disruptions caused by any prolonged shortage of electrodes”.


Notes for Editors


Charles de Lusignan, Communications Manager, +32 2 738 79 35, (charles@eurofer.be)


A PDF of this Press Release is available: here.

About the European Steel Association (EUROFER)

EUROFER is located in Brussels and was founded in 1976. It represents the entirety of steel production in the European Union. EUROFER members are steel companies and national steel federations throughout the EU. The major steel companies and national steel federations in Switzerland and Turkey are associate members.

About the European steel industry

The European steel industry is a world leader in innovation and environmental sustainability. It has a turnover of around €170 billion and directly employs 320,000 highly-skilled people, producing on average 170 million tonnes of steel per year. More than 500 steel production sites across 22 EU Member States provide direct and indirect employment to millions more European citizens. Closely integrated with Europe’s manufacturing and construction industries, steel is the backbone for development, growth and employment in Europe.

Steel is the most versatile industrial material in the world. The thousands of different grades and types of steel developed by the industry make the modern world possible. Steel is 100% recyclable and therefore is a fundamental part of the circular economy. As a basic engineering material, steel is also an essential factor in the development and deployment of innovative, CO2-mitigating technologies, improving resource efficiency and fostering sustainable development in Europe.



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