U.S. nonferrous scrap metal exports reportedly improved in August, with aluminum and copper scrap exports up 9% and 8%, respectively, as compared to the July volumes. For U.S. copper scrap exporters, Malaysia continues to be the major export destination this year, with Jan-Aug 2019 shipments up nearly 165 percent year-on-year to more than 148,000 metric tons, eclipsing the 71,000 tons of copper scrap shipped directly to mainland China.
But the drop in copper and copper alloy scrap shipments to China has been pronounced this year, with significant implications for the domestic copper scrap market. Here’s the trend in U.S. copper scrap exports to China by grade and the corresponding decline in No. 2 copper scrap prices paid by refiners:
In contrast, mainland China remains the largest reported destination for U.S. aluminum scrap exports this year, with more than 280,000 tons of aluminum scrap shipped to China through August. Other major markets for U.S. aluminum scrap this year include South Korea (180,000 mt), India (175,000 mt), Malaysia (145,000 mt), Mexico (124,000 mt) and Hong Kong (75,000 mt). For the year-to-date, U.S. aluminum scrap exports of just over 1.26 million mt through August were up 13% as compared to the corresponding period last year, according to Census Bureau trade data.
Here are the largest year-to-date net gains and losses in U.S. aluminum scrap exports by major market: