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BIR Non-Ferrous World Mirror October 2013

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.

On September 16, the Department of Trade and Industry in South Africa duly introduced its directive covering restrictions on exports of scrap, and few export applications have been received thus far. The country’s Metal Recycling Association (MRA) has taken legal action over the new rules which propose a price advantage for domestic scrap buyers; a judgement is expected by October 25 at the latest. If this action fails, it is believed a significant number of scrap dealers will consider taking up the manufacture of copper and aluminium alloy ingots.

Meanwhile, the aluminium market in Brazil is described as ‘a mess’ following Alcoa’s decision to reduce its capacity; local light metal prices have ‘sky-rocketed’ despite a decline on the LME. And in Mexico, some companies are reportedly struggling to secure VAT refunds from the government when they export and have responded by selling on the home market, leading to increased availability for domestic consumers who can pick up non-ferrous scrap at prices below international levels.

On the non-ferrous markets in the USA, activity has been ‘subdued’ while volumes and margins have shown little sign of improvement. Twitch has continued to attract healthy demand and is selling at a premium over old sheet and cast.

Moving across to Asia, non-ferrous scrap activity in India has also been lacklustre, with brass and lead secondary items suffering a particularly steep drop in volumes. The weakness of the rupee has restricted imports while demand for secondary aluminium and zinc ingots has been ‘steady’ as vehicle manufacturers have been embarking on a sales push in the period of festivities running from the end of September to the middle of November. As a result, India has remained ‘an attractive destination’ for aluminium and zinc scrap.

Owing to the depreciation of the yen, Japan has been importing lower volumes of aluminium alloy ingot from China, Russia and other countries when compared to last year, leading to more orders for local aluminium alloy producers. Meanwhile, latest Chinese customs figures show that its copper scrap imports totalled 390 000 tonnes in September for a decline of more than 10% over the same month in 2012; year on year, imports of aluminium scrap were 6.5% lower at around 230 000 tonnes.

Scrap processors in the Middle East are continuing to complain of a shortage of scrap; China and India remain their main export destinations although European buyers have also attempted to place orders – but with only limited success.

As in many other parts of the world, scrap availability has been a key concern in Australasia, although recent closures and consolidation within the processing sector have meant improved trading volumes for those operations that remain. Overall, however, market conditions are said to remain ‘challenging’ in both Australia and New Zealand.

In Europe, sentiment has been buoyed by increased optimism in Germany – the leading EU economy. Demand for scrap has grown substantially and some grades are ‘already becoming scarce’. The domestic metals industry is finding little difficulty with their sales and factories ‘are partially sold out for a long period ahead’. Meanwhile, there are early, faint signs of improved demand for German scrap exports to Asia.

In Italy, industrial production has improved following the summer holidays but scrap generation is still low, with the slightly higher volumes available being ‘greedily devoured’ by consumers across various industries. In addition to Millberry and Birch/Cliff, lead and zinc scrap are enjoying good demand.

Feedback from France, meanwhile, points to little interest from Southern Europe in mixed brass scrap. Europe-wide demand for most grades of aluminium scrap is deemed to be ‘satisfactory’ although the low grades are ‘much more difficult to sell than the better qualities’. Demand for lead batteries continues to be healthy but material ‘is still proving difficult to find’.

In the Nordic Countries, industry in Finland recorded 4.4% negative growth across the first eight months of this year – but a return to positive territory is anticipated in the autumn months. Sweden and Denmark are forecast to register growth for this year of, respectively, 1% and 0.3%, rising to 2.5% and 1.5% for 2014. Growth in Norway is expected to be around 2% this year.

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