Edwin Basson

Director General, worldsteel


7 January 2022

Many of us had hoped that 2022 would bring more positive news on COVID-19 but the recent new variant is a reminder that this virus will remain a problem for a while. There are numerous signals that governments around the world are exploring policies that focus on living with the virus whilst keeping economies functioning in good order. 

2021 saw a stronger than originally expected recovery in steel demand based on vaccination rates and government support measures. As a consequence, we recently forecast that we could see demand increasing in 2022 by 2.2% to 1,896.4 Mt. Our largest steel using sector, construction, remained more resilient than most and we expect this to continue.

Safety is the steel industry’s number one priority and this was reflected in continuing improvement in the downward trend in both our fatality and our lost time injury frequency rate indicators. We recently completed a very important workshop with our members focussing on the importance of safety leaders in creating and sustaining a safety culture. We are now working on a detailed guidance on this which we expect to release in Q1 of 2022.

COP26 in Glasgow late in 2021 saw the launch of an important new initiative by the UK Presidency. The Glasgow Breakthroughs are a commitment by Governments to work together to accelerate the development and deployment of clean technologies needed to meet the Paris climate goals.

The Glasgow Breakthroughs will focus on hard to abate sectors, and the aim for steel is to make ‘near-zero emission steel’ the preferred choice in global markets by 2030. The initiative plans to address innovation, facilitating collaboration, standards and finance. Forty-two countries launched and endorsed the programme, hopefully, bringing a positive effort to introduce coordination and alignment in a somewhat crowded and chaotic space. We will be fully engaged with the Breakthroughs team.

I wanted to finish by bringing another of our very important programmes to your attention. steeluniversity, our education and training initiative, has seen significant growth in its steelHub application. steelHub allows organisations to integrate steel-related training within their own learning management systems, accessing the content of over 123 specialist courses provided by seven publishers. Our courses were used over 32,000 times last year. 2022 will bring continued development of a skill industry competence map that will give the companies the opportunity to identify and match skills gaps with the right training.

Our focus for 2022 is safety, climate action and skills.

I wish our readers a safe and happy new year.