Stainless steel scrap has a promising future.

Industry insiders say the year 2022 began with lower order intakes for leading stainless steel flat producers in Europe.

FREMONT, CA: The stainless steel and superalloy scrap sector has had a mixed year so far in 2022, but recyclers are continuing to benefit from the global economic upturn as the pandemic fades. Despite this, industry insiders say the year began with lower order intakes for leading stainless steel flat producers in Europe, partly due to the pandemic's ongoing negative impact on the supply chain.

Furthermore, the production of stainless steel has increased significantly.

In BIR's current Mirror quarterly report, Joost van Kleef, commercial director of Oryx Stainless and chairman of the BIR stainless steel and special alloys committee, expresses this sentiment. Other negative aspects, according to Van Kleef, include an increase in stainless finished products imports for the fifth month in a row, finished goods prices in the Far East being considerably below European market levels, and finished goods stocks in Germany reaching new highs.

Sentiment has shifted since the beginning of the year, and future developments must be carefully scrutinized, he stated. Ferrous scrap prices have stabilized, but ferro-chrome values are likely to fall by the end of March due to wide differentials with other core markets like India and China. According to committee member Doug Kramer, president of Spectrum Alloys, rising prices and inflation hitting its highest level in 40 years have had a significant impact in the commodities market, with mixed consequences for US recyclers.

While nickel and stainless steel scrap prices have increased, boosting recycler profits, energy prices have also gone up, increasing the operating and transportation costs, he writes in the Mirror. Transport bottlenecks continue to stymie enterprises' ability to deliver material to domestic and international consumers on schedule. According to Census Bureau trade data, the value of US stainless steel scrap exports increased 24 percent in 2021 to over US 340 million dollars (EUR 300 million), but the volume of overseas stainless scrap shipments decreased 3 percent to 304 000 tonnes. Improved demand from markets such as India, Mexico, and Canada more than offset shipping challenges and reduced demand from Taiwan.