NEW YORK Commercial Metals Co. (CMC) has sent scrap suppliers servicing its mill in Seguin, Texas, a letter reinforcing specifications for machine shop turnings after issues emerged with contaminated supply.
The letter was a follow-up to one sent earlier this year because "we are seeing again heavy fines, grindings, saw cuttings and scale in our turnings," Lisa Leopold, CMC Steel Texas manager for raw materials, said in the April 18 letter to scrap suppliers.
The mill said it was aware that these particulates come from the industry already blended but advised caution when sending the material to its Seguin plant.
"Our scrap specification clearly states that we do not allow: mill scale, slag, grindings, fines, dirt or other nonferrous material to be included in any load of turnings," Leopold said.
All loads will continue to go through a heavy inspection process and suppliers are being requalified in their shipments to the mill, CMC said. Shipments of turnings that are blended could be subject to a downgrade and/or rejection, Leopold added.
Leopold had previously informed suppliers in a Jan. 17 letter of an issue with contaminated machine shop turnings at its melt shop, noting that contaminated turnings used in its melting process had created high levels of iron oxide in the melt shop. Samples of slag showed an iron oxide presence of 80 to 90 percent in the scrap, which created "upset conditions in our steelmaking process," Leopold said in the January advisory.
At the time, she sent suppliers detailed specifications for turnings and cast iron borings and said there would be a "heightened awareness and inspection process" for all turnings and borings delivered into the plant.
Irving, Texas-based CMC didnt respond to AMMs request for comment on why or how the issue was reoccurring.
One scrap supplier in Texas contacted by AMM blamed "bad operators" for the issue, while a market source said that it has been standard practice for dealers to "salt" turnings and shredded scrap.
"Historically, turnings are the grades you put oxidized fines in. Typically they take mill scale, grinding fluff or oxidized fines and it either goes into shred or turnings. It affects the melt shop yield. At least 70 percent of the turnings going in from dealers are being salted. Thats what they call it," he said.
CMC likely sent out the letters because "too much of it is happening at their plant," he speculated.
"Basically its fraud. And its illegal. It affects their total yield. Also, it goes up in the baghouse because normally it doesnt get melted. It increases usage of (the) baghouse, so it adds to their cost," the market source said. "If dealers are still doing it, theyre stupid. Theyre not making any money and are trying to expand margins by doing this. Its not atypical. Its been happening for the last 100 years. Everybody to some extent does it."
The supplier added that machine shop turnings "have slag or small amounts of turnings that the mills, for whatever reason, dont like."
A second market source agreed, saying that "a combination of small machine shops combine the turnings because its an expensive handling matter to them." Some machine shops dont separate them because they dont have a place to dispose of nonconforming elements, he said.
"Some folks mix them to get more weight. The key point in buying mixed turnings is to have a very good inspector to keep them separated when they arrive at the mill. These turnings can be used, but in smaller quantities. You have to keep in mind that mixed turnings and mill scale carry an even higher volume of oxygen, and that is where the problem becomes dangerous," he said, adding that too much mill scale and iron oxide heavy fines will carry a high volume of oxygen and can damage the hearth or slag line of the furnace. "A true melt shop guy, if he knows that there are turnings in the charge, should protect the furnace by adding additional lime to the melt."
A third market source said the contaminated material is mixed by the machine shop and is impossible to clean. "Landfills will not take it due to new recycling laws. That is a real problem," he said.
"The CMC supply base is massive and covers many states. Apparently, their mass mailing of the problem and instructions has failed; therefore, they should stop buying the (machine shop turnings) grade or take supplier by supplier and qualify them individually," a fourth market source said.
"For those scrapyards that learn that the (machine shop turnings) they are receiving from their suppliers has dust, they need to educate the producers. If contaminated (machine shop turnings) are intentionally shipped, then disqualify (this supplier)," he said. "This is CMCs issue: is it profitable to buy the ... grade or is it not?"