Navigating narrowing non-ferrous spreads

Written by Gabriella Vagnini

At the ISRI2024 conference, now rebranded as Recycled Metals Association, the focus on the aluminum scrap scarcity of supply echoed sentiments expressed by CRU attendees during CESCO’s copper week in Chile.

Both events, which took place in April, underscored concerns about securing aluminum and copper scrap supply amidst expanding global recycling capacity. This became particularly evident in copper with China’s increased recycled copper production. This discussion highlights potential strain on global supply chains amid rising demand for environmentally friendly copper products.

Industry discourse includes debates on protective measures in scrap-exporting markets like Europe and the U.S., where recycling capacity is also growing. The robust demand for scrap in China, reflected in heightened imports, emphasizes the importance of self-sufficiency in scrap sourcing.

While availability in the U.S. and Europe remains somewhat stable, albeit below usual levels despite higher prices, smelters are cautious about supply security. The dwindling supply poses a significant challenge for mills striving to meet demand, sparking speculation that major manufacturers are driving up prices for PAS and UBCs.

(MWUSTP $1.35/lb, LME 3M $2570/mt)
1100 Bare82%
5052 Bare89%
6061 Turnings62%
6061 Sheet/Plate/Clip70%
10/10 Extrusion72%
6063 Bare Extrusion88%
EC Chops84%
EC Wire85%
Irony Extrusion – 95/569%
Old Sheet62%
Car Rims – Clean (Limited)82%
Wheels – Dirty76%
(Comex – July 4.5720)
Bare Bright– 0.09c
#1 Copper– 0.12c
#2 Copper– 0.25c
ICW #1
(x recovery + processing 10c)
– 0.18c
ICW #2
(x recovery + processing 10c)
– 0.30c
Birch/Cliff– 0.29c
Copper Rads– 0.40c
Copper Chops– 0.22c

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