Ferrous scrap prices may be seeing increasing support from demand in China to decarbonize, improve air emissions, and restrict steel output growth, as tight supplies of coking coal, met coke and energy continue.
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China import HRS101 scrap prices remain robust, at $598/mt CFR on Oct. 1, up from September's average of $576.19/mt CFR, according to S&P Global Platts assessments.
After declines last month in shredded prices in Europe, and steadier HMS scrap levels into Turkey, scrap eligible for export to China may command higher prices. This could keep scrap markets strong, relative to 62%-Fe benchmark iron ore fines, which has fallen further, down 25% over September from August.
The China import HRS101 scrap-to-iron ore price ratio rose to 5.11:1 on Oct. 1, from 4.99:1 at the end of September, and last month's average of 4.89:1, according to Platts assessments.
China import 62% Fe iron ore prices remain relatively close to recent lows after more than halving since July, while coking coal import prices in China hit new records last month.
These were among the continuing trends this week in S&P Global Platts' new low-carbon metals spreads and ratios – a suite of eight price references launched Aug. 13 that allow users to compare low-carbon feedstocks with traditional higher-carbon inputs.
The new spreads and ratios – underpinned by existing Platts assessments in hot-rolled steel, pig iron, scrap, iron ore and aluminum from the US, China, Turkey and the Black Sea region – were launched in response to market participants' requests for tools to help quantify costs, manage risk, and support opportunities associated with the expansion of carbon-reduction strategies and increasing regulation.
Steel operating restrictions, and higher coking coal prices have pushed down demand, while China's policies increased the attractiveness of low-emissions scrap, import pig iron and hot-briquetted iron.
China's domestic delivered HMS scrap prices also remain strong, just above August, even as iron ore prices fell.
China's call on scrap and metallics for steelmaking over and above pig iron production may have expanded in the first eight months of 2021 by around 26.5% over the same period of 2020, according to calculations by Platts using World Steel Association data.
Black Sea pig iron export prices to Turkey HMS scrap nudged lower to a 1.11:1 ratio on Oct. 1, from 1.13:1 a week earlier.
Atlantic pig iron demand and bookings have recently been dominated by China, which may be able to prepare material to boost end-year and early 2021 production, based on sailing times from Russia, Ukraine and Brazil.
Pig iron's carbon emissions via the blast furnace route are typically around 2.5 mt CO2 per mt of hot metal on a Scope 1, 2, basis adjusted for yield, including iron ore sintering and met coke emissions.
Utilizing higher grades of recycled steel scrap in larger quantities, as mills trial adding scrap and HBI to the blast furnace, may help steelmakers and users cut product emissions and spare valuable fuel and energy.
China is on track to reduce crude steel output this year below 2020's level, the first annual decrease since 2016, according to Platts Analytics. China's crude steel output is likely to drop further in September and remain lower in October, steel producers face wider output curbs since early September due to energy consumption controls.