Ferrous scrap export tide shifts, netting a rich catch from new ports

Nov 13, 2006 | 02:59 PM | Michael Marley

Ferrous scrap exporters are a lot like freshwater fishermen. When the fish aren't biting in one part of the lake, they lift anchor, move the boats and toss the lines in elsewhere.

That they have found a richer catch in other waters was the message from the chief executives of two of the nation's largest scrap companies. These moves have been spurred by differing reasons. One was the decline of demand in key Asian markets. For the other, it was a combination of weaker domestic demand and overseas steelmakers clamoring for scrap.

John Carter, president and chief executive officer of Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc., the big Portland, Ore.,-based exporter, put it in simple terms when asked by one market analyst about the Chinese scrap market and lackluster sales there. "We found better places to sell our scrap," he said, enumerating that Schnitzer now ships to 18 different countries, not two.

Daniel W. Dienst, chairman and chief executive officer of Metal Management Inc., told many of the same analysts a few days earlier that declining prices and demand in the United States drove the Chicago-based scrap processor to shop more of its scrap offshore.

"(We) balanced the needs of our domestic ferrous consumers while selling record volumes of ferrous scrap into the most attractive global markets," he said.

The ferrous export market has been changing for a number of years, not only in the United States, one of the world's two big pools of ferrous scrap, but also in Europe, the other scrap-rich area.....

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