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Market Update

Among the precious and base metals that are most prevalent in used electronics, palladium futures have had the best year-to-date price performance through early February, rising 14.6 percent since the end of 2016 according to CME Group data.

Silver and platinum prices were each up around 12 percent over the corresponding period, while copper prices advanced 11 percent on the back on copper mine disruptions in Chile and Indonesia. While lagging the rest of the group, COMEX gold futures were still up more than 7 percent to around $1,235 per troy ounce as of February 10.

Traditionally seen as a safe-haven or “risk-off” asset, gold prices also benefit from investor flows into the commodities space, with gold prices having peaked near $1,900 per ton during the post-recession bounce in 2011. But as reported recently in the Wall Street Journal, “risk-on” and “risk-off” assets are rapidly being replaced by “Trump-on” and “Trump-off” assets, “where particular sectors move in opposite directions in response to fiscal stimulus and deregulation sentiment changes.” A potential suspension of the conflict minerals rule under Dodd-Frank, which Reuters reports the new administration is considering suspending for a two year period, would certainly have important implications for the global gold, tantalum, tin, and tungsten markets. Looking forward, Macquarie Research (London) is forecasting an average gold price of $1,216 per troy ounce in 2017 and $1,375 per troy ounce in 2018.

Also of note for gold and electronics recyclers, there are new changes in the pipeline for gold recovery and recycling standards as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is beginning to develop a new field of technical activity on gold. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) will be representing U.S. interests and ISRI will be commenting on the recovery and recycling aspects of any technical standards being formulated. Any comments or questions on the development of this technical document can be directed to Adina R. Adler or Bernie Lee. We would welcome your perspective on how to organize recycling and recovery interests to improve market conditions and transparency for our members.

In market development news, Tesla has been rapidly improving their home battery arm with a new power storage facility that is up and running in southern California. This development, coupled with the rapid improvements in the self-driving car market, may mean new avenues for e-scrap recyclers as batteries and their component electronics are making powerful headways into the market. In markets overseas, Recycling International cites a United Nations University report as saying “the volume of electronic scrap generated across 12 Asian countries increased by 63 percent between 2010 and 2015,”  as the volume of electronic scrap generated in China more than doubled over the period. The report cites “innovation in new technology, growing population with rising incomes, decreasing usage times and lifespan of products, and increased imports” as the main drivers of the increase e-scrap generation.

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