Japanese scrap, mini-mill product prices on the rise

Prices of both scrap and mini-mill products are on the rise in Japan as electric arc furnace operators replenish their stocks and follow Tokyo Steel’s lead in hiking up product prices.

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This comes amid expectations of growing demand for reconstruction projects in the country’s northeast.

Earlier this week, Tokyo Steel, Japan’s largest H-beam producer, announced that it is hiking September prices for all products by ¥2,000-3,000 ($25-38) per tonne.

The move has already been copied by several other mini-mills such as Yamato Steel, which said it is raising its H-beam prices by ¥3,000 per tonne.

At the same time, Tokyo Steel hiked its scrap purchase prices twice in the past week.

With other mini-mills following suit as they return to operation after last week’s summer break, the national average price for H2 grade scrap, as measured by the Japan Ferrous Raw Materials Association, has risen to ¥26,363 per tonne from ¥25,154 per tonne in the previous week.

“There was a general feeling that scrap prices had fallen too much and needed to rise, especially given what has been happening in other regional markets, so the uptick in prices is not surprising,” one industry told Steel First.

“Also, product prices are being driven higher by expectations that demand is slowly improving mainly on reconstruction demand.”

But he also warned that reconstruction demand, while showing some signs of taking hold, will take time to fully materialise and that mills may be getting ahead of themselves.

“We are not going to see any immediate huge jump in demand,” he warned.

“Even so, the overall demand situation is a bit more positive, which should support prices.”

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