Ferrous pricing that sank in early summer rebounded in the last month as buyers and brokers from many parts of the world came back into the market.
As of late August, however, while the rebound in pricing had drawn out more scrap in much of North America, scrap recyclers in Europe continued to decry diminished volumes.
“Even with the [August] through-the-roof spike, I haven’t seen more material as the result,” says a scrap processor in the United Kingdom. “There is only part of the industry that is triggered by that, and that’s demolition, but it’s a lagging industry right now,” he comments. “Even that $100 per ton might not be enough to get more projects going.”
On the scrap generation side in the U.K., the processor says, “Auto sales in the U.K. are quite good, and things we build like Jaguars and Land Rovers have good export markets, so automotive production scrap is going quite well.”
He says, though, it’s one of the few bright spots. “It’s the only sector that’s really been running in the U.K. And [manufacturing] in Europe, except for Germany, is slow. People aren’t going out in Europe and buying new cars.”
Data collected by the Brussels-based Association des Constructeurs Europeens d’Automobiles (ACEA) confirms his observation. While northern European nations have been able to purchase automobiles at a rate equaling last year’s figures, in southern European nations like Spain and Italy, the declines are alarming. (See the chart on this page.)
Two different scrap recyclers cited turmoil at Indonesian customs points as having been a source of misery this summer. “It’s a terrible mess; the Indonesian embassy in the U.K. won’t even communicate with us anymore about it,” says the U.K. processor. “It’s a real problem and we’ll not export to there for a while for sure.”
A scrap metals broker based in Canada says he has relied on Indonesian consumers as an important market in the past few years but has now had to send extra people there to try and simply get shipments through the customs process.
Buyers in India remain a vigorous market for containerized ferrous scrap, say recyclers. “Buyers used to be more price-sensitive there, but now there is steady demand from India and they stay in the market,” says the U.K. processor.
The U.K. recycler predicts a healthy market in the early fall. “We’ll see more activity from export brokers—people are going to dredge around and look for business,” he comments. “That’s what will bring a $10 to $20 per ton rise in prices, I believe.”