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World Steel Recycling in Figures: January-June 2021 update

Global crude steel production totalled 1.004 billion tonnes in the first half of 2021 - an increase of 14.4% over the same period in 2020, according to worldsteel. Asia and Oceania alone produced 737 million tonnes of crude steel in the opening six months of this year for an increase of 13.8% over January-June 2020.

Data in our corresponding table for the first half of 2021 show a year-on-year crude steel production increase in China of 11.8% to 563.330 million tonnes. There was also production growth in the EU-27 (+18.4% to 77.760 million tonnes), Japan (+13.8% to 48.057 million tonnes), the USA (+15.5% to 42.037 million tonnes), Russia (+6.8% to 38.709 million tonnes), the Republic of Korea (+8.3% to 35.196 million tonnes), Turkey (+20.6% to 19.705 million tonnes) and the UK (+6.5% to 3.720 million tonnes).

China’s steel scrap usage surges 47.1%

According to our statistics, China’s steel scrap consumption soared 47.1% to 137.95 million tonnes in the first six months of 2021; this compares to 93.75 million tonnes in the same period of 2020. This steep increase can be attributed partly to the weaker figures for the first half of 2020 as a result of COVID, while also reflecting the goal of higher steel scrap usage announced in China’s latest Five-Year Plan so as to reduce CO2 emissions in crude steel production. China has thus solidified its position as the world’s largest steel scrap user.

In the first six months of this year, steel scrap usage also increased in the EU-27 (+25% to 46.776 million tonnes), the USA (+14.9% to 23.2 million tonnes), Japan (+26.3% to 17.176 million tonnes), Turkey (+26% to 16.843 million tonnes), Russia (+12.2% to 16.287 million tonnes), the Republic of Korea (+9.5% to 14.338 million tonnes) and the UK (+3.2% to 1.368 million tonnes).

Turkey’s overseas steel scrap purchases climb 33.2%

The first six months of 2021 brought a 33.2% increase in Turkey’s overseas steel scrap purchases to 12.872 million tonnes, confirming the country yet again as the world’s foremost steel scrap importer. In the first half of this year, the USA increased its overseas purchases by 35.6% to 2.688 million tonnes and thus became the world’s second-largest steel scrap importer. India reduced its imports by 3% to 2.664 million tonnes and was thus relegated to third position.

According to our statistics for the first six months of this year, steel scrap imports were also higher into the EU-27 (+25.2% to 2.435 million tonnes), Mexico (+51.6% to 1.481 million tonnes), Thailand (+21.9% to 0.796 million tonnes), Malaysia (+12.9% to 0.777 million tonnes) and Russia (+80.1% to 0.426 million tonnes). Conversely, import declines were recorded by the Republic of Korea (-12.5% to 2.109 million tonnes), Taiwan (-16.5% to 1.620 million tonnes), Canada (-36.2% to 0.648 million tonnes) and Belarus (-11.6% to 0.632 million tonnes).

Figures for Pakistan, Bangladesh and Vietnam were not available ahead of our editorial deadline.

EU-27 increases steel scrap exports by 49.3%

The EU-27 remained the world’s leading steel scrap exporter in growing its outbound shipments by an enormous 49.3% to 11.241 million tonnes. Deliveries increased in the first half of 2021 to main buyer Turkey (+48.7% to 7.679 million tonnes), as well as to Egypt (+121.5% to 1.039 million tonnes), the USA (+67.1% to 0.416 million tonnes), Switzerland (+44.4% to 0.351 million tonnes), Pakistan (+10.7% to 0.331 million tonnes) and Morocco (+193.8% to 0.238 million tonnes).

The largest EU-27 steel scrap exporter was the Netherlands on 2.839 million tonnes (+59.9% compared to the previous year). EU-27 internal steel scrap exports totalled 15.194 million tonnes in the first half of 2021 for a year-on-year increase of 21.9%.

The first six months of the current year brought an increase in US steel scrap exports of 11.9% to 9.397 million tonnes; among the leading buyers to extend their purchases from the USA was main customer Mexico (+73.8% to 1.651 million tonnes), along with Malaysia (+11.1% to 1.001 million tonnes), Vietnam (+180.1% to 0.860 million tonnes) and Bangladesh (+2.8% to 0.622 million tonnes). In contrast, decreases in US scrap deliveries were recorded by Turkey (-18.2% to 1.595 million tonnes) and Taiwan (-13.4% to 0.736 million tonnes).

Also in this year’s January-June period, an increase was recorded in steel scrap exports from the UK (+31.7% to 4.139 million tonnes), including to biggest buyer Turkey (+42.7% to 1.421 million tonnes). Higher exports were also recorded by Canada (+12% to 2.267 million tonnes), Mexico (+9.6% to 0.367 million tonnes) and Singapore (+43% to 0.329 million tonnes) whereas declines in overseas shipments were registered by Japan (-14% to 4.202 million tonnes), Russia (-8% to 2.001 million tonnes) and South Africa (-84.1% to 0.039 million tonnes).

Last but not least, I would like to extend my special thanks to Daniela Entzian, the BIR Ferrous Division’s Deputy Statistics Advisor, for her excellent co-operation.