Slight optimism over the shifting global copper and aluminium scrap markets dominated an online session recently hosted by the Bureau of International Recycling.
According to Dhawal Shah of Metco Marketing in India, the domestic secondary non-ferrous sector had mirrored a recent upturn in most other parts of his country’s economy, with the crucial automotive industry boosted notably in recent months by rural demand. A ‘very ambitious’ nationwide vehicle scrappage programme would be unveiled shortly, said Shah, which he believed should have a transformational impact on new car sales and domestic scrap loops.
The other ‘new China’
Shah also raised latest developments in Pakistan, which he observed as ‘one of the fastest-growing recycling industries’. Once China had begun to make changes to its environmental laws, ‘a lot of non-ferrous scrap started going to Pakistan for recycling and smelting to make ingots for the domestic and international markets,’ he explained. ‘Pakistan also senses that, if they are to grow, they need to ensure that they wholly and squarely address environmental concerns as well, and they are putting new investment in that direction.’
Meanwhile, Shen Dong of US-based Omnisource Corporation reported that China had remained a significant world market: its 12 batches of import quotas issued in 2020 amounted to almost 880 000 tonnes of copper scrap and 818 000 tonnes of aluminium scrap. However, many shipping lines had stopped accepting scrap cargoes for China given its imminent ban on solid waste imports. Lines were also reluctant to ship to Hong Kong, Dong noted.
According to Nick Hinohara of Japan-based Metal Solution Provider, recovery within the Japanese automotive sector had led to a ‘very tight’ domestic market for aluminium scrap whereas demand for No 2 copper scrap was ‘relatively weak’. For the USA, Rick Dobkin of Shapiro Metals reported that secondary aluminium scrap exports had been finding their way to healthy markets in Asia ‘making the domestic scramble for scrap ever more pressing’.
Projects on hold
Sidney Lazarus of Non-Ferrous Metal Works (SA) (PTY) confirmed an improvement in business conditions as well as greater scrap dealer activity within South Africa. Regarding the Middle East, however, he expressed some concerns that the pandemic had led to the postponement of a number of major projects, quoting Dubai as an example. However, once they go ahead these projects would have a substantial beneficial impact on metals demand, he added.
Summing up the sentiments of several contributors to the webinar, Leopoldo Clemente of Italy-based LCD Trading SRL urged the scrap sector to continue to harness its innate ‘passion and positivity’. Southern Europe had been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, he said, but a recent survey of more than 6 000 Italian businesses indicated that over half had either already returned to pre-Covid levels of activity or expected to do so in the fourth quarter.
The new normal
Mogens Christensen of H.J. Hansen Recycling Industry of Denmark said markets in Europe were returning to ‘some kind of new normal’. Speaking in the context of the recently-introduced European Green Deal aimed at making the continent more resource-efficient and climate-neutral, he insisted: ‘The recycling of non-ferrous metals is crucial to reaching the targets. We must make it clear to everybody that free trade in scrap metals is contributing to the development of the Circular Economy.’
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