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Forces combine to push stainless scrap values lower

Global – Stainless steel scrap traders have been confronted with falling prices owing to a combination of weakening steel scrap values, a return to fourth quarter 2016 price levels for ferro-chrome and falling nickel quotations.

Compared to late April, 304 scrap prices have declined from US$ 1180-1230 to US$ 1060-1110 per tonne while 316 values have retreated from US$ 1530-1580 to US$ 1460-1510. During the same period, 409 chrome scrap prices have slid from US$ 300-340 per tonne to US$ 270-310 while the 430 quality has witnessed a decline from US$ 400-440 to US$ 360-400.

Indonesia has begun to ship out low-grade nickel ore and there are concerns the country could approve more quotas for exports. China’s stainless steel industry is facing falling prices and weak demand, such that production cuts by mills are expected. Meanwhile, high inventory levels and abundant supply amid subdued demand have maintained downward pressure on the nickel price.

According to the International Nickel Study Group, global primary production of the metal increased from 1.976 million tonnes in 2015 to 1.989 million tonnes last year, and is expected to reach 2.027 million tonnes in 2017. Having totalled 1.882 million tonnes in 2015 and 2.027 million tonnes in 2016, usage this year is projected to be around 2.111 million tonnes.

The full version of Recycling International’s latest Nickel & Stainless report will appear in its 4/2017 issue.

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