CHINA STEEL SCRAP: Buyers consider new scrap origins

Some Chinese mills are seeking alternative scrap import suppliers because of expensive offers for Japanese heavy scrap (HS), sources said on Friday July 16.

Bids were heard at $535 per tonne cfr northern China on July 16, which would be equivalent to $525 per tonne cfr eastern China, and no new offers were heard on July 16. Prior to that, the latest to come in was on July 14 at $580-590 per tonne cfr China.

But some mill sources have recently received offers of Canadian scrap cargoes, they told Fastmarkets.

“The quality of the material is similar to the current grade of heavy scrap we have been using, which is acceptable to us,” a mill source based in Hebei province said. “Once we further confirm their scrap quality, it is highly likely we will book a trial cargo.”

The source was not willing to disclose the exact offer level for the Canadian scrap cargo but described it as “a very favorable price.”

Japan has been China’s most important scrap importer since China officially eased restrictions on scrap imports in January 2021. China imported 111,432 tonnes of ferrous scrap in May 2021, 71.2% of which originated in Japan.

Steel scrap negotiations between Chinese buyers and Japanese sellers have been limited in recent weeks, however, due to large discrepancies between bids and offers.

“[There are a] very limited number of offers from Japan to China right now,” a Japanese exporter source said. “The Chinese buyers were showing little interest in booking cargoes from Japan, so many sellers stopped offering as well.”

Key market participants had believed that the maximum workable prices for buyers on July 16 would be about $540-550 per tonne cfr northern China, which would be roughly equivalent to $530-540 per tonne cfr eastern China.

Fastmarkets’ daily price assessment for steel scrap, heavy recycled steel materials, cfr China, which takes into account prices at ports in eastern China, was $530-540 per tonne on Friday, unchanged from a day earlier.

Taiwanese buyers have continued to pressure prices lower, securing containerized HMS 1&2 (80:20) materials from the west coast of the United States at $460 per tonne cfr Taiwan most recently.

Taiwanese market sources continue to harbor bearish sentiments due to the lack of demand from other Asian countries.

As well, the Vietnamese scrap import market remains in a state of almost “total shutdown” due to the worsening Covid-19 pandemic, a source in the country said. This has led to lock-downs and business closures in key commercial hubs such as Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

Offers of bulk H2 cargoes were at $490-505 per tonne cfr Vietnam, while bulk HMS 1&2 (80:20) from Australia and the US were at $510-520 per tonne cfr Vietnam. There was low interest for imported cargoes.

Decarbonization complicates an already complex marketplace. Our latest analysis, The true price of green steel, takes a deep dive into the ripple effects that overhauling the markets will have on the steelmaking process and supply base.

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