At the time of writing, vaccination coverage remains low in the post-Soviet countries: the proportions of the population to have received a vaccine are 3.2% in Russia, 0.2% in Belarus and less than 0.1% in Ukraine. The COVAX platform is to distribute 2 billion vaccine doses worldwide by the end of this year and is to provide 2 million doses to Ukraine to assist the roll-out.
Public hesitancy around vaccination was already very noticeable in the region, and this reluctance is expected to grow even stronger as countries halt the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine amid reports of side-effects.
In Poland, a daily average of 45,647 doses have been administered throughout the country to date, and 26% of the adult population is on course to have been vaccinated by this summer - far short of the European Commission’s stated aim of 70%. The Polish government has also introduced a rule whereby people with a vaccination certificate are allowed to enter the country without additional restrictions.
COVID restrictions in Poland still prohibit offline exhibitions and trade shows whereas the Russian government has allowed the cable industry exhibition to be held in March - the first offline metal industry event in the region since the start of the pandemic.
As for the metals markets, recent high-flyer copper has exceeded the US$ 9000 per tonne threshold and has been keeping market participants glued to their LME screens; many are calling copper the new bitcoin. Demand is strong and, as reported by Polish copper producer KGHM, is expected to go even higher as a result of green energy and electromobility projects. Poland has announced plans to invest a total of Euro 240 billion in restructuring the energy industry to move away from coal and towards renewable alternatives.
Russia’s brass market is facing major scrap disruption: a long winter has led to reduced street collections and smaller scrap collectors are taking advantage of the higher LME values holding material prices at record levels.
TRM Group (BLR), Board Member of the BIR Non-Ferrous Metals Division