The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) Commodities Roundtable conference began today in in Chicago.
ISRI Chief Economist and Director of Commodities Joseph Pickard said the stainless steel industry became too reliant on Chinese demand in the last decade and a half.
“It’s a cyclical industry and Chinese demand has cooled,” Pickard said. “China is facing a series of daunting challenges, re-engineering their economy to a market-based one, quelling labor unrest and dealing with an aging population.”
China accounted for half of the world’s stainless production last year, Pickard said, and Chinese production of stainless was just 731,000 metric tons in 2001. Today, it’s 50% of the entire world. London Metal Exchange nickel prices are down around 33% on the year-to-date. According to Maquarie, Chinese production cuts are continuing and European production fell 5% year-on-year.
Pickard was recenty selected to represent the US scrap industry in the Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Building Materials, Construction, and Non-ferrous Metals for the Dept. of Commerce and US Trade Representative.