Investment and urbanization in western China is poised to increase both scrap generation and demand there.
Throughout China’s imported scrap boom of the past 15 years, the hotbeds of scrap buying, processing and melting have been concentrated in the nation’s major Pacific coast (east coast) cities and ports. A concentrated effort by China’s government and banks to rapidly industrialize and urbanize the nation’s interior is beginning to change that.
Speaking to delegates at the 2013 Annual Convention of the CMRA (China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association Recycling Metal Branch), Chen Demin, a professor at Chongqing University, provided an overview of the western region’s development as a growing manufacturing, scrap generating and scrap consuming center.
“Southwestern China will be a very important area for metals production and metal scrap, joining areas like the Pearl River Delta,” said Zhang Xizhong, deputy secretary general of the CMRA, when introducing Chen.
“The pace of growth is fast,” said Chen, with the nonferrous metals industry experiencing “active change” in cities like Chongqing as “industry rapidly moves east to west in China.”
Growth has been particularly fast since 2008, he added, with the Chongqing region now having 10 secondary nonferrous metals producers each with output of 300,000 metric tons per year or more.
The university professor said European scrap exporters are exploring their improved access to the southwestern China market via the freight rail line that runs from Antwerp, Belgium, to Chongqing that has opened up in the past two years.
Some of the opportunities in western China are counter-acted with challenges, noted Chen, including the presence of smelting production that is somewhat “backward” in terms of its pollution levels and energy consumption.
Despite some necessary upgrades, Chen said secondary smelter production “in the long run is environmentally friendly” compared to the mining and primary production processes.
As southwestern China’s secondary metals production grows, so too is its investment in resource parks designed to process and prepare nonferrous scrap. One such park is being “supported by the Chongqing municipal government” with a $490,000 investment, Chen noted.
Operators in this resource park are accepting scrap shipments from Europe via rail, said Chen, allowing them to grow significantly along with the region’s ability to produce secondary nonferrous metals.
The 2013 Annual Convention of the CMRA was Nov. 6-9 at the Chongqing International Convention & Exhibition Center in Chongqing, China.