US steelmaking raw material imports rise in March vs Feb

US imports of steelmaking raw materials rose by 7.46% month on month in March, with higher ferrous scrap and pig iron volumes outweighing declines in shipments of direct-reduced iron (DRI), according to the latest data from the US Census Bureau

Raw material imports totaled 769,104 tonnes in March, compared with 715,698 tonnes in February and 1.03 million tonnes in January.

Pig iron imports rose month on month to 450,340 tonnes, up by 16.04% from 388,088 tonnes in February but still lower than the 637,278 tonnes that arrived in January. Similarly, ferrous scrap imports reached 233,523 tonnes in March, up by 13.76% from 205,269 tonnes in February but down slightly from 236,786 tonnes in January.

Ferrous scrap imports from Canada, the United States’ largest foreign supplier, rose by 49,083 tonnes (29.76%) to 217,168 tonnes in March from 167,365 tonnes in February. Scrap imports from other global suppliers dropped by 21,549 tonnes (56.85%) to hit 16,355 tonnes in March, down from 37,904 tonnes in February.

Imports of DRI fell by 30.33% month on month to 85,241 tonnes in March, compared with 122,341 tonnes in February and 156,632 tonnes in January.

US domestic scrap prices were broadly sideways on cut grades and shredded scrap but down as far as $35 per gross ton on prime grades in certain regions in February, when importers booked their tonnages for March.

Fastmarkets assessed pig iron basic grade, Ukraine/Russia, fob New Orleans at an average of $570-600 per tonne in February, up by 4.65% at the midpoint from $544-574 per tonne in January. That price was last assessed at $650-680 per tonne on March 7.

Fastmarkets’ assessment of this price has since been suspended due to the stoppage of material shipments from the Black Sea region due to the war in Ukraine.

Fastmarkets assessed the price pig iron basic grade, Brazil, fob New Orleans at an average price of $566.67-596.67 per tonne in February, up by 4.06% at the midpoint from $544-574 in January. The price was most recently assessed at $930-960 per tonne on Monday March 16. Demand for Brazilian material remains robust amid Russia and Ukraine’s absence from the market.

The US imported 2.52 million tonnes of raw steelmaking material during the first three months of 2022, down 5.77% from the corresponding period in 2021, when the US imported 2.67 million tonnes of raw material.

Pig iron imports rose by 18.43% to 1.48 million tonnes during the first three months of 2022 from 1.25 million tonnes in January-March 2021, while ferrous scrap imports fell 25.47% to 675,578 tonnes from 906,507 tonnes in the same comparison.

DRI imports fell 29.56% to 364,214 tonnes in the first three months of 2022 from 517,025 during the corresponding period in 2021.

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