Polish government seeks EU-wide scrap monitoring

Polish economic development and technology minister Waldemar Buda has written to the European Commission to appeal for a discussion at EU level about the problems facing the steel industry, namely the availability of scrap feedstock.

The industry has been hit in recent years by the Covid-19 pandemic impact and rising energy costs. Steel shortages have meanwhile hampered sectors such as construction, machine-building, automotive and white goods.

Polish authorities have already begun discussions with their Italian counterparts over stabilising the steel market, and plan to hold meetings with representatives of other EU nations. Italy carries out very close monitoring of its scrap exports.

“I think that the worst of the market instability is behind us – there’s no problem with the availability of this raw material [scrap], but its prices are not satisfactory,” Buda said last week. The comments came after he met with Polish steel industry representatives, Kallanish notes.

Polish scrap export restrictions could be ineffective if material is trans-shipped through neighbouring EU countries. “EU-wide action is needed in order to secure the raw material that is scrap. It should be treated as a strategic raw material over the medium term,” Buda said.

As for energy-intensive industries compensation, Poland has submitted its programme to the Commission. “The compensation system should stabilise the costs on the part of producers and provide an opportunity for production at reasonable prices,” Buda commented.

“We must maintain good economic performance and projected GDP growth. This requires access to raw materials at a predictable level in particular industries. We cannot allow for a halt in the construction market or in the steel production sector,” he added.

The minister said authorities want Polish steel users to switch to domestic procurement, while scrap sales should be carried out to EU partners. This will increase self-sufficiency and security in the event of interrupted supply chains, as the bloc is now dealing with due to the war in Ukraine.

In 2021 Poland exported 2.8 million tonnes of scrap, with Germany taking 0.91mt, Turkey 0.53mt and Czech Republic 0.36mt.

Adam Smith Germany