SHANGHAI, Jun 24 (SMM) – China’s imports of copper scrap in May, standing at 170,000 mt, expanded some 20% year on year in terms of Cu content, but declined 16.7% in physical volumes, according to SMM calculations based on data from China Customs released over the weekend.
Customs data also showed that China imported 380,000 mt of metal scrap last month, up 8.6% from April, but down 26.9% from May 2018.
This brought imports of metal scarp in the first five months of the year to 1.46 million mt, down 40.7% from the same period last year.
Imports of copper scrap in January-May came in at 680,000 mt, down 27.9% from a year ago. This, however, equated to an increase of some 50,000 mt in Cu content.
The ban on imports of Category-7 materials that began from the start of this year and the rush to import Category-6 materials before restrictions kick in from July accounted for the divergence in import volumes in terms of physical tonnes and Cu content.
Some 240,429 mt of copper scrap received the green light for import into China in the third quarter, according to the 9th batch of approvals for restricted solid scrap imports released by the solid waste management centre of China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) on Thursday June 20.
This is expected to have limited impact on imports of Category-6 copper scrap in the quarter ended September 2019, but lower imports of Category-7 materials by 60,000 mt in Cu content.
Imports of Category-7 copper scrap are estimated to shrink 131,000 mt in Cu content throughout 2019.
Copper scrap import quota for the third quarter is unlikely to significantly impact production at domestic plants, but uncertainty lingers over the fourth quarter.