World crude stainless steel production was just over 42 million tonnes in 2015, making up just 2.50% of global steel output.
But while stainless steel is a small segment of the total steel market, it is vitally important for the raw material industries that feed it: stainless steel production accounts for 70% of total nickel use, and 80% of ferro-chrome use.
Like many industries, the stainless steel sector was given a profound shake-up by the emergence in the sector of China (see graph). In 2000, the East Asian country accounted for just over 3% of world stainless steel production; by 2015, this figure had grown to 52%.
China swung from being a major net importer of stainless steel (more than 3 million tonnes melt equivalent in the middle of the last decade) to a major exporter (more than 3.50 million tonnes melt equivalent in 2014). This switch has led to the closure of...