This year is proving to be as difficult as 2020, but in many different ways: solid demand and supply of non-ferrous scrap in the first quarter, coupled with historically high LME prices, were then followed by a slowdown in both demand and supply owing to many factors. Inflation fears were a leading factor for investors. There has also been government interference as, for example, China has looked to play a role in slowing the continuous rise of LME prices. There has also been an increase in exchange stocks.
At present, the LME is at a steady level with not much volatility in evidence, especially on the copper side, whereas aluminium and lead are still achieving high levels with strong demand for both metals in recent weeks.
After the end of the month of Ramadan in May, markets steadied and supply calmed in the Middle East. High temperatures and scorching heat arrived early in the Gulf region, and this usually affects the supply side through a reduction in scrap collections and in outdoor operations.
Demand is quieter than usual in the Far East and also in India which has emerged from its recent upsurge in COVID cases. However, there are fears of further waves in many different regions around the world after the summer period, and possibly more lockdowns. The Delta variant is spreading rapidly across the map and creating havoc for countries which had been preparing for the busy travel and tourism season. The situation is escalating, with many full lockdowns already introduced in, for example, parts of the Far East and Australia.
Aboura Metals (ARE), Board Member of the BIR Non-Ferrous Metals Division