Some countries are flouting global trade rules and erecting barriers to key raw materials such as iron ore and scrap, the head of major U.S. steelmaker Nucor Corp said Wednesday.
"Raw material hoarding is a big issue facing the world whether you're doing it or being affected by it," chairman and chief executive officer Dan DiMicco told a steel industry gathering.
"It's a big issue, (it's) going to get bigger and it's not going to be tolerated."
Mr. DiMicco, who is often outspoken in his criticism of China's state-owned companies exporting lower-priced steel to the U.S., did not say which countries were hoarding raw materials.
But he repeated his calls for Washington to take action against countries that do not play by global trade rules. That would include countries blocking steelmakers from buying key raw materials.
Nucor makes its steel mostly from scrap, recycled from used automobiles and other equipment. It also recently opened a plant in Louisiana to produce pig iron, or Direct Reduced Iron (DRI), which is used with scrap to help maintain desired chemistry of the steel. Other manufacturers use iron ore to make steel in blast furnaces fueled by coking coal.
Asked during the Steel Success Strategies conference whether he favored tariffs or embargoes on U.S. scrap exports, Mr. DiMicco said action was needed.
"It can't be that you can buy raw materials from where you want to, but people can't buy them in your back yard.
"It's a big issue, governments are getting into it. (We need) stoppage of trade barriers to raw materials."
It was essential, Mr. DiMicco said, to enforce a level playing field for U.S. steelmakers to compete in the global economy. "I believe the markets should function freely. When people come to the United States to buy scrap and we have to compete with them, so be it.
"What I would recommend is that any country that has barriers to the export of raw materials to the United States or anywhere else, not be allowed to buy scrap from our country."
He warned of retaliation against any country putting limits on iron ore or scrap exports. "If you're going to live by the sword then you're going to die by the sword.
"That's what I'd like to see and maybe people will stop doing it, If people do not do that and it becomes a burden on our industry then our government's probably going to have to do something."