Global – The import restrictions in China will catalyse the scrap markets into some form of evolution, according to Enrique Acosta of BMB Metals, chairman of the BIR world recycling organisation’s Latin America Committee. If China does indeed reduce its scrap imports, ‘Latin America has the ability to become the new frontier in terms of material processing’, he argues.
In the latest BIR world mirror on Latin America, Acosta foresees ‘significant changes’ to the recycling industry. ‘Like water, scrap flows will seek the paths of least resistance,’ he says. ‘Could the region see a reverse in scrap flows and potentially become a processing centre and production hub? I believe the answer could be a resounding ”Yes”.’
According to Acosta, Latin America today mirrors the China of 20 years ago in terms of cost structures and potential growth. ‘The availability of raw materials locally as well as the ability to process scrap into high-quality products using a low-cost labour force are the key ingredients that we saw in Asia 20 years ago,’ he states. ‘The Latin American market has always held the advantage of a capable and cost-effective labour force for efficiently processing and upgrading materials.’
Latin America is also ‘strategically positioned’ between Asia and Europe, with the USA as its closest neighbour, Acosta points out. ‘The Latin American manufacturing base counts on international players that fulfil key roles in the recycling industry, such as Gerdau, ArcelorMittal, Nemak, Alcoa and Novelis; and governments in the region are eager to support the continued economic growth and expansion they have experienced in the past two decades.’