Aluminum sheet faces scrap segregation test

Jun 13, 2014 | 05:28 PM | Sean Davidson

Tags  aluminum sheet, automotive aluminum, Alcoa, Novelis, secondary aluminum, aluminum scrap, aluminum alloy, Ducker Worldwide Kevin McKnight

NEW YORK — The steady climb of aluminum sheet used in light vehicle bodies could send certain aluminum scrap prices soaring next year before increased sheet production drives more scrap into the recycling stream, according to market participants.

Mission statements by major producers such as Atlanta-based Novelis Inc. to achieve an 80-percent scrap utilization rate by 2020 will cause supply tightness for some industrial scrap grades in the near term, with producers and suppliers working toward viable segregation of scrap.

The industry’s major scrap suppliers and consumers said segregation is the main area of concern for companies such as Novelis and Pittsburgh-based Alcoa Inc., as both look to increase recycled metal content in their production of aluminum auto sheet.

Aluminum sheet for cars will typically be made from high magnesium aluminum alloys such as 5182, 5052, 5252 and 5454, as well as heat-treated alloys such as 6022, 6111, 6016 and 6011. However, scrap aluminum for these grades—5052 withstanding—isn’t generated in sufficient volumes by today’s manufacturers to meet the estimated near-term demand from Novelis and Alcoa.

A significant volume of industrial or manufacturing scrap that does contain those alloys is typically commingled with other alloys and not segregated into individual piles, which is critical since Alcoa and Novelis can only melt the scrap from one specific alloy to produce that specific alloy.....

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