US HBI exports increase amid stronger European demand

US exports of hot-briquetted iron have ramped up over the summer months as European steelmakers seek out lower-carbon feedstocks as new regulations come into effect, according to S&P Global Commodities at Sea.

The US exported 174,038 mt of HBI in the June-July period, compared to 120,981 mt over April-May and an increase of 63% from 74,419 mt in June-July 2022, according to CAS.

The destinations of these shipments have also shifted as all US HBI export cargoes went to Mexico in April-May, but were targeting Spain, France and Belgium as well as Mexico and Turkey in June-July.

“There has been a lot of HBI leaving Texas in July,” a Midwest trader said. “Markets are functioning as they should and are finding a better price on an FOB basis for export, because in Europe there is higher demand from emissions targets. Otherwise, there is no reason it would have to leave the US.”

According to CAS, all US export cargoes of HBI since 2017 have originated from the 2 million mt/yr production facility in Corpus Christi, Texas, which was opened by Austria-based steelmaker Voestalpine in Oct. 2016. Luxembourg-based steelmaker Arcelormittal acquired an 80% stake in the plant July 2022.

ArcelorMittal is the world’s second-largest steel producer with mill operations in Spain, France and Belgium, as well as Mexico and the US in Calvert, Alabama.

The EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism will enter into a transitional phase from Oct. 1, from which point carbon-intensive industries such as steelmaking will be required to report a carbon accounting for imported products. From Jan. 1, 2026, EU mills will be required to pay for carbon offsets in the form of auctioned CBAM certificates.

Author Greg Holt