Pig iron shortage from lost Ukraine-Russia volumes may be partly covered by other sources

A shortage in the global pig iron market caused by the absence of Ukraine, as well as Russia’s limited ability to sell, can only partially be covered by suppliers from other regions, sources told Fastmarkets on Tuesday March 22

Based on total exports from the biggest suppliers - Russia, Ukraine and Brazil, plus India and South Africa - Fastmarkets calculates that over the past five years Russian pig iron exporters met the needs of about 40% of the global market, while Ukraine’s share was around 25%.

In 2021, Russia exported 3.53 million tonnes of pig iron, while Ukraine supplied 3.16 million tonnes, according to estimates by Fastmarkets based on the latest available date from the International Steel Statistics Bureau (ISSB).

Since the beginning of Russia’s war on Ukraine on February 24, no activity has been heard from Ukrainian suppliers because almost all of the country’s pig-iron-making capacities have been suspended, and no shipments have been possible from Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea or the Sea of Azov.

Meanwhile, Russia has been trying to sell pig iron from its Black Sea outlets, bypassing the sanctions imposed by Western nations.

Only buyers in Italy and Turkey were heard to be dealing with Russia-origin pig iron on a spot basis. Buyers in other regions preferred not to deal with such material because of the possibility of further sanctions and risks to reputation.

The resulting acute shortage has pushed global pig iron prices dramatically upward.

The midpoint of Fastmarkets’ price assessment for pig iron, import, cfr Gulf of Mexico, US, soared to $1,015 per tonne on March 18, up by 57.36% from $645 per on February 25. The United States is the largest pig iron buyer globally.

“Brazil and India are really the only viable alternatives to pig iron supply from Russia and Ukraine,” one buyer from the US said.

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