At the AIB (Industrial Association of Brescia) headquarters the coming editions of Metef-Foundeq and Metalriciclo-Recomat, the international trade fairs organized by Alfin-Edimet which will be held from 18 to 21 April in verona, were presented. Metef-Foundeq is the world renown biennial trade fair for the aluminium sector, technological metals and the foundry and Metalriciclo-Recomat is the trade show dedicated to technologies for the recycling of metals and industrial materials.
The presentation was made at the closing of the meeting "Ferrous and Non-ferrous metals in 2011 and 2012 - Leading players speak", an event that saw representatives of the major industry associations, who have long supported the two events organized by Alfin-Edimet, discuss the situation of the Italian metallurgical industry and prospects for 2012, a year which will be taken with caution as well as optimism following 2011 which saw positive results for the foundry sectors and steel in particular.
The meeting, opened and moderated by Paolo Kauffmann, Senior Partner of Kauffmann & Sons, also offered the participation of Giuseppe Pasini, President of Federacciai, Romano Pezzotti, President of Assofermet Rottami (Scrap), Franco Zanardi, Vice-President of Assofond, Gino Schiona, Director General of CiAl, Stefano Vittorio Kuhn, Deputy Director General and Sales Director of Banco di Brescia, the main sponsor of Metef-Foundeq.
The speakers expressed their satisfaction with the transfer of Metef-Foundeq and Metalriciclo-Recomat to Veronafiere and the belief that this will ensure the further development of the events.
What emerged from the AIB meeting is that 2012 will be a year to be taken with caution for the metals market. After a 2011 that, with ups and downs, concluded positively from the production standpoint, the new year raises some concerns. According to the data provided by Giuseppe Pasini regarding the first 11 months of 2011, the Italian steel industry enjoyed a growth of 11.3% over 2010, with a +18% for flat products and +7.3% for long products. Furthermore, Italian exports of steel grew a good +12.5% while imports grew at a slower pace, 7.3%. Pasini highlighted the growth in sales to the EU and a decrease to emerging countries. The Federacciai President commented that "Italian domestic consumption of steel is expected to be consistent with last year" adding that the steel industry will not be able to escape to the effects of a decreasing GDP.
On the contrary, 2011 was a weak year for copper according to Assomet: the consumption of refined metal declined -6.2% (581,000 t) as a consequence of the reduced activity of transformers. In fact, the production of semifinished copper products dropped 6.7% (556,100 t). Electrical copper products like wire and bars did worse than the industry average, dropping 8.8% (433,000 t). Products for construction such as rolled products (-19.3% to 45,100 t) and pipes for plumbing, heating and industrial uses also fell below the average, 6.2% to 62,400 t. This is an economic trend that joins a long term trend characterized by the progressive replacement of copper in building applications either because it is vulnerable to theft or because it suffers the competition of cheaper materials. In addition, the production of semi-finished copper alloy products (501,400 t) decreased by 2.8% primarily due to a lower production of brass bar, which lost 2.6% (455,700 t). Rolled alloys did poorly also: -4.2% (62,400 t). In contrast, aluminium is showed a good trend: according to Assomet, the global consumption reached nearly 2 million tonnes (1,955,000 t), up by 19.7%, the second best result ever, second only to 2007 (2,050,000 t). In contrast with the rigid domestic production of primary metal, imports have increased to 1,013,400 (+23.5%). The production of secondary metal is also doing well, having benefited from a strong demand, both domestic and foreign (especially from the EU), which pushed domestic production to 750,000 tonnes (+24.2%). Even the use of secondary, especially in the die casting sector, increased significantly to 666,000 tonnes (+28.5%). On the semifinished products front, extruded products experienced a +4.0% to 475,400 t, benefiting from a lively foreign demand (+5.3%) thus reaching an export quota of about 45% of production. The global demand for rolled products was satisfactory (+6.8% to 458,100 t) largely a result of the positive performance of the packaging sector given that the demand for other uses dropped. Lead production also showed positive figures, all from secondary materials since the closure of the primary plant in 2008. Production reached 159,700 t with an increase of 6.5%. Finally, the consumption of crude zinc remained essentially unchanged (+0.3%) at 349,400 tonnes covered by imports (+4.7%).
Franco Zanardi reported a 2011 characterized by a recovery of profitability to pre-crisis levels for the Italian foundry sector and stressed the risk of venturing into predictions that often are wrong. It is better to focus on how to configure the company so as to have the solidity to withstand the stress tests coming from the market. It is important to seize the opportunities when and where they arise, in those areas offering the prospect of development. Today they are those with a high technological level, above all automotive and mechanical engineering. In this regard, Italian foundries are innovative enough to tackle the coming months with good prospects for success.
Fabrizio Carmagnini, Secretary General of Amafond, recalled the increases in costs that foundry machinery and products manufacturers faced in 2011 and that still today strive to transfer to their customers, that is, the foundries. In this environment, it is easier for manufacturers to look toward foreign markets while keeping a careful eye on the domestic market that still moves.
Regarding the scrap sector Romano Pezzotti reported that "the year started with good figures and we believe that the first quarter will end with figures in line with those of the fourth quarter of 2011". The issues for this sector will be tied above all to "a stifling bureaucracy, the need for greater liquidity for companies and the rising costs to obtain financing for investments".
Stefano Vittorio Kuhn, Deputy Director of Banco di Brescia, the main sponsor of Metef-Foundeq 2012, was most welcome given the criticality represented by the difficult access to credit by businesses. Mr Kuhn pointed out that in the last three years Banco di Brescia has increased the lending share to the sector by 1.5 billion euros.