SHANGHAI, Apr. 27 (SMM) – China’s scrap copper imports dropped 10.53% on the year in Q1 2015 to 781,200 tonnes, Customs reported, matching SMM forecasts. The import volumes in March alone were 287,700 tonnes, falling by 5.21% from a year ago.
The spread between bare bright and refined copper widened to 971 yuan per tonne in March from February’s 809 yuan. However, downstream production has recovered slowly and some secondary copper producers trimmed their scrap copper consumption ratios, dampening trading in scrap.
"Many secondary copper makers currently prefer blister to scrap as its processing charges remained high around 1,400 yuan per tonne through Q1," SMM analyst Ye Jianhua said.
Moreover, global economic slowdown has undermined scrap copper recycling, and the resultant tighter supply enabled many scrap yards to hold prices firm. This has left Chinese importers with little to no margin on scrap imports, also impairing China's scrap imports.
Customs data show that scrap imports from the US and Europe – China’s top suppliers – are down YoY.
SMM expects scrap copper import volumes to climb back to 330,000 tonnes for April on rising copper prices and a renewed pickup in Chinese consumption.
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