S KOREA STEEL SCRAP: Mills avoid expensive imports, focus on local scrap

Steelmakers in South Korea have focused on procuring steel scrap from their domestic market, along with some cut-price deals from Japan, over the past week, sources said on Friday November 20.

At least three South Korean mills purchased H2 scrap from Japan at ¥30,500 per tonne fob over the week - which is equivalent to around ¥32,500 per tonne cfr South Korea, according to market participants. The deals were the first for H2 heard to the country for several weeks.

Another steelmaker was heard to have bid for Japanese shredded scrap at ¥36,500 per tonne cfr, but was said to have been unable to gather a large amount of material at that price.

“The import scrap market is so pricey and the domestic market is relatively stable compared with buying scrap from other countries,” a South Korean mill source told Fastmarkets.

“There are some electric arc furnaces on long maintenance programs until December, so there is lots of scrap nobody is buying in Korea,” he said.

“We expect that South Korean mills will closely monitor the amount of imported scrap they are buying and consider the timing of their purchase carefully,” a Japanese trader said.

He added that the Korean domestic steel market was currently oversupplied, and said some manufacturers might look to cut sales prices should this continue.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel scrap H2, Japan origin, import, cfr main port South Korea was ¥32,500-33,500 per tonne on November 20, widening down ¥200 per tonne from ¥32,700-33,500 per tonne cfr last week.

Offers for H2 were heard at ¥33,500-34,500 per tonne cfr South Korea over the past week, sources said, largely stable week on week after last week’s surge in prices following the Kanto Tetsugen auction.

There was limited interest in Russian A3 scrap, with a bid heard at $329 per tonne cfr South Korea, but no deals were done, a Korean trader said.

South Korean demand for imported scrap remains low, with consumers currently unwilling to pay for deep-sea imports anywhere close to the levels of Vietnam, which is being boosted by a spate of steel billet sales to China and the Philippines.

While sources said that deep-sea scrap sellers would look for $350-360 per tonne cfr South Korea for HMS 1&2 (80:20), market participants said that Korean consumers would be unwilling to pay anything above $345 per tonne cfr.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel scrap, HMS 1&2 (80:20), deep-sea origin, import, cfr South Korea was $335-340 per tonne on Friday, up by $15-25 from $320 per tonne on November 13.

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