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BIR Non-Ferrous World Mirror December 2014

Global – The following article is based on the latest Non-Ferrous Metals World Mirror produced by the BIR world recycling organisation for the benefit of its members.

The market in the USA is still dominated by the low volumes of non-ferrous scrap for collection. ′Margins continue to be weak owing to the fact that too little metal is available and everybody is chasing it to show sales on their balance sheets,′ it has been reported. In Italy too, scrap availability ′remains generally quite low′.

Feedback from France suggests purchasers ′have to fight to buy′ while selling is ′a permanent struggle′. For both copper and aluminium scrap, only very high grade material is in demand – and at very low prices, it is added. In neighbouring Germany, the market is described as ′quiet′ and demand ′low′. In 2014 as a whole, the recyling trade ′has had hardly any chance to make money′ such that, for many companies, it has been a worse year than 2008 and 2009.

The weakness of exports to Asia has affected many traders, it is pointed out. The non-ferrous market in South Africa has been slow because businesses will close shortly for the holidays and do not want to carry much stock over the shutdown period. Export permits are being granted for copper scrap, but overseas shipments are still taking place under different tariff headings and through loopholes in the system.

Meanwhile, aluminium scrap continues to be exported without any restrictions. Market conditions remain soft in Australia and New Zealand although the prospect of traditional pre-Christmas factory clean-outs has left most merchants optimistic about December intake. In both countries, secondary metal consumers are making purchases on the back of reasonable order books.

Scrap availability has also increased in the Middle East; in particular, higher volumes of copper and aluminium scrap have been obtained for trade and export. Steady supply, however, has been counterbalanced by slowing demand from the main markets for Middle Eastern material. In Asia, the leading copper producer in China – namely, Jiangxi Copper – is forecasting a 7% increase next year in domestic consumption of the red metal.

Over in Japan, meanwhile, clear signs of economic downturn have prompted the government to postpone until April 2017 a further consumption tax increase to 10%. However, the domestic aluminium scrap market has remained strong with price increases of US$ 50-80 per ton. And in India, domestic demand for non-ferrous scrap has been slower from key consuming industries and forecasts for the first quarter of 2015 are indicating that conditions will be ′even more challenging′.

Tax reform in Mexico has reduced the influence of VAT within the scrap trade – ′but it has not eliminated it′, it is argued, as prices for those grades most in demand from domestic consumers ′still show the influence of VAT′. The country′s exporters of copper and copper-bearing scrap must now apply to go on a special registry, a requirement that led recently to a temporary hiatus in overseas shipments.

Slow economic activity in Brazil, meanwhile, has relieved the pressure on scrap prices. The sharp devaluation of the rouble has enabled exporters of semi-finished products in Russia to pay better prices for scrap and thereby boost their incoming tonnages. Despite lower duties on non-ferrous scrap exports since September, substantial volumes are still being sold domestically because of favourable prices and logistics. Indeed, the mills are now said to be paying for scrap on arrival whereas, traditionally, delays could be expected.

Across in the Nordic Countries, there is one tradition that cannot be altered: scrap activity over the next few months will depend substantially on temperatures and snowfall levels.

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