World crude steel production continued to increase in 2008. Based on historical data from World Steel Association, Iron and Steel Statistics Bureau (ISSB) forecasted that world crude steel production would reach 1.4 billion tonnes in 2008, an increase of 4% y-o-y. Out of 1.4 billion tonnes of crude steel production, 32% would come from the production via the EAF route. EAF production has expanded dramatically in the last 5 years, with an annual average growth of 6.4%, compared to annual average growth rates of 3.5% and 2.5% during the periods of 1997-2002 and 1991-1996, respectively.
Based on the above figures, ISSB estimated that world ferrous scrap requirement in 2008 would reach 380 million tonnes, out of which only 9% is supplied in house by the steelworks. This means that a total of 336 million tonnes of scrap would need to be traded domestically and internationally in 2008. Furthermore, ISSB forecasted that scrap consumption would reach 391 million tonnes in 2009 and 392 million tonnes in 2010.
According to scrap trade data reported by the World Steel Association, world scrap import rose by 10.4% to 57.5 million tonnes in the period of January-July 2008 (equivalent to an extrapolated full year import volume of 97 million tonnes). Turkey's import rose significantly by 28.5% to 8.2 million tonnes in the first seven months of 2008. Import in E.U. registered 15 million tonnes, an increase of 6% y-o-y. Import of scrap in ASEAN countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) was 5.1 million tonnes, an increase of 21.7% y-o-y during the first seven months of 2008. Import volume in most of the ASEAN countries surged substantially except for Malaysia. Thailand's import of scrap doubled in volume to 1.8 million tonnes. Indonesia's import rose by 60% to 1.08 million tonnes. Vietnam's import registered an increase of 71% to 0.6 million tonnes. However, Malaysia's import dropped significantly by 34% to 1.4 million tonnes.
World's scrap export registered 63.7 million tonnes for the period January to July 2008, up 16.4% y-o-y. (equivalent to an extrapolated full year export volume of 108 million tonnes in 2008). The world's major sources of scrap supply were Japan, E.U., Russia and USA. Scrap export from Japan fell by 9% to 3.7 million tonnes between January and July 2008. Export from E.U. increased by 11.8% to reach 22.9 million tonnes during the first seven months of 2008. Russia's scrap export decreased from 4.8 million tonnes in the first seven months in 2007 to 4.1 million tonnes in the same period of 2008. Export from USA, the largest source of scrap export, nearly doubled in volume to 13.6 million tonnes in the first seven months of 2008.
Following the steep increases in the prices of scrap, many steel makers have ventured into investing directly in the scrap processing industry. As a result, there has been a significant transfer of ownership of steel scrap processing plants and equipments to giant steel makers. Steel Dynamics Inc., for example, acquired more than a billion dollars worth of scrap processing assets. Arcelor Mittal also invested billions of dollars in acquiring scrap processing equipment. Another major steelmaker, Nucor, bought over the David J. Joseph Company, a major scrap processing and brokerage services provider in USA.
For ASEAN, scrap consumption has increased at an annual growth rate of 10% since 1998 to reach 16 million tonnes in 2007. Most of steel makers in the region are small producers. All the steelmakers are currently operating EAF facilities. The region still relies heavily on imported scrap. Net import rose significantly at an annual growth rate of 28% since 1998 to reach 6 million tonnes in 2007. Philippines is a major source of scrap supply in the region, but its export volume dropped dramatically by 28% in 2008. Although USA is another major source of scrap supply for the ASEAN steelmakers, there is no guarantee of consistent supply as many of the scrap processing plants in the US have been consolidated recently. ASEAN steelmakers would therefore need to explore other alternative sources of supply.