“Customers are placing orders for immediate demand requirements,” Millet said during the call on Tuesday April 20. “Markets are strong. Automotive and mining are doing well, solar is a growing market and we are seeing some demand in oil in gas.”

Supply will remain tight as well due to upcoming maintenance outages in the integrated industry and shutdowns on the mini-mill side, according to Millett. 

For automotive, he predicted that the semiconductor chip shortage could have a negative impact on the number of vehicles built in the US this year. Demand for vehicles is “incredibly strong,” he said, and dealers are struggling to get inventory.

“The automotive projection was 17-18 million vehicles this year, but the chip shortage could impact that number by 1-1.5 million units,” Millet said.

The Fort Wayne, Indiana-based steelmaker reported record sales and net income for the first quarter of 2021 thanks to robust steel demand and higher selling prices for flat-rolled products.

When asked why more imports weren't coming in with prices so high and demand so good, Millet said: “Import is picking up. [But] you have a world economy. Europe is strong, China is strong, so the import availability is not there.”

US steel import licenses surged in March, with increases recorded in the semi-finished and finished goods categories.

Sinton update
SDI expects its hot strip mill in Sinton, Texas, to be commissioned in September. 

Shipments from Sinton will commence in the fourth quarter, during which time the company expects Sinton to ship 150,000 to 200,000 tons, Millett said.

SDI already has four customers - who could process up to 1.3 million tons of steel per year - committed to move onto the Sinton campus, he said. 
SDI is currently in talks with several other customers about moving to the campus or setting up operations nearby. Millett expects to host seven customers on site, with 1.4 million tons per year of steel processing capacity.

In January, the company said it expected its coating lines at Sinton to open in the second quarter of this year.

Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index, fob mill US reached an all-time high of $69.73 per cwt on April 20.