“China has been absorbing around 50% of the world’s copper scrap,” Barnes said. “The effect of the tightening legislation is big. People have been underestimating the impact of Chinese copper scrap consumption.”
In April 2018, China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment announced that the country would ban the import of 32 types of scrap materials, while a further ban on 16 types of additional scrap materials would be staggered across 2019.
Of note, restrictions on Category 7 copper – which is typically comprised of wires, cables and engine motors and often needs further processing before it reaches smelters – took effect in January 2019, while “smelter ready” Category 6 scrap is expected to be banned in July.
Since January, China’s scrap...