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US copper scrap discounts tightening

Keywords: Tags  copper scrap, brass scrap, Comex, Kennecott, Bingham Canyon, copper cathode, Nathan Laliberte

NEW YORK — Copper scrap discounts tightened further April 24 as precipitous drops on Comex combined with uncertainty about future scrap supplies continue to support secondary prices.

The discount for brass ingot makers’ No. 1 bare bright narrowed to 3 to 5 cents per pound below Comex compared with a 4- to 6-cent discount a week earlier, putting prices at $3.11 to $3.13 per pound based on a May-delivery Comex copper contract settlement price of $3.157 per pound April 24.

The discount on brass ingot makers’ No. 1 copper scrap fell to 11 to 13 cents per pound from 13 to 15 cents, putting prices at $3.03 to $3.05 per pound; No. 2 copper scrap tightened to a 24- to 26-cent discount, putting prices at $2.90 to $2.92 per pound; and light copper moved down to a 34- to 36-cent discount from 36 to 40 cents previously, putting prices at $2.80 to $2.82 per pound.

The discount for refiners’ No. 2 copper scrap decreased to 25 to 27 cents per pound below Comex from 27 to 29 cents previously, putting prices in a range of $2.89 to $2.91 per pound.

"It’s not as if business is screaming just because spreads are tightening," one scrap trader said. "We are certainly not inundated with calls from people wanting to sell." He said most traders feel that sellers are waiting for a rebound in terminal markets before parting with material.

Sources also indicated that an April 10 wall slide at Kennecott Utah Copper’s Bingham Canyon Mine that forced the company to declare force majeure (, April 16) could have an effect on scrap pricing if domestic cathode supplies diminish over the next few months.

"The collapse will absolutely have an effect on cathode supply. Consumers who can transition to copper scrap, as opposed to cathode, will do so if it’s feasible," a second trader said. "That type of activity could bring spreads in even further."

Meanwhile, prices for brass scrap fell April 24 on the back of major declines in primary copper and primary tin.

"Sellers of brass scrap can no longer sustain their high prices," a brass scrap trader said. "Ingot makers are under a tremendous amount of pressure to buy material at lower prices, especially as Comex continues to fall."

Prices for red brass (No. 1 composition solids) fell to a range of $2.51 to $2.54 per pound from $2.57 to $2.60 previously, while borings and turnings slid to $2.47 to $2.50 per pound from $2.54 to $2.57.

Radiators fell to $2.10 to $2.13 per pound from $2.17 to $2.20 previously, and yellow brass solids weakened to $2.08 to $2.10 per pound from $2.14 to $2.17.

All other secondary grades were unchanged.

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