Metal Heads

Steel & Aluminum

A booming construction industry has created a spike in domestic demand for steel and aluminum, with capacities expanding to meet the need.

In 2012, Qatar had the strange honor of being the world’s largest consumer of steel per capita in the world, according to figures released by the World Steel Association. The magic number was 1,197.8 kilograms of steel per capita, up from 845.4 kilograms in the previous year. Qatar closely edged out South Korea and the UAE, with 1,112.8 kilograms and 1,018.3 kilograms, respectively. And that demand shows no signs of abating. Over 2013-2022, demand is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5%-6%, riding on the back of high government spending on infrastructure, especially in the run up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. At the forefront of steel production in the country is Qatar Steel, the region’s second largest producer of steel products after Saudi Arabia’s Hadeed. Its capacity currently stands at 1.2 million tons of molten steel per year, with a rolling mill capacity of 740,000 tons annually. While active on the domestic front, Qatar Steel has also forayed into foreign markets, entering into a joint venture with Algerian firm Sider to build a $2 billion steel plant in the North African country. Back home, Qatar Steel is far from alone in the market, with firms such as BSI Steel popping up to target niche areas. “[When we arrived in 2006,] Qatar had no pre-engineered steel industry,” said Kadem Rubie, CEO of BSI Steel, adding that, “when the Ministry [of Economy and Trade] wants to do a project, it needs to have a local partner, and we are the go-to supplier for pre-engineered steel.”

In aluminum terms, Qatar also plays with the big boys in the region. Qatar Aluminum (Qatalum), a joint venture between Qatar Petroleum (QP) and Norway’s Norsk Hydro, is the prime producer in the country, with the ability to pump out 600,000 tons of primary aluminum annually. The company is the fourth largest producer in the GCC, behind Dubai Aluminum, Aluminum Bahrain, and Emirates Aluminum. Located in Mesaieed Industrial City (MIC), Qatalum also exports to around 30 countries and three-quarters of its production is dedicated to the automotive industry. The construction sector boom has also positively impacted Qatar’s aluminum business, with a CAGR of 12% expected between 2012 and 2015, when it will reach a value of $436 million. Demand has increased from 1.4 million sqm in 2010 to 2.4 million sqm in 2015, mostly on the back of the expanded use of the material in construction, including for curtain wall systems and cladding in modern property developments.

With the construction sector still picking up pace, Qatar is likely to retain its crown as top steel consumer in per capita terms, while the aluminum sector will also continue to reap the benefits. Both will contribute to the ever changing skyline of Doha, serving as models for diversification, and the metals sector will remain a key part of Qatar’s evolving industrial matrix.

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