Steelmakers and scrap recyclers in the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent have long had trading connections with each other—a situation unlikely to change in the foreseeable future, according to presenters at the ferrous session of the 2016 Recycling Confex Middle East, which took place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), in early December.
Adel Al Attar, a strategic procurement manager with Abu Dhabi, UAE-based Emirates Steel, said his company and other steelmakers in the oil and natural gas-rich Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region have for several decades relied on direct-reduced iron (DRI) instead of scrap to produce electric arc furnace (EAF) steel.
“DRI was very cost-competitive with scrap a few years back; that is not the case anymore,” said Al Attar. “Scrap has become more available” at a better price, he commented, and it also “reduces electricity usage” in the production process. Nonetheless, he said making the switch from DRI to scrap for steelmakers like Emirates has sometimes been “easier said than done.”
The UAE may generate as much of 3 million tonnes of ferrous scrap each year, said Al Attar, with the greatest percentage being obsolete grades. Emirates Steel, he said, “is in the early stages of tapping into this market.” Many scrap recyclers are geared toward the export market, with the UAE shipping anywhere from 900,000 to million tons to India each year, according to Al Attar.
He said Emirates Steel has invested to make changes to its EAFs, which were built for DRI consumption, so they can melt up to 40% ferrous scrap as charge. “In 2016 scrap has become more appealing to Emirates Steel,” said Al Attar, he expressed a desire for UAE scrap to “stay in the UAE.”
Sathya Bodha of India-based Mittal Corp. Ltd. says India in 2016 has surpassed the United States to become the world’s third largest steelmaker, and it may be poised to soon pass Japan for the No. 2 position. (China is well ahead in the No. 1 slot.)
He said the nation has the potential to produce even more steel but there are “surging imports of finished steel” heading into the country. No matter its steel output level, Bodha said India is likely to be a net importer of ferrous scrap “for several years” since its rate of scrap generation and collection remains insufficient.
Bodha’s colleague Rajesh Barla said Mittal Corp. has been emphasizing its stainless steel product line in 2016, including stainless steel reinforcing bar (rebar) that he said can prolong the life of concrete and structures by up to five times.
He said of a bridge or a parking garage built with stainless rebar, “you can build it and forget it" in terms of the amount of maintenance or the expected life span of such structures. He said the product is desirable in subtropical and tropical climates since it is “highly resistant to corrosion [and] prevents premature deterioration of concrete infrastructure.”
The 2016 Recycling Confex Middle East was 5-6 December at the Hyatt Regency Dubai, United Arab Emirates.