Kallanish Kallanish

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September, 26th 2017

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JUL 25
11:07

China becomes net scrap exporter in June

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China’s ferrous scrap exports have continued to increase and in June the country technically became a net scrap exporter for the first time, customs data show. A closer look at the data reveals two conflicting trends however, Kallanish notes.

China exported almost 202,000 tonnes of ferrous scrap metal in June, compared to imports of only 185,000t, leaving the country a net exporter of around 16,000t of scrap, according to Chinese customs data. It remains uncertain as to what extent this is a long-term trend however, and a breakdown of the data reveals some interesting divergences.

When China’s export volumes began to increase, most scrap being shipped was lighter scrap which was favoured by induction furnaces but less easy to use in EAFs. The volume of this kind of scrap has continued to increase but the share has fallen to 32% in June. Destinations are dominated by countries with induction furnaces with Indonesia, India and Vietnam making up more than 75% of this kind of scrap export.

37.8% of exports of heavier scrap are going to Taiwan. Feng Hsin is known to have booked some test cargos to trial in its EAFs for example. Less than 10% of total scrap exports are going to Japan and South Korea, despite some mills there having booked test cargos.

Going forward, China is likely to consume more of the heavier scrap as its EAF capacity increases. The pace of this increase is being hampered by a sudden shortage in the supply of carbon electrodes but exports are also limited by the hefty 40% export tax on scrap. The lighter kinds of scrap however may have lost their value in the Chinese market on a more sustained basis with the elimination of almost all induction furnace capacity. These are the exports that are more likely to be sustained in the medium term.