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‘Demand for scrap remains solid in all markets’

Greg Schnitzer, president of BIR’s ferrous division, expects markets to open and close as waves of COVID-19 disrupt business for weeks or months to come.

‘Stay at home and shelter in place have become the new norms worldwide but we’re helping to make it work. Why? Because the recycling industry is essential, you are essential, we are all essential,’ he says in the BIR’s latest quarterly report for the ferrous division.

Schnitzer notes that prices declined immediately across secondary materials. ‘Yet pricing has now bounced up from the bottom and seems to have settled for a short period. I think it’s safe to say we’ll see pricing fluctuate as usual but be fairly range-bound to what we’ve seen in the last few months.’

His conclusion is that BIR needs the support of its members. ‘Activities behind the scenes fighting for our industry to be recognised as “essential” have been a priority. BIR act in a united way for our industry worldwide. The need for your support has never been more important so please make sure you are current with your membership dues.’

He acknowledges the future is uncertain but the vital place of recycling industries has been established. ‘Demand for scrap remains solid in all markets, a true testament to our necessity. Once normalcy is restored, there’s no place to go but up.’

Steel production data

Rolf Willeke, the division’s statistics advisor, reports that global crude steel production totalled 1.870 billion tonnes in 2019, up 3.4% from the previous year. Even so, worldsteel data shows that the only regions to experience growth were Asia and the Middle East.

Willeke says steel scrap consumption in China soared 15% last year to 215.93 million tonnes. This compares to 187.77 million tonnes in 2018 and underlines China’s position as the largest steel scrap user. The proportion of steel scrap used in the country’s steel production climbed to 21.7%.

Although Turkey remains the world’s foremost steel scrap importer, there was an 8.7% year-on-year decline in its overseas steel scrap purchases in 2019 to 18.857 million tonnes. The main factors are said to be additional US import tariffs on Turkish steel and sluggish long steel demand in both the domestic and export markets.

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