CONAC — October 2012
The fifth Congreso y Exposicion de la Industria del Acero (CONAC) was held on 8–10 October 2012 in Monterrey, Mexico. Hosted by the AIST Mexico Member Chapter together with Mexico’s steel association Cámara Nacional de la Industria del Acero (CANACERO), CONAC has become the premier event for Mexican steelmakers and suppliers to come together. CONAC, held once every two years, continues to grow, and 2012 was no exception. This year’s event was held at the Cintermex complex in Monterrey — a change from the Centro Convex facility, where the event was previously held — as additional space was needed to make room for more exhibitors and technical sessions. The event attracted 998 attendees, an increase of 33% from the 752 attendees in 2010; and 64 exhibitors, a 45% increase from the number of exhibitors in 2010. The number of technical sessions at this year’s event more than doubled to a total of 75 and covered a wide range of topics, including steelmaking, rolling, processes and uses of steel, primary processes, maintenance and safety.
Porfirio Gonzalez, director of PMP Group and outgoing president of the Mexico Member Chapter, and Hugo Solís, industrial director of Ternium Mexico and outgoing vice president of the Mexico Member Chapter, welcomed company presidents and other guests at a VIP breakfast on 8 October. There, Solís explained that one of the main goals of the Mexico Member Chapter is to become a leading AIST Member Chapter. Ron Ashburn, executive director of AIST, gave a brief presentation on the main values of AIST — networking, education and sustainability — and some of the ways the Mexico Member Chapter can take advantage of the programs offered and supported by AIST. Leaders from companies such as ArcelorMittal, Gerdau, AHMSA and CANACERO expressed their desire to participate and help the chapter achieve a leadership status within AIST. An opening ceremony to welcome attendees featured a number of AIST Mexico leaders, including Mr. Gonzalez and Hector Morales, director of Aceroteca. Gonzalez highlighted some of the successes of the Mexico Member Chapter, including the formation of the first Mexico student chapter in 2011–2012, which currently has 250 active students. The student chapter has been involved in several events, including a professor tour of Ternium, a student visit to AHMSA, a course entitled “Arte en el alambre” (“Wire Art”), and a Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo (UAEH) student visit to Ternium’s plant in Puebla. Mexico currently has great growth prospects, explained Alejandro Gonzalez, planning director for Ternium Mexico and the keynote speaker for the opening ceremony. Its economy has been growing by more than 4% annually since the global economic crisis — nearly double the world’s growth rate. The country has become a magnet for investment in the automotive industry, he explained, with Nissan, Mazda, Honda, Chrysler, Audi and GM among those automakers making investments in the major steelconsuming sector. The country’s infrastructure market is also a hot spot for steel, with some US$11 billion slated for natural gas, aqueduct and other infrastructure projects over the next five years. Gonzalez forecast that these projects will consume an estimated 1.5 million tonnes of steel products.
Gonzalez cautioned, however, that the country’s steel sector also faces many challenges — among them, the deceleration in the global economy, as well as domestic industrial promotion by governments of other countries such as the United States’ Buy America program, China’s subsidies, and Brazil and Colombia’s import tariffs. Steel imports into Mexico have been growing from NAFTA partners, as well as from South Korea, Japan and China, creating both challenges and opportunities for domestic steelmakers, Gonzalez noted. On one hand, Mexican steelmakers are competing with low-cost producers struggling with their own high capacities, high supplies and weak economies. On the other hand, the imports are creating the opportunity for Mexican steelmakers to expand their own production into other areas, such as high-strength steels, where demand is currently being met only by imports.
The AIST Mexico Member Chapter held a dinner for suppliers, steelmakers and invited guests at the Horno 3 Steel Museum at the Parque Fundidora, as in previous years. This year, however, the dinner featured dancers, singers and musicians performing traditional Mexican songs and dance. The dinner speaker was Mr. Solís, who recognized Mr. P. Gonzalez and the other AIST Mexico leaders for their initiatives, drive and charisma, which have strengthened the chapter over the last few years. He stressed he will continue to work hard as Mexico Member Chapter president to continue improving and growing the chapter. He introduced the newest members of the board: vice president Rafael Colás, director of the Center for Innovation, Research and Development in Engineering and Technology at Universidade Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL); secretary Andrés Delfino, general director of Vesuvius Mexico; and treasurer Ignacio Díaz, public relations and customer service manager for Grúas Monterrey. Also recognized at the dinner were other members who have helped and continue to help the Mexico chapter move forward. Myrna Molina Reyna, operations director for AIST Mexico, was given special recognition for her hard work and dedication to the chapter and for putting together another successful CONAC event.
Several groups of high school and university students interested in pursuing engineering degrees attended the exhibition on its final day, speaking with the suppliers, producers and other exhibiting companies about their products and services and opportunities for careers in the industry.
Two plant tours were also available for CONAC attendees: one to Ternium’s Planta Juventud, which produces galvanized and other coated steel products, and the other to Ternium’s long products Planta Norte. CONAC continues to grow each year and is the Mexico chapter’s main source of funding, allowing it to work toward its goals of: increasing support for students and young professionals through scholarships and training, promoting further chapter participation among producing and processing companies, and making the chapter a leader within AIST on the international level. On 19–21 June 2013, the AIST Mexico Member Chapter will host AIST’s The Making, Shaping and Treating of Steel: 101 course in Monterrey, and in 2014, the chapter will also host AIST’s International Steel Academy.