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UPDATE: East China steel mart rides out typhoon Lekima

Steelmakers and their raw materials suppliers in North China are keeping a watchful eye on Typhoon Lekima after it slammed into East China region over the weekend and wound its way north causing death and destruction. By 3 am on Tuesday morning, the typhoon was expected to be located in the Bohai Sea, east of Tianjin and south of the major iron ore port of Qinhuangdao.

“If you track the real-time weather situation the typhoon will continue to affect Shandong province for a while, so we are still warning local ports and ships to take related precautions during the period,” an official with the Shandong Maritime Safety Administration told Mysteel on Monday.

Operations at some local ports in Shandong were totally suspended over the past weekend to avoid risks to safety as the typhoon sliced its way through the province. However, by Monday some ports had already started to gradually resume their operations, especially regarding ship docking and berthing at the harbors.

“We are resuming ship berthing bit by bit, according to weather conditions in each port now, and the truck transportation from and to ports is also normal now,” an official with Qingdao port confirmed Monday morning. Before that, the port had gradually suspended ship berthing operations from late on August 9, the official added.

The typhoon made landfall in South China’s Fujian province on Friday after pummelling Taiwan and proceeded northward over the weekend, as Mysteel reported. As of 17:00 on Sunday, Lekima had impacted 6.5 million people in six provinces and cities in East and South China, including Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Anhui, Shandong and Fujian provinces, had claimed at least 32 lives and led some 1.5 million people to be evacuated, according to reports from China’s official media Xinhua News.

“For a typhoon as powerful as this, the results could be much worse were it not for the countermeasures prepared in advance,” a steel market source based in Shanghai said.

Though the destructive typhoon flooded land and damaged houses, China’s steel market in these regions was not affected much and as of noon Monday was quickly recovering from the short-term disruption, Mysteel Global understands.

“We held a meeting the day before (Lekima’s arrival) and our general manager led an emergency team in person to counter it,” an official with a steel mill based in Ningbo city, a coastal city in Zhejiang, told Mysteel Global on Monday. “We did a lot of preparation including building up sandbags, so our plant was not flooded, and production was not disrupted at all.”

Another steel company in Hangzhou city, Zhejiang provincial capital and close to the sea, also confirmed to Mysteel there was no impact on production from the typhoon.

“The heavy rains only lasted for one day and the weather turned to be nice after the typhoon left. Our business is as usual,” a steel trader in Hangzhou said.

“As the typhoon had generally been expected, steel traders closed their businesses early last Friday – due to absence of demand – but over the weekend, demand has gradually recovered, even though a few construction sites in Wenzhou and Taizhou cities (in Zhejiang) are still coping with minor flooding,” another market watcher based in Zhejiang province observed.

Over the weekend, operations at some ports along the Yangtze River in Jiangsu province and in Shandong were partially affected by the typhoon weather, but as of early Monday, business had resumed, Mysteel Global understands.  

“Ports such as Jiangyin, Taicai, Zhangjiagang and Ruhao (all in Jiangsu) suspended ship berthing and departing over the weekend, but now such operations are gradually returning to normal,” a Shanghai-based market source said.

Written by Olivia Zhang, zhangwd@mysteel.com and Victoria Zou, zyongjia@mysteel.com

Edited by Russ McCulloch, russ.mcculloch@mysteel.com