• Weekly Market Report

Commodity Market Developments

Ferrous: The World Steel Association reported last week that “World crude steel production for the 64 countries reporting to the World Steel Association (worldsteel) was 137.1 million tonnes (Mt) in April 2020, a 13.0% decrease compared to April 2019.

Due to the ongoing difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, many of this month’s figures are estimates that may be revised with next month’s production update…

China produced 85.0 Mt of crude steel in April 2020, an increase of 0.2% compared to April 2019. India produced 3.1 Mt of crude steel production in April 2020, down 65.2% on April 2019. Japan produced 6.6 Mt of crude steel in April 2020, down 23.5% on April 2019.”


Here in the U.S., the American Iron and Steel Institute reported that for “…the week ending on May 16, 2020, domestic raw steel production was 1,181,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 52.7 percent. Production was 1,880,000 net tons in the week ending May 16, 2019 while the capability utilization then was 80.8 percent. The current week production represents a 37.2 percent decrease from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending May 16, 2020 is down 1.9 percent from the previous week ending May 9, 2020 when production was 1,204,000 net tons and the rate of capability utilization was 53.7 percent.

Adjusted year-to-date production through May 16, 2020 was 32,040,000 net tons, at a capability utilization rate of 71.2 percent. That is down 13.6 percent from the 37,098,000 net tons during the same period last year, when the capability utilization rate was 81.4 percent.”

Fastmarkets AMM reported late last week that, “Hot-rolled coil prices in the United Stated moved lower on Friday May 22 due to last-minute discounts still being offered immediately after mills announced price hikes on Thursday May 21, market participants said, raising the question of how effective the new increases can be. Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index, fob mill US was calculated at $24.31 per hundredweight ($486.20 per short ton) on Friday, down by 2.5% from $24.93 per cwt on Thursday and down by 1.5% from $24.69 per cwt a week earlier on May 15.

FM Metal Bulletin reported last week that “Chinese copper smelters have been expanding blindly over the past decade, leading to extreme competition for overseas copper concentrate and placing the industry in a fragile position with regards to procurement, an Aluminum Corp of China (Chalco) official has said. Yu Dehui, general manager of Chalco, said he would formally raise his proposal for the government to rein in copper smelter expansion plans at the annual sittings of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, also known as the “twin sessions” which started on Friday May 22, Shanghai media ThePaper reported.”

“In 2019, China’s copper capacity reached 12.59 million tonnes per year, yet the utilization rate was only 77%, according to Yu. It is a three-fold increase from the country’s copper output level a decade ago, which stood at only 4.1 million tonnes in 2009, according to official data. Despite room to utilize existing capacity, the Chinese copper industry continued to build new smelting facilities. In 2021, refined copper capacity is set to reach 14.22 million tonnes in China, Yu estimates. China Copper, owned by Chalco, itself has undergone rapid expansion in the past few years to now holds the country’s biggest copper smelting capacity. China Copper’s smelting capacity is expected to hit 1.35 million tonnes in 2020, taking into account the new capacity of its Chifeng project scheduled to come online this year, and its Ningde project which commenced in late 2018.”

We hope you enjoyed our ISRI Virtual Copper Spotlight last week, and thanks so much for all who participated. The recording of last week’s event is now available.


Looking forward to this week, we have an outstanding ISRI Virtual Event: Spotlight on Aluminum scheduled for Wednesday, May 27, 2020 1:00 p.m. ET when moderator Stephen Moss from Stanton A. Moss Inc. will be joined by presenters Jason Schenker from Prestige Economics and John Woehlke from JW Metal Consulting for a discussion of the macroeconomic, trade and industry drivers that are reshaping the U.S. and global aluminum and aluminum scrap markets. Register here.

As for lead recycling market developments, Macquarie reports that “US lead-acid battery (LAB) recycler Exide has announced it is filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings for its North American assets, again, to facilitate their later sale, and will sell its European and Asian assets as part of a restructuring. This follows news that the German battery recycling operations of French-based Recyclex seeks bankruptcy protection, underscoring the pain in the lead-acid battery world as the slump in global autos output/usage has severely curtailed LAB demand.”

Recovered Paper and Fiber
Earlier this month, the AF&PA reported that in the United States, “the 2019 paper recycling rate was 66.2 percent – down from 68.0 percent in 2018 but slightly higher than the 65.9 percent rate in 2017. The decline was largely the result of a sharp drop in recovered paper exports (-13.6 percent) – mainly to China as the result of the country’s import restrictions…

The paper recycling rate measured 33.5 percent in 1990, which was the base year against which the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) began setting its recycling goals. Every year since 2009 the paper recycling rate has met or exceeded 63 percent.”

U.S. Paper and Paperboard Recycling and Recycling Rate

Looking forward, you won’t want to miss our upcoming ISRI Virtual Event: Spotlight on Paper hosted by PSI and ISRI on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 2:00 p.m. ET. This year’s Paper Spotlight will provide valuable insights for paper processors, MRF operators, and mills on how shifts in consumer habits will change our relationship with paper and packaging. Attendees will gain a strong understanding of both the short and longer term outlooks for the sector from Jose Gonzalez and Sanna Sosa of AFRY Management Consulting, a leading advisor to the world's energy, forest, and bio-based industries. This will include a deep dive into the effects we have already seen on selected pulp and paper sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on selected industry sectors.

You must register online to participate. There is no charge for ISRI members for this event. Once you register, you will receive an email with login instructions. Make sure to save the information in your calendar.

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