Russia and Ukraine have been critical pig iron suppliers to the US for years, comprising more than 60pc of the imports coming in since 2018. The US sources from several key producers in the Black Sea, many of whom account for a significant share of the US's low-phosphorus higher-priced pig iron. The region contains coastal borders of both Ukraine and Russia.
The potential conflict between Russia and Ukraine could force US pig iron consumers to lean on other global pig iron suppliers like Brazil, which made up 20pc of US pig iron imports since 2018. Brazilian pig iron is typically higher in phosphorous, making it less desirable to steelmakers in general.
Ukraine is a major steel and iron ore producer. In 2021 and 2020 it made 21.4 million mt and 20.6 million mt respectively of crude steel and was the 13th largest steel producer among 64 worldsteel-member countries. Normally, 80% of its steel output is exported. Over the same period, Ukraine exported 44.4 million mt (2021) and 46.2 million mt (2020) of iron ore products, making it the fifth largest iron ore exporter in the world.
The majority of sources surveyed did not believe in a worst-case scenario, but admitted that if this did occur, the impact would be felt across Ukraine's entire steel industry.
"It all depends on the scenario, but the majority of [steelmaking and steel raw material mining] enterprises could be affected as over 90% of them are concentrated in the east of the country, and if it comes to hostilities, they will first of all unfold in the east," said Yuri Dobrovolsky of Ukrainian Industry Expertise, a market research and consultancy company.
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