Gallery: SA Recycling begins bulk iron ore shipments

LONG BEACH -- The iron ore being loaded by crane into a massive ship berthed at Port of Long Beach's Pier T on Tuesday may not have meant much to a casual observer.

But to longtime scrap metal exporter SA Recycling and city and port officials, the mounds of inky metal grounds represent new business and new jobs.

City, port and business officials on Tuesday celebrated SA Recycling's expansion into iron ore exporting, the first to be shipped out of the Port of Long Beach in 40 years.

George Adams Sr., center,  chats with Doug Drummond, of the Harbor Comminssion, right.
George Adams Sr., center, chats with Doug Drummond, of the Harbor Comminssion, right. (Brittany Murray / Staff Photographer)

The event included Vice Mayor Robert Garcia, SA Recycling President/CEO George Adams, CML Metals Corp. President and CEO Dale Gilbert and Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners Vice President Thomas Fields, who added that the iron ore business means more jobs to the local economy.

"We believe that's going to impact the area positively," Fields said.

SA Recycling annually processes about 2.5 million tons of scrap metal, most of it exported through the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. The scrap is put on bulk cargo ships destined for China, Taiwan, South Korea and other countries that then take the scrap, melt it down and repurpose it into parts for products.


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Nearly two years in the making, SA Recycling officials began exploring iron ore as demand for scrap metal dipped.

"That downturn led to them say, 'We've got to do something else. We've got to find other ways to utilize our facilities,'" said David Thornburg, director of public affairs for SA Recycling. "The best fit was iron ore because the same customers who buy iron ore also buy scrap metal. "

These shipments are the first iron ore to be exported from the Port of Long Beach in 40 years.
These shipments are the first iron ore to be exported from the Port of Long Beach in 40 years. (Brittany Murray / Staff Photographer)

The iron ore is a core ingredient in the making of steel and other metal, and SA Recycling can load up to 60,000 tons of it and have it shipped to Asian countries such as China, Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia.

By offering iron ore, SA Recycling is able to offer a mix of the metals on the same ship, he said.

"For us, it's a logical choice," said George Adams, president and CEO of SA Recycling, which for more than 15 years has operated a break bulk terminal at Pier T.

SA Recycling plans to load up to 1 million tons of iron ore this year.

"This kind of diversification allows them to do business where different products are in demand," said Don Snyder, director of Trade Development at the Port of Long Beach.

Karen Robes Meeks can be reached at 562-499-1303