Tight Titanium Scrap Supply in Japan

Japanese buyers compete to secure titanium scrap. Rolled titanium makers seek the buyers to send returning scrap in order to build scrap inventory preparing for the Toho Titanium’s start of domestic first large electron beam furnace with annual 10,000 tonnes of output capacity in spring 2008. Toho Titanium started the construction work of the electron beam furnace in Nippon Steel’s Yawata works in July. The furnace can accept scrap with 40 centimeters width, which is larger than 10 cm size for the firm’s existing electron beam furnace with annual 2,500 tonnes of capacity in Hitachi plant of Nippon Mining & Metals. Toho Titanium is suffered from the smaller scrap size, which needs extra charge for processing before the melting. The some processing could increase the cost to more than breakeven point for billet end ingot, which needs extra processing due to the big size, and new cutting scrap, which costs higher for the lighter weight. With the cost issue, scrap with high purity, which can used for recycling, is tend to ship for steel making additives as lower grade scrap and for offshore alloy makers. Toho Titanium should secure larger volume of scrap. Japanese titanium scrap generation is estimated to be annual 3,000-5,000 tonnes. The firm plans to produce annual 7,000 tonnes of the metal at new electron beam furnace. With less scrap availability, the firm should reduce the operation. Toho Titanium’s sponge titanium buyers of rolled titanium makers seek distributors to return scrap since the end of 2005 in order to build inventory. However, the rolled titanium makers’ scrap purchase is only temporally action to prepare for the launch of new furnace. The titanium tight supply could ease after sponge titanium makers will expand the output. Without sustainable recycling system, scrap would keep flowing to offshore market and domestic titanium industry could not secure raw material.