Scrap trade inches down, US overtakes Korea: BIR

Global external steel scrap trading – including internal EU-28 trade – amounted to 99.3 million tonnes in 2020, down only 1.3% on-year despite the Covid-19 impact on major scrap-using regions, the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) points out.

The EU-28 remained the world’s leading steel scrap exporter, growing its outbound shipments in 2020 by 4% on-year to 22.63 million tonnes, the main buyer being Turkey with 14.06mt, up 17.5%. Shipments also grew to Pakistan by 18%, but fell to Egypt and India by 3.8% and 33% respectively. The largest EU-28 steel scrap exporter was the UK with 5.66mt.

The US reduced scrap exports by 4.6% last year to 16.87mt, despite increases to Turkey, Mexico, Malaysia and Bangladesh. Vietnam reduced intake considerably, BIR says in a note seen by Kallanish.

Japan, Russia and Canada also grew scrap exports in 2020 by 23%, 15% and 3% respectively to 9.4mt, 4.7mt and 4.5mt.

Global crude steel production totalled 1.877 billion tonnes in 2020, up 0.1%, with electric arc furnace-based output down 5.7% to 493mt.

Steel scrap consumption jumped 2% in China last year to 220.3mt from 215.9mt a year earlier, underlining China’s position as the world’s largest steel scrap user. The proportion of steel scrap used in the country’s steel production was slightly lower in 2020 at 20.7%, a result of higher oxygen furnace production.

Steel scrap usage also increased in Turkey last year, by 7.8% to 30.08mt, while the country’s crude steel production climbed 6.1%. The proportion of steel scrap used in the country’s crude steel production increased to 84.1% in 2020.

Conversely, there were declines in steel scrap consumption in the EU-28, the USA, Russia, Japan and the Republic of Korea. The EU-28 recorded a steel scrap consumption drop of 10.3% to 77.54mt, while US use fell 17.6% to 50mt.

Turkey remained the world’s largest scrap importer, growing intake by 19% to 22.44mt. It was followed by India, despite a decline in intake of 23.7% to 5.38mt. The US overtook Korea as third-largest importer, increasing intake 5.7% in 2020 to 4.51mt.

Adam Smith Germany