South Korean steelmakers are rushing to ramp up capacity utilization in an effort to meet rising demand at home and abroad, industry sources said Wednesday.
The move comes amid stabilizing international steel prices due to a drop in China's steel exports, and expectations for an increase in domestic demand for steel used in construction.
According to the sources, leading steelmaker Posco has decided to postpone repair work on a cold-rolled steel plant in Gwangyang on the south coast, originally scheduled for March 8-13, until April to meet growing demand.
Cold-rolled steel products are used in cars, electronics products and making steel pipes.
No. 2 industry player Hyundai Steel Co. has also advanced its repair schedule, completing repair work at the end of the year.
A Hyundai Steel official said the company is normally operating its plants by adjusting its repair schedule and expanding its supply of steel products.
In the wake of rising demand and raw material prices, local steelmakers are marking up their product prices.
POSCO will jack up prices of hot-rolled steel sheets by 50,000 won ($44.96) per ton following increases of 80,000 won and 100,000 won in January and February, respectively. Hyundai Steel has also decided to hike prices by 50,000 won next month.
According to the industry ministry, ore prices sold at the Chinese port of Qingdao came to $175.96 per ton as of Monday, up more than $10 from the start of this year.
An industry source forecast steelmakers to increase product prices more down the road amid a recovery in demand from carmakers, shipbuilders and other industrial sectors.
In addition, prices of reinforcing bars and other steel products used in construction remain bullish following the announcement of a government plan to increase the number of new homes by up to 836,000 nationwide in the next four years. (Yonhap)