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Expensive copper could be replaced by plastic

The heady prices that have been gained for certain grades of copper in the last few months could have an adverse effect on the materials standing.

While a shortage of types such as dry bright wire and greasy bright wire have led to the commodity trading at unprecedented levels, evidence from the USA suggests that this may impact heavily on its attractiveness to buyers.

On the other side of the Atlantic, huge rises in the worth of the metal has seen tube makers replace it with plastic for a lot of their manufacturing needs. This has led to a massive 30% drop in demand and the majority of copper scrap is now being exported.

Alter Trading vice president of non-ferrous marketing Robert Stein said: It goes without saying that if this is happening in the USA, it will happen in the UK as well. Where there is the technology to replace copper with cheaper materials, manufacturers will invariably turn to the commodity that represents the best value to them.

Sky-high prices in the UK have led to heightened security alerts with types of copper providing the most attractive game for thieves. But evidence suggests that all metals must have their ceiling.

If the technology is available and manufacturers do start feeling prices have risen too high, the situation in the USA could replicate itself here.

Merchants could then find themselves in a strange position where they have a supply of a material that is extremely valuable, but with no outlet for it

Then, like in the USA, they may have no choice but to turn to markets in the far east.

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