Global ferrous scrap imports mostly down in January-September 2014

Global steel scrap imports in the first nine months of 2014 were mainly in decline, with China increasingly buying less of it from overseas, according to the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR).

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Imports in China over the January-September period showed a further steep drop from a year earlier, underlining the country’s policy of buying more steel scrap from domestic sources than overseas. It imported 1.962 million tonnes of scrap, down 43.4% from the same period a year earlier, BIR said in its latest quarterly report on ferrous metals.

For the whole of 2013, China imported 4.465 million tonnes of ferrous scrap, down 10.2% from 2012.

However, there was a further increase in scrap usage for crude steel production in China over January-September 2014, edging upwards by 4.8% to 67.4 million tonnes.

Japan also registered a rise in scrap consumption over the nine-month period. It consumed 27.8 million tonnes, a 2.9% increase.

Both these countries saw their scrap usage increase by a higher percentage than that of their crude steel output during those nine months, BIR pointed out. China’s produced 618 million tonnes of crude steel, up 2.3% on the year, while Japan posted a 0.8% rise in its output to 83.1 million tonnes.

Scrap usage also grew in the European Union (up 2.4% to 68.9 million tonnes), South Korea (up 0.8% to 24.3 million tonnes) and Russia (up 0.3% to 14.02 million tonnes). For these regions, the increases in scrap usage were lower in percentage terms than their respective gains in crude steel production.

The January-September 2014 figures also showed that scrap usage in the USA was unchanged, at 39.2 million tonnes, while that in Turkey dipped by 1.6% to 21.57 million tonnes.

Apart from China, Malaysia also recorded a substantial reduction in overseas ferrous scrap purchases. The Southeast Asian country took in 0.824 million tonnes, down 49.8% year-on-year.

Other countries that imported less scrap during the period were South Korea (down 7.1% to 6.433 million tonnes), India (down 15.4% to 4.06 million tonnes), Taiwan (down 5.7% to 3.177 million tonnes), Indonesia (down 20.4% to 1.51 million tonnes), and Canada (down 17.2% to 1.096 million tonnes).

Turkey – the world’s foremost scrap importer – increased its overseas purchases by a marginal 0.2% to 14.68 million tonnes in the first nine months of 2014, BIR said. This came in the wake of a reduction of 12% in 2013.

Also in positive territory were the scrap imports of the USA (up 14.5% to 3.154 million tonnes), the EU (up 2.6% to 2.417 million tonnes) and Thailand (up 66.7% to 1.06 million tonnes).