NEW YORK U.S. ferrous scrap exports plunged 23.5 percent in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2013 due to weaker demand from most major importing countries.
The latest data from the U.S. Commerce Department show that ferrous scrap exports fell to 7.58 million tonnes in the first six months of 2014 from more than 9.91 million tonnes a year earlier.
The decline was led by a 34.7-percent drop in shipments to Turkey, which took 1.78 million tonnes of U.S. ferrous scrap from January through June vs. nearly 2.73 million tonnes in the first half of 2013.
U.S. exporters saw declines in shipments to most major destinations, including China (down 59.7 percent to 393,985 tonnes), Egypt (down 38.5 percent to 349,801 tonnes), India (down 30.1 percent to 269,256 tonnes), Indonesia (down 43.5 percent to 192,411 tonnes), Malaysia (down 39.1 percent to 284,916 tonnes), South Korea (down 22.6 percent to 826,296 tonnes) and Taiwan (down 8 percent to 1.46 million tonnes).
Closer to home, exports to Canada fell 2.1 percent to 457,484 tonnes while Mexico was one of the few bright spots, with first-half shipments south of the Rio Grande jumping 45.9 percent to 389,071 tonnes.
Market participants said weak demand from traditional markets pushed more exports to mills in countries like Ecuador, Kuwait, Peru, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Stronger domestic market prices for shredded scrap allowed some exporters to send some volumes to U.S. mills, resulting in a larger decline of overall shredded scrap exports compared with heavy melting steel.
Shredded scrap exports dropped 24.5 percent to 2.23 million tonnes in the first half from more than 2.95 million tonnes a year earlier, while No. 1 heavy melt exports fell 21.2 percent to 2.59 million tonnes from 3.28 million tonnes in the same comparison.
Chinas retreat from U.S. ferrous scrap suppliers offered some startling figures: shipments of No. 1 heavy melt exports crashed 90.8 percent to just 19,776 tonnes in the first half of 2014 from 215,501 tonnes a year ago, while shredded scrap exports to China plummeted 77.7 percent to 53,144 tonnes from 237,837 tonnes in the same comparison.
Meanwhile, U.S. exports of plate and structural scrap dropped 39.4 percent to 373,980 tonnes in the first six months of 2014 from 617,469 tonnes in the same period last year.
U.S. ferrous scrap exports in June totaled 1.27 million tonnes, down 9.5 percent from 1.4 million tonnes in the same month last year due largely to a 77.8-percent drop in shipments to South Korea, which accounted for just 45,166 tonnes vs. 203,752 tonnes in June last year.