At least once a year, and always in step with
the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries' annual convention
and exposition, AMM takes a close look at the financial ups and
downs, major themes, high-profile players, companies and events
that have made their mark-good or bad-on the ferrous and
nonferrous scrap industries over the preceding 12 months.
What a year it's been, particularly in
ferrous. Fairy-tale-high to horror-tale-low prices prevailed in
a roller-coaster market that took a death-defying dive in the
final quarter of last year.
With mill capability utilization rates stuck
well below 50 percent and players from one end of the metals
supply chain to the other still searching for convincing signs
that the economy has hit bottom, there's little question that
the story of the year in scrap-as well as in steel, metals
distribution, fabrication, construction and manufacturing, for
that matter-is the meltdown of the world's financial
The theme of ISRI's annual convention in Las
Vegas is "Challenge, Opportunities, Change"-with the emphasis
definitely on change. And while ferrous scrap processors,
dealers, traders and consumers are eager for change to lift the
scrap and steel markets out of the funk they are mired in,
there's little question that one of the most dramatic changes
visited on the North American ferrous scrap scene over the past
year was the purchase and subsequent absorption by Nucor Corp.
and Steel Dynamics Inc. of David J. Joseph and OmniSource
In this month's cover story (page 26), AMM
chief scrap correspondent Michael Marley surveys a variety of
sources to assess the impact of the scrap business acquisitions
on the mills that purchased them. Although both Nucor and SDI
declined to participate, industry analysts are unified in their
view that, short term, the acquisitions have been anything but
When times get tough, the tough typically get
tougher about the credit terms extended to even their best
customers. In a sign-of-the-times story on page 30, scrap
reporter Paul Schaffer takes a close look at the pros and cons
and asks recyclers to rate the return on credit insurance.
Finally, nonferrous reporter Anne Riley takes
a cautionary look at the flood of copper scrap contracts ripped
up last fall by Chinese buyers and what, if anything, U.S.
exporters learned from the experience (page 32).
That's it for now. Happy reading!