UPDATED- Recycled aluminum prices at risk of volatility and US mining industry faces talent squeeze

Written by Gabriella Vagnini

LME Aluminum Delivery Rattles Markets

The record aluminum delivery into the London Metal Exchange (LME) by Trafigura, comprising over 500,000mt and largely originating from India. On Tuesday, there was yet another inflow delivered in the warehouse. It is poised to impact scrap metal prices in several ways.

Firstly, the significant increase in aluminum inventories could exert downward pressure on prices due to heightened supply levels. However, the potential for delivery queues in Port Klang, Malaysia, and the strategic timing of the delivery before a key LME liquidity date might introduce uncertainty, which could lead to short-term price fluctuations.

Additionally, concerns about market manipulation and regulatory responses to mitigate such risks may influence investor sentiment and contribute to price volatility. Despite the initial drop in aluminum prices following the inventory announcement, continued monitoring of market dynamics and regulatory developments will be crucial for assessing the long-term effects on scrap metal prices.

Critical Mineral Rush

The rush to develop domestic supplies of critical minerals in the United States is facing a significant talent squeeze. This could have ripple effects on non-ferrous scrap metal industries, as the availability of materials like lithium, copper, and rare earth elements impacts clean energy technologies and advanced weapons systems.

With China’s dominance in processing and refining many of these materials, there’s concern among U.S. lawmakers about the country’s mineral security. However, the shortage of skilled workers, including mining engineers, poses a challenge. As the current mining workforce ages and fewer people enter the industry, production targets and strategic objectives are being impeded. Efforts to attract and train the next generation of miners are underway, including bipartisan legislation to allocate funds for mining schools and industry outreach initiatives. Yet, changing the public perception of the mining industry and addressing generational skill gaps will likely take decades to yield significant results.


Exciting news in the aluminum market today! Today, May 15, only one day after I originally published this article, the market had a notable shift. The LME 3-month price surged, trading this early morning at $2,603/mt, marking a 2% increase since yesterday’s close. This uptick accompanies a significant rise in warrant cancellations, with the LME reporting 208,200/mt cancelled – a staggering 100,000/mt increase from yesterday. Port Klang leads the charge with 170,525/mt cancelled, up 99,900/mt from yesterday.

What does this mean for the recycled metals community, besides a rally in pricing?
The surge in warrant cancellations and the uptick in LME prices suggest increased demand for aluminum.
This could also indicate growing opportunities for recycling and supplying raw materials to meet the rising demand.
Recycled aluminum buyers may be seeking to fulfill orders or replenish inventories amid market fluctuations.
It’s a good time for stakeholders in the recycled aluminum industry to monitor market dynamics closely and capitalize on emerging trends.

Stay tuned for more updates as the market continues to unfold!

This story was updated at 12:30 EST on May 15 to reflect current market status.

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