Domestic non-ferrous scrap exporters had been bracing for the fall-off in volumes to China in the run-up to the Asian nation adopting aggressive restrictions on contaminants in scrap metal imports.
US copper scrap shipments to China totaled 45,492 short tons in January, down 23.8% from 59,672 tons in December and off 27.5% from the January 2017, according to US Commerce Department data. This represents the lowest shipment level to China since January 2009, when 41,595 tons were delivered to the nation.
Aluminium scrap exports to China also hit a nine-year low of 45,492 tons in January, down 31.9% from December and 16.5% below the year-earlier level.
“The cliff was coming, we just didn’t know when we’d see it. Volumes should come back a little bit in February - not much but by March I think we should see more of a recovery,” one US exporter source said.
Other exporters shared similar views,...