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European ferrous market under pressure

Europe – With demand 25% below its 2007 level and in light of the current 25-30% overcapacity in this sector, the general outlook for the EU steel industry remains worrying, major European recycling organisations lamented at the latest general assembly of the European Ferrous Recovery and Recycling Federation (EFR).

Compared to the same period in 2011, EU crude steel production was 4.5% lower in the first six months of 2012 at 88.986 million tonnes whereas steel scrap use by EU steel mills suffered a smaller decline of 3.4% to 51.39 million tonnes. As a result, steel scrap usage in crude steel increased to around 57%, the federation noted.

At the same time, delegates to the EFR meeting recognised that the closure of some steelworks, mergers and environmental issues represent ‘€˜a serious threat to the steel sector’€™. According to the federation, these developments led to a significant decrease in order volumes for the EU scrap collection and processing sector. ‘€˜In consequence, scrap prices dropped, thereby discouraging scrap collection and processing because of little, or sometimes even no margins at all,’€™ it states.

Additionally, scrap operators witnessed a ‘€˜considerable reduction of scrap availability’€™. The EFR reasons: ‘€˜A lower demand in manufactured steel products resulted in less production scrap, and in parallel EU citizens tend to keep steel products longer and consequently less obsolete steel material becomes available.’€™

To make matters worse, surging rebar volumes are currently flooding the Turkish market at prices well below domestic production costs. EFR’€™s President Tom Bird warns: ‘€˜Now Turkey, the main scrap purchaser, is being squeezed out of its traditional market, the EU markets for steel and steel scrap will undoubtedly be affected.’€™

For more information, visit: www.efr2.org

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