Quarterly Report – July 2019

January-March 2019 update

According to worldsteel, world crude steel production amounted to 444.1 million tonnes in the first three months of 2019, an increase of 4.5% over the same period in 2018.

Data in our corresponding table show year-on-year crude steel production increases for China (+9.9% to 231.069 million tonnes), the USA (+16.8% to 22.226 million tonnes) and the Republic of Korea (+1.6% to 18.108 million tonnes), with a very slender production gain also recorded by Russia (+0.1% to 18.018 million tonnes). Conversely, production declines were registered by the EU-28 (-2% to 42.297 million tonnes), Japan (-5.4% to 24.971 million tonnes) and Turkey (-14.5% to 8.189 million tonnes).

China increases steel scrap usage by 14.1%

In the first three months of 2019, there was a further 14.1% leap in China’s steel scrap usage for crude steel production to 45.6 million tonnes; this figure compares to 39.97 million tonnes for the same period in 2018 and underlines China’s position as the world’s largest steel scrap user.

As indicated in our previous report, this increase in steel scrap usage is mainly due to higher pollutant emission standards for the steel industry. Most of China’s BOF mills have actively increased their scrap input. Their steel scrap/crude steel ratio is currently around 25-30%. In addition, many new scrap-intensive EAFs are being installed; indeed, worldsteel confirms that China’s electric furnace production increased from 81 million tonnes in 2017 to 121 million tonnes last year.

In the first three months of 2019, steel scrap usage for crude steel production also increased in the EU-28 (+2.3% to 23.96 million tonnes), the USA (+5.2% to 12 million tonnes), Russia (+0.5% to 7.646 million tonnes) and the Republic of Korea (+2.1% to 7.340 million tonnes). Conversely, there was a decline in steel scrap consumption in Japan (-1.5% to 8.92 million tonnes) and an even bigger reduction in Turkey (-18.6% to 6.687 million tonnes). According to the Turkish Steel Producers Association, the underlying reason was a 20% decrease in electric furnace production in the first quarter of 2019.

For January-March 2019, total steel scrap use in the seven key countries and regions was 112.153 million tonnes. Related crude steel production was around 364.9 million tonnes, which amounts to 82.2% of total world crude steel production. We would like to add India, Brazil and Canada to this table, which would then present verified data for around 90% of global steelmaking.

Steep decrease in Turkey’s overseas steel scrap purchases

The first three months of 2019 brought a steep 27.6% year-on-year decline in Turkey’s overseas steel scrap purchases to 3.893 million tonnes. According to market participants, this is primarily attributable to: additional US import tariffs on Turkish steel; sluggish long steel demand in the domestic and export markets; and the weakness of the Turkish lira. Nevertheless, the data for the first quarter of 2019 confirm Turkey’s position as the world’s foremost steel scrap importer.

Over the same period, the Republic of Korea was the world’s second-largest steel scrap importer with a 19.5% increase to 1.908 million tonnes. Also higher in the first three months of 2019 were overseas purchases by the world’s third-largest steel scrap importer India (+44.3% to 1.8 million tonnes), the USA (+4.7% to 1.154 million tonnes), the EU-28 (+10.1% to 0.722 million tonnes) and Belarus (+16.9% to 0.345 million tonnes). Conversely, import declines were recorded by Taiwan (-1.5% to 0.771 million tonnes), Canada (-42.2% to 0.372 million tonnes), Thailand (-48.2% to 0.227 million tonnes) and China (-86.4% to 0.062 million tonnes).

Small upturn in EU-28’s overseas steel scrap shipments

The EU-28 remained the world’s leading steel scrap exporter in upping its outbound shipments in the first three months of 2019 by 2.6% to 5.343 million tonnes, the main buyer being Turkey on 3.037 million tonnes (-7.8% year on year). The EU-28 increased its overseas shipments to India (+89.6% to 0.546 million tonnes), Egypt (+3.1% to 0.381 million tonnes) and Bangladesh (+246.4% to 0.194 million tonnes). Conversely, a drop was recorded in EU-28 deliveries to Pakistan (-10.4% to 0.319 million tonnes), the USA (-8.2% to 0.169 million tonnes) and Switzerland (-18.4% to 0.115 million tonnes).

The first three months of 2019 brought a drop in US overseas steel scrap shipments (-12.4% to 3.606 million tonnes). Among the leading buyers to extend their purchases from the USA were the Republic of Korea (+248.5% to 0.359 million tonnes), Canada (+52.4% to 0.311 million tonnes) and Malaysia (+86.8% to 0.226 million tonnes). In contrast, decreases in US scrap deliveries were recorded by the main buyer Turkey (-15.7% to 0.825 million tonnes), as well as by Taiwan (-5.2% to 0.419 million tonnes), Mexico (-3.6% to 0.304 million tonnes) and India (-22.1% to 0.201 million tonnes).

There was a first-quarter drop in steel scrap exports from Japan (-2.5% to 1.770 million tonnes), Canada (-1% to 1.026 million tonnes), Russia (-32.8% to 0.761 million tonnes) and Hong Kong (-25% to 0.252 million tonnes). Over the same period, an upturn was recorded in steel scrap exports from Singapore (+4.1% to 0.202 million tonnes).

It is my pleasure to inform you that Daniela Entzian from our BDSV member federation in Germany has been Deputy Advisor of the BIR Ferrous Division since our May 2019 Convention in Singapore.

Rolf Willeke - Rolf Willeke (World Steel Recycling in Figures)

Rolf Willeke

Statistics Advisor of the BIR Ferrous Division

World Steel Recycling in Figures
Quarterly Report – July 2019