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Middle East

It has been an eventful year so far for the base metals and the non-ferrous markets in particular. LME copper prices have reached all-time-high, five-digit levels, doubling in value since last year amid a big shift from fears of global recession to an aggressive and bullish economic recovery, including concerted demand for the metal with increased moves towards green energy and recycling. Other metals have followed copper’s lead as a result of this global manufacturing recovery, creating what is currently a commodity super-cycle.

Strong economic data from the USA, Japan and Europe have helped this upsurge, with more demand for green recycling and secondary metals use in production adding to supply disruptions on the copper side in particular. The tight copper market and lower inventories could send the price even higher, with predictions of a possible US$ 13,000 per tonne in the near term.

Amid this global recovery and increased demand for metals, the Middle East has seen more scrap being offered and exported from the region.

As regards COVID, India is dominating the headlines with its recent surge to well over 24 million cases, leading to more travel restrictions and lockdowns across major cities. Its demand for scrap came to an almost complete stop, thus slowing metal movements from the Middle East to India - a major buyer of our region’s non-ferrous scrap.

In the Middle East itself, the COVID situation varies from country to country. The vaccination programme in the GCC is progressing rapidly and there is more easing of restrictions, whereas the situation remains unchanged regarding new cases in the northern countries amid a slow inoculation campaign. The month of Ramadan has ended with strict measures across the region in order to limit the number of new infections. Early curfews to fight the spread of the virus coupled with the usual shorter working hours during the holy month had resulted in a slower movement of metals for scrap yards in most countries.