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Illegal copper exports thwart Sri Lankan industry

Sri Lanka – A significant shortage of copper scrap is blocking growth in Sri Lanka, according to Orange Electric. And the manufacturer, importer and supplier of electrical products has set up a ‘state-of-the-art’ copper scrap recycling plant in a bid to resolve the problem.

Situated in the country’s capital and largest city Colombo, the new plant is claimed to be capable of processing ‘all the copper waste available in the country’ – estimated at some 200 tonnes per month – which would satisfy over 20% of domestic copper wire demand. ‘Our recycling systems have the capacity to process the scrap into 99.98% pure high-grade copper,’ notes Orange Electric’s managing director Kushan Kodituwakku.

Optimal use could enable the facility to achieve a foreign exchange saving of US$ 16 million, it has been calculated. The shortage of copper is interfering with the everyday business opportunities of traditional and small industries across Sri Lanka, according to Kodituwakku. And despite a government ban, Sri Lanka has been exporting copper waste to India as well as to Japan, he suggests.

Customs reports state that Sri Lanka has imported over 67 000 tonnes of copper wire and cable since 2007. The irony, Kodituwakku asserts, is that copper scrap readily available domestically could make higher-grade cable than the imported product. ‘If authorities can put the necessary regulations in place to control these illegal exports, we can push for improvement in our market, having copper wire produced through recycled material,’ he declares.

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Source: Lanka Business Today

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