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  • BIR World Mirror on Stainless Steel & Special Alloys – Quarterly Report May 2024: Europe hit by strikes while Indian mills resume scrap import bookings

BIR World Mirror on Stainless Steel & Special Alloys – Quarterly Report May 2024: Europe hit by strikes while Indian mills resume scrap import bookings

  • 15 May 2024

Entête Stainless

A concise summary of the BIR World Mirror on Stainless Steel & Special Alloys – Quarterly Report May 2024. Full version with detailed market reports available in the Members Only section of the BIR website.

Mill demand for stainless steel scrap was robust in Europe during the first quarter of 2024 but availability has continued to be affected by ongoing weakness in industrial and manufacturing activity, it is reported in the latest World Mirror publication released by the BIR Stainless Steel & Special Alloys Committee. During the first two months of this year, the EU recorded an increase of more than 50% in net imports of stainless scrap from third countries when compared to the same period in 2023.

With European crude stainless production impacted by major strikes, scrap prices have not gained significant ground. This is despite efforts to secure increases by those holding material at a time when supply is scarce and when LME nickel is at higher levels.

According to figures published by worldstainless, European output of crude stainless steel declined more than 6% last year to 5.9 million tonnes despite the typical seasonal improvement in the fourth quarter. The global figure given by the association for 2023 showed a year-on-year increase of 4.6% to more than 58.4 million tonnes, of which China contributed approaching 36.7 million tonnes.

Chinese demand for stainless steel end products is varying from month to month, while exports of stainless steel coils increased approximately 10% year on year in the first quarter of 2024 to some 1.06 million tonnes. 

Also in the first quarter, Taiwanese mills’ demand for stainless steel scrap became even weaker as imports of hot coil returned to the sizeable 2023 average of approximately 75,000 tonnes per month. South Korea’s stainless scrap demand was stable in the first quarter but several furnaces have scheduled annual maintenance for the second quarter and so demand for scrap cargoes from overseas will be significantly reduced. Japanese stainless scrap demand for domestic consumption has gradually increased, leading to a drop in exports.

Mills in India are looking to rebuild their low raw material inventories and have started booking scrap cargoes again in recent weeks. Ferro-nickel has become subject to Bureau of Indian Standards certification, thus impacting imports; this is deemed likely to encourage stainless steel scrap imports for the time being.

Meanwhile, leading Indian producer Jindal Stainless has unveiled a strategic investment of US$ 650 million, including a joint venture to develop and operate a stainless steel melt shop in Indonesia with an annual production capacity of 1.2 million tonnes and a structured indirect acquisition deal to acquire a 54% equity stake in Chromeni Steels Private Limited which owns a 0.6 million-tonnes-per-annum cold rolling mill in Mundra.

Another major investment, this time of US$ 100 million, has been announced by UAE-based Green Metal Industries for the construction of a state-of-the-art plant in Kezad, Abu Dhabi, aimed at bolstering regional innovation, economic growth and employment opportunities. The facility will specialize in producing premium materials, including various alloy grades and stainless steel.

Demand for superalloy scrap remains strong, driven primarily by the aerospace sector’s efforts to address ongoing supply chain issues, while cobalt prices have been in decline owing to oversupply.

Transportation disruption is proving persistent owing to the Red Sea crisis and the rerouting of vessels around Africa, resulting in longer shipping times and higher costs. Insurance hikes for vessels passing through the Red Sea en route to the Suez Canal are put at 250%.

Read all international market reports

With contributions from its members, BIR publishes periodical commodity reports under the label "BIR World Mirror". These detailed reports exist for Non-Ferrous MetalsFerrousStainless Steel / AlloysPaperPlastics and Latin America and provide BIR members with up-to-date information on the respective commodity or market segment.

The report on Non-Ferrous Metals appears once every two months, whereas Ferrous, Stainless Steel, Paper and Plastics are published quarterly. Latin America is covered twice per year.