The initial list of third quarter scrap import quotas was released by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment’s Solid Waste and Chemicals Management Center in the second half of June and was enforced on July 1. This featured 240,429 tons of copper scrap and 54,256 tons of aluminium scrap, along with 14,968 tons of ferrous scrap. Consumers with new quota allowances are mainly from the Ningbo area.
A further batch of quotas allowing an additional 124,450 tons of copper scrap imports in the third quarter was released towards the middle of July, with most of the importers located in Guangdong, Zhejiang and Tianjin. Quota releases for a few other provinces are still pending.
Despite the overall downtrend in the country’s scrap imports owing to the ongoing China-US trade war, data show that aluminium scrap imports increased by more than 15% month on month in May. Many believe this is due to new import licences and quota pressure, with a large number of end users trying to stock up ahead of the new policy coming into force on July 1.
For copper scrap, data reveal that physical import volumes dropped by more than 25% year on year in the first five months of 2019 whereas units of copper content actually increased over the same period of time. This is thanks in part to the Category 7 ban from the beginning of this year which completely changed traditional Chinese scrap imports.
China has announced US$ 3.1 billion of investments in waste separation and treatment. Shanghai is the first test city and, under a new regulation entering force at the beginning of July, household waste is required to be sorted. Residents are subject to fines if they fail to follow the new waste management rules.
OmniSource Corporation (USA), Board Member of the BIR Non-Ferrous Metals Division