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Scrap lead battery prices at 7-month low

Keywords: Tags  lead scrap prices, lead battery prices, junk batteries, zinc scrap prices, LME, Daniel Fitzgerald

NEW YORK — Free-market junk lead-acid battery prices have dropped to their lowest level since March, as demand eases and supply increases as winter approaches.

Scrap auto batteries dropped to a range of 40 to 41 cents per pound from 42 to 45 cents previously, with the voracious demand exhibited from certain consumers over the past few months reported to have cooled.

"A couple of places that have been aggressive have filled up their warehouse space, so they’ve come off on their price," one buyer said.

Batteries have traded upward of 41 cents for much of 2012, with relatively mild winter conditions in North America earlier this year leading to fewer vehicle breakdowns. Supply was also squeezed by the introduction of two new battery recycling facilities from Johnson Controls Inc. (, Sept. 19) and Gopher Resource Corp. over the past year.

However, that trend appears to be easing with the onset of cold weather.

"The flow of scrap is picking up. We’ve been expecting it," a second buyer said, adding that the coming winter could produce a greater windfall of junk batteries than usual, with many of the car batteries that were close to failing last winter unlikely to make it through another.

One consumer said that the lead price on the London Metal Exchange was also having a bearing on the lead battery market, which has ignored LME trends for much of the year. "The LME has been down for a while now, so the core cost had to come back in line eventually," he said.

Three-month lead closed the LME’s official session at $2,177 per tonne (98.7 cents per pound) Wednesday.

Meanwhile, zinc scrap prices were largely unchanged, with galvanizers’ top dross widening to a range of 63 to 65 cents per pound from 63 to 64 cents.

The LME’s three-month zinc contract closed the official session at $1,907 per tonne (86.5 cents per pound) Wednesday, up 2.8 percent from $1,855 per tonne (84.1 cents per pound) Oct. 24.

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