Raw Material Suppliers at IREPAS: Scrap market is becoming wider

Tuesday, 09 April 2019 13:47:28 (GMT+3)   |   Istanbul

At the SteelOrbis 2019 Spring Conference & 80th IREPAS Meeting held in Barcelona on April 7-9, Jens Björkman from Stena Metal International, the chairman of the raw material suppliers committee, said that, since the previous IREPAS meeting held in September 2018 in Istanbul, two major events have impacted the raw materials market. The first of these events was the significant reduction in production by Turkish steel producers - the leading buyers of scrap in the world - and the corresponding reduction in their demand for scrap. Turkish mills’ scrap demand has stabilized somewhat since then but it still remains at low levels, a fact which scrap suppliers will have to get used to. Mr. Brjörkman said that most of the raw materials committee members believe that they will continue to see reductions in Turkish demand for scrap due to poor domestic market conditions in Turkey.

According to the committee chairman, the second major event that influenced the raw materials market was the iron ore waste dam collapse in Brazil, which has had a strong influence on iron ore prices. He added that iron ore prices increased by 20 percent within a short time and that prices have continued to move upwards. Mr. Björkman also touched upon some other factors affecting the raw materials market, namely, the low water levels on the Rhine which had made logistics extremely difficult and costly, leading to a slowdown in the accumulation of scrap at ports for export. He stated that the slowing down of the EU automotive sector in the last six months led to the lower availability of prime scrap for export.

The committee chairman said that there has been some buildup of scrap demand in areas such as Southeast Asia, South America and North Africa, which is balancing the reduced demand from Turkey though not significantly. He said that the scrap market is becoming a little wider.

Answering a question about the influence of the Section 232 tariffs on US scrap exports, Mr. Björkman said that in the past few months there have been some reductions in US scrap exports, partly because of lower import needs from Turkey and partly due to stronger demand in the US domestic market, adding that US domestic scrap demand is driving down the availability of scrap for exports.

Regarding steel production in the EU, he pointed out that it has declined somewhat in the first few months of the current year, while both demand for scrap in the EU and intra-EU trade have been active and strong.

Commenting on the financing of the scrap trade, Mr. Björkman said that, right after the currency crisis in Turkey, availability of letters of credit was tight in the country and financing costs for Turkish mills increased substantially, with the currency fluctuations making these issues much more challenging.

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