BIR publishes updated global ferrous statistics

"World Steel Recycling in Figures" presented during the organization's World Recycling Convention.

July 6, 2014
Recycling Today Staff
Rolf Willeke, Statistics Advisor of the BIR Ferrous Division

The Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), Brussels, has published the fifth edition of its publication "World Steel Recycling in Figures." The announcement was made during the BIR’s Ferrous Division meeting during the association’s World Recycling Convention & Exhibition, held June 1-4, 2014, in Miami. The compilation of statistics on the global ferrous scrap markets was first published in 2010.

Upon the book’s presentation to delegates of the BIR meeting, Divisional President Christian Rubach said the resource provides updated information about world use and trade in steel scrap and that the Ferrous Division will strive to continue publishing these statistics on a yearly and a quarterly basis.

Rolf Willeke, statistics advisor of the BIR Ferrous Division, summarized the main news and findings contained in the report, which covers the five-year period from 2009 to 2013. Main findings include:

  • The new report contains a total of 45 graphs and tables, seven more than the previous edition.
  • World crude steel production increased 3 percent last year to 1.61 billion metric tons, according to the World Steel Association. Owing to the stronger increase in BOF (basic oxygen furnace) production in 2013, the BOF steel share of total world steel production climbed to nearly 71 percent.
  • According to the BIR's 2013 figures, steel scrap consumption declined in the EU-27 (down 4.6 percent), Turkey (down 6 percent) and Russia (down 3.5 percent) but climbed in China (up 2 percent), Japan (up 3.2 percent) and the Republic of Korea (up 0.3 percent). Also noticeable was the unchanged steel scrap usage in the U.S. Last year, crude steel output increased in regions/countries with a high percentage of EAF (electric arc furnace) production, such as the Middle East and Africa, as well as some Asian countries like India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.
  • The BIR also calculated a steel scrap usage increase in world steel production to around 580 million metric tons last year (up 1.8 percent from 2012).
  • Taking into account last year's 3 percent increase in world crude steel output, the proportion of steel scrap used in crude steel production fell slightly.
  • In 2013 China used more domestically supplied steel scrap and reduced its imports, and the USA used more direct reduced iron as a substitute for steel scrap.
  • Global annual ferrous scrap use in iron and steel foundries has amounted to between 56 million and 76 million metric tons in recent years.
  • Global external steel scrap trade amounted to 99 million metric tons last year (down 9.5 percent from 2012), of which around 30 percent was attributable to inter-EU trade.
  • Most leading steel scrap importers cut their overseas purchases in 2013, including Turkey, which remained the world's foremost steel scrap importer.

The report also contains seven flow charts covering steel scrap exports from the USA, the EU-27, Japan, Canada, Russia, Australia and South Africa. Global steel scrap export trade showed a clear downtrend last year when compared to 2012. Despite a drop in exports of around 13.6 percent, the USA remained the world's leading exporter of steel scrap at 18.5 million metric tons. While most regions experienced export decreases, steel scrap exports from Canada increased around 6.4 percent to 4.5 million metric tons, according to the report.

“Our figures show that ferrous scrap is used as a raw material by steelworks and iron and steel foundries around the globe and is an ecologically and beneficial raw material and an international commodity subject to global commodity prices," observed Willeke. "I think this underlines the need for a free world raw materials market."

Rubach expressed that the publication and its statistics will be useful as the industry works to overcome trade barriers or restrictions. "We need it also as an argument toward the political institutions and the federations which work for metal industries and foundries," Rubach said.