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China drives fall in April nonferrous scrap exports

Keywords: Tags  nonferrous scrap, scrap exports, aluminum scrap, UBCs, lead scrap, nickel scrap, copper scrap, zinc scrap Sean Davidson

NEW YORK — Nonferrous scrap exports declined in April as weak demand from China hit volumes.

Exports of the six nonferrous metals monitored by AMM—aluminum, copper, lead, nickel, zinc and used beverage can (UBC) scrap—slipped 5.6 percent year on year, according to the latest U.S. Commerce Department data. This marked the fourth consecutive month of year-on-year declines.

Aluminum scrap exports slipped 4 percent from April 2013 levels.

While offshore sales of the product to South Korea and Mexico rose 22.9 percent and 96.1 percent, respectively, to 18,129 short tons and 7,309 tons from 14,751 tons and 3,728 tons in the same month last year, it wasn’t enough to offset a decline in shipments to leading buyer China.

The Asian giant’s intake of U.S. aluminum scrap dropped 11.5 percent year on year to 87,888 tons from 99,359 tons.

Even aluminum UBCs saw depressed interest as April volumes fell 14.5 percent from a year earlier, while lead and zinc scrap deliveries dropped 16 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively.

Likewise, copper and brass scrap exports fell 8.6 percent in the same comparison as mild interest from China sent volumes down 16.8 percent to 54,876 tons from 65,924 tons in April 2013.

Nickel scrap was the sole metal to buck the trend, with exports rising 46.4 percent from April 2013 levels.

Nonferrous scrap exports also fell virtually across the board vs. the previous month, with zinc the only metal to defy the trend with a 21.6-percent rise from March.

Nonferrous scrap exports thus far this year have fallen 10.8 percent. The decline was led by a 10.7-percent drop in aluminum scrap shipments compared with January-to-April 2013 as Chinese buys fell 18.1 percent to 360,874 tons from 440,585 tons.

China also was the key driver of a 12.4-percent drop in exports of copper and brass scrap for the period, as the country’s intake of U.S. red metal scrap fell 18.2 percent to 241,886 tons from 295,675 tons in the first four months of last year.

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