Middle East steel production expanded the fastest of any region last year, driven by significant growth in Iran, according to the latest data from the World Steel Association (Worldsteel).

Crude steel output in the Middle East rose 5.3 per cent to 24.2 million tonnes in 2012, compared with 23 million tonnes in 2011.

Global steel production expanded by 1.2 per cent in 2012, with growth in North America and Asia offsetting declines in South America and Europe, the EU seeing a 4.7 per cent drop in output.

Iran remained the largest steel producer in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, with the Islamic Republic’s output surging 9.6 per cent last year to 14.5 million tonnes.

Egypt reported more moderate growth of 2.2 per cent to 6.63 million tonnes, while Saudi Arabia’s output dropped 1.4 per cent to 5.2 million tonnes.

China was by far the world’s largest steel producer in 2012, followed by Japan and the US, according to Worldsteel, which assesses 62 countries comprising about 98 per cent of global output.