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Snapshot: steel production 2021

The share of steel produced globally from electric furnaces grew significantly in 2021 according to data from the World Steel Association (worldsteel) and reported to the Bureau of International Recycling convention in Barcelona.

Attendees also heard that steel scrap consignments into Turkey, the world’s biggest importer, jumped 11.4% year-on-year. The collected data came from Rolf Willeke, BIR’s ferrous statistics advisor, who presented the organisation’s 13th edition of World Recycling in Figures.

Willeke noted that, according to worldsteel, global oxygen furnace production was almost unchanged last year on 1.381 billion tonnes whereas global electric furnace production was higher by 14.4% on 563 million tonnes. There were also increases in global electric furnace iron production (+ 1.2% to 1.346 billion tonnes) and in DRI (sponge) production (+9.9% to 114.5 million tonnes).

BIR’s ferrous statistics advisor Rolf Willeke.

Annual global ferrous scrap use in the world’s iron and steel foundries has been between 67 and 74.4 million tonnes in recent years, he noted. 

Steel scrap imports

Last year saw an 11.4% year-on-year increase in Turkey’s overseas steel scrap purchases to 24.992 million tonnes. The data for 2021 confirms Turkey’s position as the world’s foremost steel scrap importer. The country’s main supplier remains the USA (-13.7% to 3.768 million tonnes).

The EU took over as the world’s second-largest steel scrap importer (+31.1% to 5.367 million tonnes). The main supplier was the UK (+26.8% to 1.633 million tonnes), these numbers largely accounted for by the UK leaving the EU so its total are excluded.

The world’s third-largest steel scrap importer was the USA (+17.1% to 5.262 million tonnes) and its main supplier was Canada (+18.2% to 3.757 million tonnes). Also higher in 2021 were steel scrap imports into South Korea (+8.9% to 4.789 million tonnes), Thailand (+18% to 1.653 million tonnes), Malaysia (+9.8% to 1.533 million tonnes) and Indonesia (+3% to 1.462 million tonnes).

Conversely, steel scrap import declines were recorded by India (-4.6% to 5.133 million tonnes). Pakistan (-8.4% to 4.156 million tonnes), Belarus (-14.7% to 1.136 million tonnes and Canada (-21% to 0.815 million tonnes)

Steel scrap exports

The EU was the world’s leading steel scrap exporter last year, growing its outbound shipments by 11.5% to 19.460 million tonnes, the main buyer being Turkey on 13.110 million tonnes (+11.3% year on year). Last year also saw an increase in US overseas steel scrap shipments of 6.1% to 17.906 million tonnes; among the leading buyers to extend their purchases from the USA was Mexico (+51.4% to 3.142 million tonnes).

There were higher steel scrap exports from the UK (+21.4% to 8.287 million tonnes), Canada (+7.8% to 4.863 million tonnes), Australia (+6.9% to 2.224 million tonnes) and Singapore (+35.4% to 0.685 million tonnes) whereas declines in overseas shipments were registered by Japan (-22.1% to 7.301 million tonnes) and Russia (-12.4% to 4.140 million tonnes).

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