The surge in plate prices, which gained momentum only a few weeks ago, is more pronounced in thinner-gauged plate, Kallanish hears from market players. Given the shortage of slab and coil products, any product that could work as a substitute will be absorbed by the hungry market.
Normally, thing-gauge plate is not a popular segment for reversing mills because it takes more rolling steps to bring plate to 12mm or less. “Plate mills normally prefer to stay away from thin gauges, and offer them only in small lots, or not at all,” one manager explains. But now that strip from coil is hard to find, sheet buyers are increasingly going for thin plate as an alternative.
Plate players polled by Kallanish see the current price targeted by mills for standard grade S355 in standard thicknesses at around €650/tonne ($794) ex-works, “…and the mills will get it,” the manager believes.
With respect to thinner gauges, he says: “I just saw prices from Italy where thin gauges are between €50 and €100 higher than gauges of 20mm.” He cites further offers of 8mm fetching €40 more than 12mm, “…and the spread is even wider when you go for 6mm,” he adds.
He notes that sheet from coil is generally preferred, for economic and quality reasons. Not only is its production process cheaper, but its tolerances are also better. However, plate allows for forming in both directions, while strip processing works only lengthwise, the manager points out.