Scrap metal dealers in the Pacific coast Canadian province of
British Columbia will face tighter regulations from July 23, as
its government struggles with widespread theft of high-value
British Columbian dealers trying to sell metals, including
aluminium, bronze, brass, lead, nickel, zinc and magnesium
often targeted by thieves will need to provide
identification before completing deals.
Purchasers will have to register with provincial authorities
and share seller information with the police. Those who fail to
do this will risk fines of up to Canadian C$100,000 ($99,900)
and a maximum six months imprisonment.
The move has been sparked by thieves stealing items such as
copper telephone wire, causing losses to utilities and
British Columbia Hydro, an electricity utility company, alone
racked up at C$10 million in losses in 2011, according to the
provinces ministry of justice.
Leonard Shaw, executive director of the Canadian Assn of
Recycling Industries, said thieves were motivated by high
prices for metals such as copper and aluminium, spurred by high
demand in China and India.
Metal theft has increased in the past decade and it is
directly proportional to the increase in the price of
metal, he said.
But new regulations would not solve the problem because it is
nearly impossible to distinguish between pieces of metal,
legitimate or not, Shaw said.
Prosecution of theft is difficult when police cannot prove
where someone obtained the metal and if it is stolen property.
Steel Pacific Recycling, the largest metal recycler on
Vancouver Island, supports the regulations as higher
standards for recyclers, Andrew Ketch, the companys
director of communication, said.
Steel Pacific Recycling is very encouraged that the
Province of BC [British Columbia] is taking action against
metal theft and we fully support the new guidelines,
That said, there are concerns the rules could lead to an
increase in black market exports by deterring thieves from
dealing with scrap metal purchasers, Shaw said.
Ian Weinstein, co-director of Allied Salvage and Metals, based
in Richmond, British Columbia, agreed the regulations could
encourage the development of underground scrapyards allowing
thieves to export without divulging information.
They could export for sure. They would have the means to
do it, he said.