Imports of steelmaking raw materials into the United States fell by 14.56% month on month in April, primarily due to reduced inflows of direct-reduced iron (DRI) over the period, according to the latest data from the US Census Bureau.
Raw materials imports totaled ۹۰۱,۸۲۵ tonnes in April, compared with 1.06 million tonnes in March and 851,028 tonnes in February.
US imports of ferrous scrap fell by 9.92% to 304,483 tonnes in April from 338,030 tonnes in March, after rising by 10.76% to that level from 305,193 tonnes in February. Ferrous scrap imports from the US’ largest supplier Canada dropped significantly by 28.59% to 153,722 tonnes from 215,275 in the same comparison.
Pig iron imports inched up by 2.91% month on month to 476,198 tonnes from 462,727 tonnes in March.
Some US mills have reportedly prioritized prime scrap substitutes such as pig iron in recent months amid high domestic ferrous scrap prices and tight supply.
The Chicago market settled up $70 per gross ton on No1 busheling in March, when tonnages imported in April were booked. Prime grades remain under pressure, with No1 busheling enjoying its first price increase since March during June’s ferrous trade; the assessment for that grade jumped by $60 to reach $610 per gross ton in Chicago this month.
But DRI imports dropped by more than half to 121,144 tonnes in April from 254,798 tonnes in March; DRI imports had spiked by 124.75% month on month in March to reach that level, from 113,368 tonnes in February.
Adverse weather conditions in the United States in February continued to affect scrap flows in March, accounting for depressed inflows of certain raw materials in April.
Nonetheless, total US raw material imports for the first four months of 2021 rose by 13.23% to 3.57 million tonnes from 3.15 million tonnes in the corresponding period of 2020.
Ferrous scrap imports climbed by 30.58% to 1.21 million tonnes from 927,394 tonnes in January-April 2020. US ferrous scrap imports from top supplier Canada rose by 22.15% year on year to 801,249 tonnes from 655,965 tonnes in the first four months of 2020.
US pig iron imports fell by 2.52% 1.72 million tonnes from 1.77 million tonnes in the same comparison. Conversely, DRI imports increased by 38.78% to 638,169 tonnes from 459,858 tonnes over the period.
Fastmarkets’ price assessment for pig iron basic grade, Ukraine/Russia, fob New Orleans ended March at $570-600 per tonne, up from $550-580 per tonne at the start of that month. That price was last assessed at $685-710 per tonne on Monday June 7.
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