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  • BIR World Mirror on Non-Ferrous Metals– Issue March 2024: Transportation issues continuing to impede movements of material
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BIR World Mirror on Non-Ferrous Metals– Issue March 2024: Transportation issues continuing to impede movements of material

  • 20 March 2024

Entête non ferrous

A concise summary of the BIR World Mirror on Non-Ferrous Metals – Issue March 2024. Full version with detailed market reports available in the Members Only section of the BIR website.

Costs, material availability and transportation headaches are topping the list of recyclers’ concerns at present, according to reports submitted from around the globe to the BIR recycling organization’s latest World Mirror on Non-Ferrous Metals.

From India’s aluminium market, it is stated that imported scrap has become expensive owing to high freight rates relating to the crisis in the Red Sea, with shipments continuing to be at risk of significant delays. The same issue has also impacted scrap supply in Pakistan through a higher logistics and financing burden, with delivery times typically almost 2.5 times longer than normal. In South East Asia, meanwhile, the disruption has compelled businesses to make strategic adjustments, such as implementing shifts in purchasing strategies to accommodate low supply conditions.

In the Middle East itself, the situation in the Red Sea has led to shortages of scrap and challenges for businesses in managing inventory. Other impacts on recyclers have included higher insurance premiums and security-related expenses.

Also on the theme of transportation issues hindering material flows, there has been a resurgence of border blockages affecting trucks leaving Ukraine for Poland, with transport companies reporting that the booking of a time slot for crossing the border can take as long as three or four weeks.

In Mexico, meanwhile, Congress is considering measures which could lead to further steep increases in labour costs through enhanced paternity leave and Christmas bonuses as well as a significant shortening of the working week. The country’s recycling industry is relatively labour-intensive and still relies on medium- and small-sized yard operations that do not have the capital to invest in the technology needed to replace labour, it is pointed out.  

In terms of non-ferrous scrap market conditions, availability is widely described as constrained, although feedback from the Nordic Countries suggests slightly more material has been entering yards of late. The same source also identifies a surge in prices for copper-based materials, with many buyers competing for the same tonnages. In the Benelux, the recent jump in the copper market has boosted availability and demand is said to be strong locally as well for export.

With the construction and manufacturing sectors remaining weak, non-ferrous scrap remains available to merchants - but not in the volumes they were once seeing, it is noted from the UK. From Portugal and Spain, it is contended that prices for most grades are being driven by market shortages and that any pick-up in demand from end-users would have a significant impact.

Across in the USA, availability of some aluminium scrap grades is said to be very tight. Meanwhile, two of the large greenfield aluminium mill developments announced in the last couple of years have warned of significant cost overruns, although the expansions are still moving ahead. In Canada, meanwhile, metals availability is failing to match the pace of requirements.

As ever, the health of major economıes has a major bearıng on sentıment and overall growth prospects. In this context, China’s Premier Li Qiang has announced a 5% growth goal for 2024 while India has maintained its position as the world’s fastest-growing major economy, growing 8.4% when comparing the final quarter of 2023 with the same period in 2022.

Read all international market reports

With contributions from its members, BIR publishes periodical commodity reports under the label "BIR World Mirror". These detailed reports exist for Non-Ferrous MetalsFerrousStainless Steel / AlloysPaperPlastics and Latin America and provide BIR members with up-to-date information on the respective commodity or market segment.

The report on Non-Ferrous Metals appears once every two months, whereas Ferrous, Stainless Steel, Paper and Plastics are published quarterly. Latin America is covered twice per year.