US steelmaking raw material imports spike month on month in May

Steelmaking raw material imports into the United States soared by 51.97% month on month in May, an increase of 258,047 tonnes, with that jump led by a recovery in pig iron import volumes

The increase fell just short of offsetting the 35.45% decline in import tonnages observed in April. In total, the US imported 754,539 tonnes of steelmaking raw materials in May, 496,492 tonnes in April and 769,104 tonnes in March.

Pig iron imports increased to 299,780 tonnes in May from 94,279 tonnes in April. Despite the more than 200% increase, pig iron volumes for May still lag behind the 450,340 tonnes imported in March.

Direct-reduced iron (DRI) imports fell by 22.60% to 125,369 tonnes in May from 161,983 tonnes in April.

Ferrous scrap import volumes grew by 37.11% month on month to 329,390 in May from 240,230 in April. Much of that growth came from shipments from Mexico (15,458 tonnes), Spain (25,480 tonnes) and the Netherlands (43,905 tonnes).

Imports from Canada, by far the largest source of US ferrous scrap imports, rose 9.49% to 243,952 tonnes in May from 222,180 tonnes in April.

In April, when importers booked their tonnages for May, the domestic ferrous scrap trade caught sellers off-guard, with early expectations for higher prices quickly fizzling. Mills entered the market that month up $75 per gross ton on prime scrap, sideways on shredded scrap and down $20 per gross ton on No1 heavy melt and plate and structural scrap.

Meanwhile, pig iron prices in the United States consolidated at higher levels in early April trading, with the market facing a severe shortage of material due to the Russia/Ukraine war.

During the first five months of 2022, the US imported 3.77 million tonnes of steelmaking raw materials, 19.34% less than the 4.67 million tonnes the country imported over the same period in 2021.

Pig iron volumes dropped to 1.87 million tonnes during that period, down by 478,178 tonnes (20.37%) compared with January-May 2021. Ferrous scrap import figures likewise declined to 1.25 million tonnes, 19.03% less than the 1.54 million tonnes the US imported during the first five months of 2021.

Direct-reduced iron imports fell similarly. Through the first five months of 2022, the US imported 651,566 tonnes of DRI, 16.90% less than the 784,067 tonnes the country imported over the same period last year.

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