With the ongoing US-China trade war and soft demand for domestic market consumption, China reported 6.4% GDP growth for the first quarter of 2019 - the same as for the final quarter of 2018 and the lowest recorded since 2009. China’s non-ferrous production volumes increased 6.3% year on year in the first quarter, including 3.9% growth in primary aluminium output.
China Customs data indicate that copper scrap imports dropped more than 50% in March when compared to the same month last year. It is clear that the new licensing regime to be applied to Category 6 materials from July 1 will further impact China’s scrap imports, especially in the copper sector.
Smelters can apply for the new import licence from the second half of May, to be granted by the China Solid Waste and Chemical Management Center under the Ministry of Ecology and Environment. It is expected that smaller and unqualified operations will not obtain the new licence, while the number of new licences to be issued and quotas are not known as this point. By 2020, the aim is for zero solid waste imports into China.
Meanwhile, industries are working closely with related government branches on formulating the new standards for recycled copper, aluminium and other raw materials.
OmniSource Corporation (USA), Board Member of the BIR Non-Ferrous Metals Division