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World Steel Recycling in Figures: January-March 2023 update

In the first quarter of 2023, global crude steel production totalled 459.3 million tonnes for a slight decline of 0.1% over the same period in 2022, according to worldsteel. Data show a decrease in crude steel production in all regions of the world, except for Asia which remained the largest producer with a 3.4% year-on-year increase to 344.2 million tonnes.

From the regional perspective, the lowest crude steel production in the first quarter of 2023 was recorded by Oceania with a dip of 5% to 1.4 million tonnes. Elsewhere, the totals were as follows: EU-27 (-10.1% to 33.1 million tonnes), Other Europe (-18.3% to 9.5 million tonnes), CIS (-11.8% to 21.4 million tonnes), North America (-4.1% to 26.8 million tonnes), South America (-4.5% to 10.3 million tonnes), Africa (-2.6% to 3.7 million tonnes) and the Middle East (-11.4% to 8.9 million tonnes).

China’s recycled steel usage up by 0.2%

According to our statistics, China’s recycled steel consumption was 0.2% higher in the first quarter of this year at 57.46 million tonnes, although there was a significantly steeper year-on-year increase in the country’s crude steel production (+6.1% to 261.6 million tonnes). With its share of global crude steel production at over 70% in the first three months of 2023, China remained the world’s largest recycled steel user.

Lower percentage declines in recycled steel usage when compared to crude steel production were registered by the EU-27 (-8.3% to 39.739 million tonnes versus -10.1% to 33.08 million tonnes), the USA (-2.7% to 11 million tonnes versus -4% to 19.402 million tonnes) and Japan (-5.2% to 7.827 million tonnes versus -6% to 21.622 million tonnes). Conversely, a steeper percentage decline in recycled steel usage when compared to crude steel production was recorded by the Republic of Korea (-7.7% to 6.375 million tonnes versus -1.5% to 16.67 million tonnes).

Turkey’s overseas recycled steel purchases down 24.4%

The first quarter of 2023 brought a 24.4% decrease in Turkey’s overseas recycled steel purchases to 4.929 million tonnes; however, the country remained the world’s foremost recycled steel importer. India was the world’s second-largest recycled steel importer in the first three months of 2023 (+156.6% to 3.282 million tonnes) while the USA was in third place with an increase of 22.3% to 1.303 million tonnes.

In the first quarter of 2023, recycled steel imports increased into Mexico (+9.4% to 0.823 million tonnes), Taiwan (+12% to 0.793 million tonnes) and Canada (+23.8% to 0.213 million tonnes). By contrast, import declines were posted in the first three months of 2023 by the Republic of Korea (-218% to 1.093 million tonnes), the EU-27 (-5.3% to 1.048 million tonnes) and Indonesia (-123.8% to 0.250 million tonnes).

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

EU-27 maintains position as top recycled steel exporter 

The EU-27 maintained its position as the world’s leading recycled steel exporter in the first quarter of 2023 with a 9.2% increase in shipped volumes to 4.885 million tonnes. There were also higher recycled steel shipments out of the USA in the first three months of 2023 (+1.1% to 4.114 million tonnes), thus reinforcing the country’s position as the world’s second-largest recycled steel exporter.

Export increases were also registered in the same period by the UK (+1% to 1.995 million tonnes), Japan (+17.2% to 1.676 million tonnes), Canada (+9.7% to 1.250 million tonnes), Mexico (+2.9% to 1.091 million tonnes), Australia (+14.7% to 0.414 million tonnes) and Singapore (+17.9 % to 0.178 million tonnes). Meanwhile, South Africa posted a sharp export decline of 41.3% to 0.083 million tonnes.

Increase in export prices

US and EU export prices followed a largely parallel course in the period under review. From November 2022 to March 2023, prices for HMS 1 in the USA and 80/20 in the EU increased to US$ 428 and US$ 445 per tonne, respectively.