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World Steel Recycling in Figures: January-September 2021 update

Global crude steel production totalled 1.461 billion tonnes in the first nine months of 2021 for an increase of 7.8% over the same period in 2020. According to worldsteel, Asia and Oceania alone produced 1.066 billion tonnes of crude steel in the first nine months of 2021 for a year-on-year increase of 5.4%.

Data in our corresponding table show a crude steel production increase in China of 2% to 805.885 million tonnes when compared to the first nine months of 2020. There was also production growth in the EU-27 (+19.8% to 114.841 million tonnes), the USA (+19.8% to 64.358 million tonnes), Japan (+17.9% to 72.133 million tonnes), Russia (+5.4% to 54.846 million tonnes), the Republic of Korea (+6.7% to 52.886 million tonnes), Turkey (+15% to 29.868 million tonnes) and the UK (+5.9% to 5.484 million tonnes).

China’s steel scrap usage surges 18%

According to our statistics, China’s steel scrap consumption soared 18% to 183.17 million tonnes in the first nine months of 2021; this compares to 155.2 million tonnes in the same period of 2020. This increase reflects in part the goal of higher steel scrap usage announced in China’s latest Five-Year Plan so as to reduce CO2 emissions from crude steel production. China has thus solidified its position as the world’s largest steel scrap user.

In the opening three quarters of 2021, steel scrap usage also increased in the EU-27 (+21.1% to 66.381 million tonnes), the USA (+17.4% to 38.2 million tonnes), Japan (+21.8% to 25.767 million tonnes), Turkey (+19.1% to 25.574 million tonnes), the Republic of Korea (+11.5% to 21.247 million tonnes), Russia (+9.9% to 21.217 million tonnes) and the UK (+1.7% to 2.011 million tonnes).

Turkey’s overseas steel scrap purchases climb 16.6%

The first nine months of 2021 brought a 16.6% increase in Turkey’s overseas steel scrap purchases to 18.818 million tonnes, confirming the country once again as the world’s foremost steel scrap importer. The EU-27 substantially increased its overseas purchases (+39% to 4.136 million tonnes) to become the world’s second-largest steel scrap importer, while the USA took third place on the list of biggest importers (+32.7% to 4.039 million tonnes).

Also in last year’s January-September period, steel scrap imports were higher in India (+1.3% to 3.837 million tonnes), the Republic of Korea (+6.2 to 3.534 million tonnes), Mexico (+73.5% to 2.380 million tonnes), Thailand (+21.7% to 1.233 million tonnes), Malaysia (+8.9% to 1.160 million tonnes), Indonesia (+6.1% to 1.044 million tonnes) and Russia (+119% to 0.657 million tonnes). Conversely, import declines were recorded by Pakistan (-10.6% to 2.920 million tonnes), Taiwan (-20.2% to 2.338 million tonnes), Belarus (-5.8% to 0.952 million tonnes) and Canada (-21.8% to 0.650 million tonnes).

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

EU-27 increases steel scrap exports by 20.8%

The EU-27 remained the world’s leading steel scrap exporter in growing its outbound shipments by 20.8% to 14.604 million tonnes in the first nine months of 2021. The EU-27 increased its exports to leading buyer Turkey (+16.5% to 9.762 million tonnes) as well as to Egypt (+112.4% to 1.440 million tonnes), the USA (+31% to 0.490 million tonnes) and Switzerland (+44.5% to 0.471 million tonnes). However, deliveries declined to Pakistan (-17.4% to 0.493 million tonnes) and India (-27.3% to 0.349 million tonnes). EU-27 internal steel scrap exports totalled 22.549 million tonnes in the first nine months of 2021 for a year-on-year increase of 21.3%.

The first three quarters of 2021 brought an increase in US steel scrap exports of 10.8% to 13.955 million tonnes; among the leading buyers to extend their purchases from the USA were leading customers Mexico (+98.2% to 2.608 million tonnes), Bangladesh (+11.6% to 1.122 million tonnes) and Vietnam (+77.2% to 1.093 million tonnes). In contrast, decreases in US scrap deliveries were recorded by Turkey (-18.4% to 2.588 million tonnes) and Taiwan (-17.7% to 1.058 million tonnes).

Also in January-September 2021, an increase was recorded in steel scrap exports from the UK (+25.7% to 6.175 million tonnes), including to biggest buyer Turkey (+7.6% to 1.859 million tonnes). Higher exports were also recorded by Canada (+16.4% to 3.647 million tonnes), Mexico (+2.1% to 0.535 million tonnes) and Singapore (+40.1% to 0.507 million tonnes) whereas declines in overseas shipments were registered by Japan (-17.1% to 5.812 million tonnes), Russia (-6.5% to 3.100 million tonnes) and South Africa (-65.3% to 0.104 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.