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Zorba prices dip; higher grades being sought

Keywords: Tags  China imports, Operation Green Fence, zorba, scrap, Nathan Laliberte

NEW YORK — Export prices for shredded aluminum scrap, or zorba, have weakened over the past month as exporters have attempted to elevate metallic minimums to meet China’s stepped-up standards for solid waste imports (, May 16).

Picked-up prices for 90-percent metallic units with 3-percent red metal hovered around 72 to 73 cents per pound, down 1 to 2 cents from a month earlier, exporters said.

"China is not aggressively buying zorba like they used to," one exporter told AMM. "I think Chinese consumers are being very tentative, which is keeping a lot of material stateside. At the same time, some of the domestic media (separation) plants do not have a huge appetite for zorba. Basically, the overall tempo has subsided a little bit."

Others said that demand from China is still robust, especially for higher-grade material.

"My buyers are always buying—they need the material," a second exporter said. "I think that demand for the higher grades of zorba is stronger than it’s ever been. When people say that Chinese consumers are not being aggressive, it’s because buyers no longer want marginal grades of zorba."

Most exporters said that picked-up prices for higher grades of zorba, in the 94- to 95-percent metallic range with 3-percent red metal, were in a range of 74 to 76 cents per pound.

"Prior to shipment, we are processing our zorba multiple times, which obviously takes more time and costs more money," a third exporter said, adding that raising the metallic content of the material was the best way to ensure that loads wouldn’t get rejected at ports.

"Putting an additional cost on zorba is certainly not ideal, especially when the shredding business as a whole has been struggling as of late, but it’s what we have to do to get the material out of the country," the third exporter said.

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