Platts quoted figures from the Department of Commerce's International Trade Commission said China and Turkey were May's leading importers of US steel scrap as combined US exports of shredded and No 1 heavy melting scrap rose again in May climbing 23.9% to 1.413 million tonnes from 1.141 million tonnes in April.
The combined total was the highest of the year so far, exceeding the 1.141 million tonnes of HMS and shred exported in February. China alone is on an annualized pace to import about 5 million tonnes of scrap from the US this year, and has soaked up nearly 35% of all shredded and HMS scrap exported from the US from January to May. Turkey is on pace to import about 2.8 million tonnes of US scrap most of it shredded.
Overall, export volumes for both grades increased in May. Exports of shredded scrap rose 26.8% to 809,651 tonnes from 638,694 in April. May posted the second highest volume for the year after March's 825,043 tonnes. Heavy melting scrap No 1 exports rose 20.2% in May to 603,709 tonnes from 502,163 tonnes in April and May's was the highest total this year.
Strong demand from the Pacific Rim, which has been noted by US scrap players including Schnitzer Steel and Metalico helped drive volumes. China's imports of HMS No 1 jumped 37.9% to 93,448 tonnes in May while its imports of shredded scrap rose a more modest 5.1% to 212,372 tonnes though it was still the second leading importer of shred after Turkey.
Korea and Taiwan also increased import volumes. Korean imports of HMS No.1 soared 39.7% to 148,193 in May, second highest after Turkey, while Korean imports of shredded scrap more than tripled to 101,707 tonnes. Taiwan almost doubled its exports of both grades of material, to 94,630 tonnes of HMS No 1 and 84,244 tonnes of shredded scrap.
Turkey was the volume leader for both grades of scrap in May as imports of shredded scrap more than tripled to 228,848 tonnes. Turkish imports of HMS No. 1 rose a more modest 2.9% to 181,354 tonnes. China however is the YTD leader. Much of Turkey's scrap was purchased in April and early May following a strong March exports to China.