NEW YORK Copper and brass
mill Aurubis Buffalo Inc. has seen an uptick in demand from the
ammunition, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC),
telecommunications and electronics sectors, a top executive
The rise in demand has led to a
strong order book so far this year, Todd Heusner, vice
president of marketing and sales, told AMM. "Orders
have gone up considerably. Weve had a good couple of
months of orders."
He declined to give specific
lead times, but said they were longer than the eight weeks
service centers and distributors were quoting for copper
flat-rolled products in January (
amm.com, Jan. 24).
In order to meet demand, Aurubis
is considering hiring more workers at its Buffalo, N.Y., mill,
Ammunition in particular has
been a bright spot as consumers, fearing stricter gun
regulation laws will come out of Washington, continue to
stockpile firearms, Heusner said. "Theres definitely more
interest from startups and others trying to service what could
be near-term demand. Clearly, legislation in New York and
legislation pending nationally has aroused some folks to buy a
lot more ammunition. This happens when people get worried
theyre going to have difficulty getting ammunition."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
signed the state Safe Act (Secure Ammunition and Firearms
Enforcement Act) Jan. 16, banning any magazine that can hold
more than seven rounds and requiring instant background checks
on all ammunition purchases at the time of the sale, allowing
authorities to track ammunition purchases in real time to alert
law enforcement to high-volume buys. It also requires a
statewide recertification of pistol permits every five years
and imposes a ban on certain assault weapons, according to the
Most of the bronze produced for
ammunition at the Aurubis Buffalo mill, formerly operated by
Luvata Oy, is shipped directly to original equipment
manufacturers, while only a small amount goes to distributors,
Although he was unable to
quantify how much domestic copper goes into ammunition
production, he said "it is a sizeable market in the U.S."
One source estimated that
ammunition producers purchase between 20 million and 30 million
pounds of brass annually (
amm.com, Feb. 6).
Although there has undoubtedly
been a spike in demand for ammunitionmarket participants
have pointed to the 56-percent increase in firearm background
checks to 2.5 million in January from 1.6 million in
OctoberHeusner said that demand from both the military
and commercial end-markets has been decent for a number of
"Both military and commercial
demand has remained robust and growing consistently for the
past seven or eight years," he said. "Of course, theres
the fear factor thats giving a short-term bump now. But
it goes deeper than that. Shooting is popular on the commercial
side. Its more popular with women that it ever has been.
Its not all fear-based."
In addition, Aurubis has
received increased orders from HVAC, telecommunications and
electronics customers, which Heusner attributes to the
recovering housing sector and booming automotive demand.
"All of those segments are busy
right now. HVAC is driven by housing, and the housing trend is
positive. Those numbers are pretty strong right now," he
The only segment that
hasnt experienced a rise in orders is the engine cooling
segment, Heusner said.
Aurubis engine cooling
products are used almost entirely in off-road vehicles, such as
earth movers for mining and heavy construction, and farm
equipment, such as tractors and combines. End-consumers include
Caterpillar Inc. and John Deere & Co., both of which have
forecast a slower first half in 2013, hence the reason for
slower demand, he said.