Quarterly Report – February 2021

January-September 2020 update

According to worldsteel, global crude steel production totalled 1.347 billion tonnes in the first nine months of 2020 - down 3.2% from the same period in 2019.

Data in the corresponding table show year-on-year crude steel production increases only for China (+4.5% to 781.593 million tonnes) and for Turkey (+2.6% to 25.932 million tonnes). Conversely, production declines were registered by the USA (-19.2% to 53.462 million tonnes), the EU-28 (-17.9% to 99.361 million tonnes), Japan (-19.1% to 61.208 million tonnes), the Republic of Korea (-7.5% to 49.632 million tonnes) and Russia (-1.4% to 53.269 million tonnes).

According to China’s “Masterplan Steel”, the country aims to reduce carbon emissions by cutting its steel output from 2021. The Chinese government is mulling over a strict ban on new steelmaking capacity, even as it phases out obsolete lines. It will also prevent a resurgence of idled capacity and induction furnaces.

China planning to raise steel scrap ratio

In the first nine months of 2020, there was a 1% drop in China’s steel scrap usage for crude steel production to 155.2 million tonnes, as compared to 156.78 million tonnes in the same period of 2019. However, steel scrap consumption of 61.45 million tonnes in the third quarter of 2020 was 17.7% higher than the 52.22 million tonnes consumed in the second quarter. These figures confirm that China remained the world’s largest steel scrap user during the period under review.

According to the above-mentioned steel masterplan, China is also planning to raise its scrap ratio to 30%. It will encourage steelmakers currently operating blast furnaces to increase electric furnace usage and support them in establishing large-scale scrap recycling, processing and distribution centres.

In the corresponding table for January-September 2020, Turkey alone reported a steel scrap consumption increase (+2.6% to 21.459 million tonnes), with electric furnace production growth (+2.6% to 17.605 million tonnes) slightly higher than the country’s basic oxygen production increase (+2.5% to 8.327 million tonnes). Conversely, steel scrap consumption declines were registered by Japan (-17.7% to 21.149 million tonnes), the USA (-17.1% to 32.4 million tonnes), the EU-28 (-12.9% to 57.188 million tonnes), the Republic of Korea (-11.8% to 19.100 million tonnes) and Russia (-4.7% to 22.179 million tonnes).

The table illustrates the negative influence of the Coronavirus pandemic on global steel scrap use and crude steel output in the first nine months of last year.

Turkey increases overseas steel scrap purchases by 14.9%

The first nine months of 2020 brought a 14.9% year-on-year upturn in Turkey’s overseas steel scrap purchases to 16.134 million tonnes, confirming the country’s position as the world’s foremost steel scrap importer. Also higher over the same period were the total steel scrap imports of Belarus (+1.3% to 1.011 million tonnes) and Switzerland (+12.7% to 0.319 million tonnes).

By contrast, steep drops in overseas purchases were recorded by the world’s second-largest steel scrap importer India (-22% to 3.786 million tonnes), third-placed Republic of Korea (-33.5% to 3.328 million tonnes), Canada (-56.4% to 0.831 million tonnes) and Russia (-66.3% to 0.300 million tonnes). Declines were also reported by the USA (-8.9% to 3.044 million tonnes) and the EU-28 (-7.1% to 2.073 million tonnes). Data for Pakistan, Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico are not available at the time of writing.

EU-28 remains leading steel scrap exporter 

The first nine months of 2020 brought a 2.9% decline in the EU-28’s overseas shipments to 15.652 million tonnes but it nevertheless remained the world’s leading steel scrap exporter during the period under review. There were increases in the EU-28’s outbound shipments to Turkey (+15.1% to 10.064 million tonnes), Pakistan (+13.9% to 1.302 million tonnes), the USA (+11.6% to 0.471 million tonnes) and Switzerland (+12.8% to 0.325 million tonnes). However, there were reduced EU-28 deliveries to Egypt (-12.7% to 1.281 million tonnes), India (-41.9% to 0.854 million tonnes) and Norway (-4.2% to 0.250 million tonnes).

The largest EU-28 steel scrap exporter in the first nine months of 2020 was the UK with total shipments of 3.959 million tonnes (-20.8% when compared to the same period of 2019). The EU-28’s internal steel scrap exports totalled 19.575 million tonnes in the same period (-10.9% versus January-September 2019).

The first three quarters of last year also produced a fall in US steel scrap exports (-4.3% to 12.692 million tonnes), despite higher shipments to Turkey (+17.2% to 3.171 million tonnes), Malaysia (+123.9% to 1.388 million tonnes), Mexico (+23.6% to 1.316 million tonnes) and Bangladesh (+38.6% to 1.005 million tonnes). Over the same period, lower US steel scrap exports were recorded to Taiwan (-1.8% to 1.286 million tonnes), Canada (-51.1% to 0.735 million tonnes) and Vietnam (-44.3% to 0.617 million tonnes).

Drops in overseas shipments were also recorded in the first nine months of last year by Canada (-4.2% to 3.132 million tonnes), Australia (-8% to 1.585 million tonnes), Hong Kong (-49.4% to 0.364 million tonnes) and Singapore (-32.2% to 0.362 million tonnes). Russia’s steel scrap exports were almost unchanged (-0.5% to 3.316 million tonnes), with its leading customers being Turkey (+28.3% to 1.820 million tonnes), Belarus (-18.4% to 0.629 million tonnes) and the Republic of Korea (-20.2% to 0.426 million tonnes).

Among the world’s leading steel scrap exporters in the first nine months of last year, only Japan increased its overseas shipments (+26.8% to 7.030 million tonnes); its main buyers were Vietnam (+54.9% to 2.434 million tonnes), the Republic of Korea (-25.4% to 2.236 million tonnes), Taiwan (+113.4% to 0.956 million tonnes) and Bangladesh (+245.2% to 0.580 million tonnes).

Also higher in the same period were overseas steel scrap exports out of: Brazil (+30.9% to 0.622 million tonnes), with the leading destination being India (+83.2% to 0.196 million tonnes); and South Africa (+2% to 0.300 million tonnes), with its top customer also being India (+13.8% to 0.198 million tonnes).

I would like to offer my special thanks to Daniela Entzian, the BIR Ferrous Division’s Deputy Statistics Advisor, for her excellent co-operation in compiling these figures.

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 – February 2021