MANILA - A group of local steel manufacturers is calling on the government to ban second hand steel furnaces from China, which produce lower quality steel and cause pollution.
After China banned the use of induction furnaces or IFs for making steel last year, many of the machines were sold to factories in Indonesia and the Philippines, according to a Reuters report.
"In the last 2 years, the production capacity of induction furnaces in the Philippines has more than doubled," said Roberto Cola, president of the Philippine Iron and Steel Institute industry group.
From around 150,000 tons of steel a year, IFs now produce 450,000 to 500,000 tons per year, Cola said in an interview with ANC's Market Edge.
Besides worsening pollution, IFs also have limited or no capacity to remove impurities when producing steel, resulting in inconsistent product quality, Reuters said.
This results in lower quality steel that can be sold 20 percent cheaper than steel made from electric arc furnaces.
If laws on product standards and pollution control were strictly implemented, Cola said steel from induction furnaces would not pass Philippines regulations.
"But then, we have very lax enforcement of these products standards and pollution control laws here in the Philippines. In Vietnam these induction furnaces are just outright banned," Cola said.
Cola, who is also vice president of Steel Asia Manufacturing Corp, said he was concerned about construction steel rebars produced from IFs because these furnaces were not designed to make construction-grade steel.
"We recommend that these furnaces should not be allowed because in the first place they are not designed for steelmaking."
Reuters reported that some Indonesian and Philippine steelmakers are also concerned that substandard steel from these factories pose a major risk in countries that are prone to earthquakes and typhoons.
Cola meanwhile urged contractors to check steel quality, saying substandard products, regardless of manufacturing process, will wind up even in Build Build projects if the contractor fails to scrutinize the material.