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World scrap metal market is "buoyant"

The world market for scrap steel appears buoyant and looks set for further increase according to speakers at the British Metal Recycling Association’s (BMRAs) annual meeting.

It was noted that electric arc furnace steelmaking- the main market for ferrous scrap- has been growing at around 5% per annum over the past ten years and in 2005 world production topped 360 million tonnes. This figure represents 32% of global steel output.

Iron and Steel Statistics Bureau operation director Steve Mackrell said: “2006 could be a record year, with UK exports higher than the record 7.2 million tonnes exported in 2003.”

While the UK is currently the fifth largest exporting country for ferrous scrap, behind the USA, Russia, Japan and Germany, non-ferrous metals are also experiencing heady times.

Suggesting that recent trading had possibly seen the best five months in non-ferrous scrap history, Mountstar Metal Corporation managing director Michael Oppenheimer said: “While India has been a very important market for some years now, it is Chinese demand that is supporting the high volumes we are experiencing at present.”

BMRA director general Lindsay Millington said: “Market prospects are looking good for our industry. But buoyant markets can also bring problems. Credit insurance limits are not keeping pace with higher prices; while increased cash handling means our members have greater exposure to currency fluctuations.

“The recent Bureau of International Recycling conference in Beijing indicated that these are worldwide problems, restricting the volumes that traders can handle, at a time when purchasing volumes are at record level.”

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