n° 171 – March 2021

The upward trend in non-ferrous metal prices seen last year has continued into 2021. Copper touched 70,000 yuan per tonne on the Shanghai exchange at one stage and some experts believe the red metal could rise as high as US$ 10,000 per tonne on the LME in the first half of this year, not least because leading copper producers Chile and Peru have suffered production and transportation problems as a result of the pandemic. At the same time, there has been a recovery in demand from downstream enterprises and overseas orders have remained strong.

In general, non-ferrous metal prices have risen by more than 30%, with copper climbing 38%, aluminium 37%, and lead and zinc 48%. With upstream raw material prices rising strongly, downstream companies have been deeply affected and will surely look to pass on increases to consumers. The development of the Chinese economy and of its manufacturing industry are founded on metal raw materials, and stabilizing prices is the duty of relevant government departments.

Recently, the National Non-ferrous Metals Standardization Technical Committee held a working meeting on three light metal standards and reviewed the following drafts: “Recycled deformed aluminium alloy raw materials”, “Recycled pure aluminium raw materials” and “Recycled aluminium”. The meeting gave full consideration to port inspections and the needs of enterprises for the grading and utilization of raw materials, and also revised the classification and requirements of raw material standards, test methods, inspection rules and other technical content. The guiding principles were strictly preventing the entry of solid waste and guaranteeing the importation of high-quality raw materials, as well as creating conditions for production of recycled aluminium products to follow a green, low-carbon and sustainable development path. The hope is that these standards will be published shortly.

Representatives from customs’ technical centres in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Ningbo, Nanjing, Qingdao and Fangchenggang recently met recycled copper and aluminium producers, consumer and traders to discuss problems surrounding imports of recycled copper and aluminium since the relevant announcement was published. It was agreed that recycled raw materials should be clean and high-quality raw materials that have been sorted and processed - a fundamental difference from past waste materials. This needs to be clarified in the subsequent standard formulation and revision process. It has been recommended that the National Non-ferrous Metals Standardization Technical Committee should organize efforts to compile “Guidelines for the implementation of the standards for recycled copper and recycled aluminium raw materials” as soon as possible in order to unify the implementation standards of various customs and other regulatory agencies from the technical level, as well as the understanding of users and traders.

Ma Hongchang - Ma Hongchang ()

Ma Hongchang

Regional recycling expert (CHN), provides BIR with a regular update on policy and regulatory developments in China. The following is based on his latest report.


n° 171 – March 2021