World crude steel production reached 1.808 billion tonnes in 2018, up 4.5% from 2017. According to worldsteel, crude steel production increased in all regions last year - with the exception of the EU which saw a 0.5% contraction.
The global increase in basic oxygen furnace production (+1.8% to 1.267 billion tonnes) was bettered by the upturn in scrap-intensive electric furnace production (+12% to around 524 million tonnes). There was a small increase in global blast furnace iron production (+2.3% to 1.246 billion tonnes) but stronger growth in global DRI production (+11.9% to 84.3 million tonnes).
Looking at the key countries and regions, worldsteel confirms that China’s crude steel production reached 928.3 million tonnes in 2018 (+6.6% over the previous year), such that the country’s share of world output was 51.3%. Increases in crude steel production were also registered last year in the USA (+6.1% to 86.6 million tonnes), Russia (+1.7% to 72.8 million tonnes) and the Republic of Korea (+2% to 72.5 million tonnes). Conversely, there were small declines in crude steel production in the EU-28 (-0.5% to 167.7 million tonnes), Japan (-0.3% to 104.3 million tonnes) and Turkey (-0.6% to 37.3 million tonnes).
Further increase in China’s steel scrap usage
According to our figures, steel scrap consumption soared 27% in China last year to 187.8 million tonnes; this compares to 147.9 million tonnes in 2017 and underlines China’s position as the world’s largest steel scrap user. The proportion of steel scrap used in the country’s steel production increased to 20.2% in 2018.
As indicated in our quarterly reports, this increase in steel scrap usage is mainly due to the fact that the Chinese government has established stricter environmental quality standards and thereby higher pollutant emissions standards for the steel industry. To meet these new thresholds and in order to avoid production restrictions, most basic oxygen furnace mills have actively increased their steel scrap input. It has been reported that their steel scrap/crude steel ratio is currently around 25-30%. In addition, many new electric furnaces are being installed or are in the pipeline for the near future. Worldsteel confirms that China’s electric furnace production increased from 54 million tonnes in 2017 to 120.7 million tonnes last year. As a result, further investments in steel scrap processing are planned, especially in shredder capacity.
According to our statistics, there were also increases last year in steel scrap consumption for the EU-28, the USA, Japan and Russia:
- The EU-28 recorded slender growth in steel scrap consumption in 2018 (+0.3% to 93.812 million tonnes) while the region’s crude steel production went down (-0.5%). The proportion of steel scrap used in the region’s crude steel production increased to 55.9% in 2018. (New Eurofer compliance rules dictate that the breakdown of EU scrap consumption by country can be published only after a 12-month delay.)
- The USA recorded a small increase in its steel scrap usage last year (+2.2% to 60.1 million tonnes) whereas its crude steel production jumped 6.1%. The proportion of steel scrap used in the country’s crude steel production declined to 69.4% in 2018.
- Our 2018 figures reveal an increase in Japan’s steel scrap usage (+2.1% to 36.5 million tonnes) whereas the country’s crude steel production dropped by 0.3%. The proportion of steel scrap used in Japan’s crude steel production increased to 35% in 2018.
- Growth in Russia’s crude steel production last year (+1.7%) was eclipsed by the increase in the nation’s steel scrap usage (+5.5% to around 31 million tonnes). The proportion
of steel scrap used in Russia’s crude steel production climbed to 42.5% in 2018.
Also last year, there was a fall in Turkey’s steel scrap consumption (-0.4% to 30.1 million tonnes) while the country’s crude steel production dipped 0.6%. The proportion of steel scrap used in Turkish crude steel production declined to 80.7% in 2018.
The Republic of Korea recorded a decrease in steel scrap usage last year (-2.3% to 30 million tonnes) whereas its crude steel production increased by 2%. The proportion of steel scrap used in the Republic of Korea’s crude steel production dropped to 41.4% in 2018.
469 million tonnes of steel scrap use in key countries and regions
In 2018, there was an increase to around 469 million tonnes in steel scrap used by key countries and regions (+10.1% over the previous year) while related crude steel production was around 1.469 billion tonnes. It is important to note that the figure of 469 million tonnes represents verified data for 81% of global steelmaking.
Small decline in Turkey’s overseas steel scrap purchases
2018 brought a small decline in Turkey’s overseas steel scrap purchases of 1.5% to 20.660 million tonnes. However, the data still confirm Turkey’s position as the world’s foremost steel scrap importer. The country’s main suppliers were the USA (-2.4% to 3.705 million tonnes), the UK (-16.7% to 2.648 million tonnes), Russia (+7% to 2.518 million tonnes), the Netherlands (-15.1% to 2.318 million tonnes) and Belgium (-4.5% to 1.911 million tonnes).
The Republic of Korea was the world’s second-largest steel scrap importer in 2018 with a year-on-year increase of 3.5% to 6.393 million tonnes. The country’s main suppliers were Japan (+0.7% to 4.041 million tonnes), Russia (-9.3% to 0.923 million tonnes) and the USA (+68.3% to 0.877 million tonnes).
The world’s third-largest steel scrap importer last year was India with an 18% increase over 2017 to 6.33 million tonnes. The country’s main suppliers were the United Arab Emirates (+57.6% to 1.160 million tonnes), the USA (-14.4% to 0.702 million tonnes), the UK (+35% to 0.694 million tonnes) and Singapore (+126.3% to 0.473 million tonnes).
Also higher in 2018 were steel scrap imports into the USA (+8.5% to 5.030 million tonnes), Taiwan (+24.3% to 3.629 million tonnes), Canada (+64.1% to 3.471 million tonnes), Indonesia (+35.2% to 2.510 million tonnes), Mexico (+7.4% to 1.913 million tonnes) and Belarus (+10.6% to 1.497 million tonnes). Conversely, import declines were recorded by the EU-28 (-7.2% to 2.850 million tonnes), Thailand (-1% to 1.724 million tonnes) and China (-42.3% to 1.343 million tonnes).
We have also received an official 2018 steel scrap import figure for Pakistan of 4.366 million tonnes (-8.8% compared to the previous year).
Steep upturn in US steel scrap exports
Global external steel scrap trade - including internal EU-28 trade - amounted to 105.4 million tonnes last year (+2.6% compared to 2017).
2018 produced a steep upturn in US overseas steel scrap shipments of 15.4% to 17.332 million tonnes, the main buyer being Turkey on 3.433 million tonnes (-5.5% year on year). Among the leading buyers to extend their purchases from the USA were Taiwan (+39% to 1.972 million tonnes), Mexico (+9.2% to 1.821 million tonnes), Canada (+53.3% to 1.409 million tonnes), Vietnam (+43.9% to 1.022 million tonnes), India (+33.5% to 0.944 million tonnes) and the Republic of Korea (+67.7% to 0.899 million tonnes).
The EU-28 remained the world’s leading steel scrap exporter last year in upping its outbound shipments by 6.7% to 21.436 million tonnes. The major buyer of EU-28 steel scrap was Turkey (-5.7% to 11.091 million tonnes). EU-28 overseas shipments of steel scrap increased last year to Egypt (+16.8% to 1.624 million tonnes), Pakistan (+18.4% to 1.619 million tonnes), India (+72.2% to 1.584 million tonnes), Bangladesh (+61.5% to 0.714 million tonnes) and Indonesia (+570.3% to 0.496 million tonnes). Conversely, a drop was recorded in EU-28 deliveries to the USA (-11.2% to 0.817 million tonnes).
The EU-28’s internal steel scrap exports totalled 29.090 million tonnes last year (-1.4%
compared to 2017).
In 2018, an upturn was apparent in steel scrap exports from Russia (+4.2% to 5.542 million tonnes) and Canada (+15.8% to 5.107 million tonnes). In contrast, there was a year-on year decline in Japan’s overseas shipments of steel scrap (-9.8% to 7.405 million tonnes). Drops in overseas shipments were also recorded last year by Australia (-0.6% to 1.968 million tonnes), Hong Kong (-6.2% to 1.295 million tonnes) and Singapore (-1.9% to 0.775 million tonnes).
In 2018, there was also a sharp decrease in steel scrap exports from China (-85% to 0.337 million tonnes).
Most of the world’s leading steel scrap exporters are major net steel scrap exporters: last year’s export surplus was, for example, 18.6 million tonnes for the EU-28 and 12.3 million tonnes for the USA.
More information appears in the tenth edition of “World Steel Recycling in Figures”, to be published at our Singapore Convention in May.
It has been a great pleasure to witness the enthusiasm with which the figures in our quarterly Ferrous Mirror and in our yearly statistics brochure have been received.
In closing, I would like to extend my special thanks to Daniela Entzian, who has been working closely with me for the last two years.
Statistics Advisor of the BIR Ferrous Division