CHINA STEEL SCRAP: Shipping bottlenecks, low demand limit trading

Import prices for heavy scrap (HS) in China moved down on Friday March 19 amid shipping difficulties and a drop in buying demand, sources told Fastmarkets.

Fastmarkets’ price assessment for steel scrap, heavy recycled steel materials, cfr China was $470-480 per tonne on Friday, down by $5-10 per tonne from a day earlier.

Chinese buyers have been lowering their bids for such imports in recent days despite a significant drop in offers for Japanese cargoes in the market due to logistical challenges.

“There are no firm offers of scrap to China currently because it is hard to charter vessels,” a Chinese steelmaker source told Fastmarkets.

A Japanese scrapyard source said: “Markets will stabilize again when we are able to get the right number of vessels and there are more shipments taking place at the docksides.”

In recent weeks, some Japanese exporters have been unable to fulfill agreed export contracts due to them encountering difficulties in the sourcing of vessels. This has led to a pile-up in their scrapyards, which forces them to slash both the purchase prices at the yard and their export selling prices.

Freight rates for bulk cargoes of scrap from Japan to Vietnam have risen above $55 per tonne from $35 per tonne in late 2020, while those for 5,000-tonne bulks of Japanese scrap to Taiwan have moved up to $30-32 per tonne compared with $22-23 per tonne late last year, sources said.

Bids for HS scrap from Japan - classified as HRS101 scrap in China - were heard at $470 per tonne cfr China on Friday. Sources said that the market’s tradeable range was around $470-480 per tonne cfr.

Mixed domestic prices
Mills in northern China, especially in Tangshan, lowered their purchase prices for steel scrap due to production curbs in place in the region to lower emissions.

One major long steel producer, for instance, announced a purchase price of 3,350 yuan ($515) per tonne, exclusive of value-added tax, for premium heavy scrap on Tuesday. This is down by 120 yuan per tonne from a week earlier.

But steelmakers in eastern China maintained their purchase prices to attract more supply.

Fastmarkets’ price assessment for steel scrap heavy scrap domestic, delivered mill China was 3,340-3,390 yuan per tonne on Friday, unchanged from a week earlier.

Downward pressure
Scrap import prices in China came under pressure from news of deep-sea cargoes of scrap being sold to Bangladesh and South Korea at lower prices.

Two bulk cargoes of United States-origin heavy melting scrap 1&2 (80:20) were sold to Bangladesh at $450-455 per tonne cfr earlier this week.

US sellers also sold two bulk cargoes of scrap to South Korea this week.

The first deal, which was concluded on Wednesday, involved 30,000 tonnes of HMS 1 at $432 per tonne cfr. The second, concluded Thursday, consisted of 45,000 tonnes of HMS 1 priced at $431 per tonne cfr.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel scrap, HMS 1&2 (80:20), deep-sea origin, import, cfr South Korea was $430-431 per tonne on Friday, down by $15-34 per tonne from $445-465 per tonne cfr a week earlier.

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