Shaky start for scrap metals in 2019

scrap metal

Base metals have had a shaky start to 2019, with a cautious first-quarter advance giving way to an April drop on uncertainty about the global economy and the impact Chinese stimulus will have on consumption.

Clouding the outlook are mixed signals on world growth. China’s first official gauge of the manufacturing sector fell in April, indicating that more may be needed to bed down the economic stabilization seen earlier this year. The euro area’s manufacturing slump showed tentative improvement, while data showed U.S. unemployment fell to a fresh 49-year low. Hanging over the market, though, is the question of when the U.S. and China will resolve their prolonged trade spat.

Growth prospects, as well as supply outlooks for the most-traded base metals, will be among topics discussed as traders, executives and financiers gather in Hong Kong for the annual LME Week Asia event. Here’s a summary of key discussion points:


Copper’s long-term appeal is a staple topic at LME gatherings (see here, here, and here). But the metal has failed to break out of a modest range since its slump in mid-2018, even as global mine supply tightens. Prices are often tied to the global macro mood, which has been soured by U.S.-China trade tensions and muted manufacturing activity.

In China, government stimulus has proved underwhelming so far, according to one of the nation’s top traders. Import premiums are waning and a high-profile trader’s financial woes are also weighing on sentiment. Barclays Plc predicts prices may end the year below $6,000 a ton, saying the macro backdrop still matters more than any supply issues. Still, copper bulls may take heart after Codelco said the downtrend in prices won’t last as consumption growth outstrips supply.


The key question in the market is whether China’s zinc smelters can process increasing global mine supply. Output constraints in the top producer — due to various disruptions and environmental strictures — have crimped their ability to do so. With treatment charges still at elevated levels, there’s growing expectations of a supply response from smelters that will pressure global prices. But not everyone is convinced.

“The economics of zinc are already telling smelters to produce as much as they can, and I don’t think that’s happening,” Colin Hamilton, managing director for commodities at BMO Capital Markets Ltd. said in a phone interview. “The question is, are we going to see them ramp up? If not, the zinc market has a problem because refined inventory is still very low”.


Last year was turbulent, with the market dominated by the prospect of U.S. sanctions on United Co. Rusal. With that episode resolved, attention has turned to more familiar concerns, especially Chinese capacity. Prices in London are broadly in line with where they started the year, constrained by weakness in demand and uncertainties around new Chinese plants.

Aluminum optimists point to dwindling stockpiles in China, greater restraint in permitting new capacity, as well as rising consumption. But some producers aren’t feeling so upbeat. China’s recent better-performing prices — crucial to setting the global tone — are “ unsustainable” given substantial capacity still waiting in the wings, Rusal warned in April.



Chinese market importing more copper in 2019 than 2018

The price of copper dipped on Monday despite trade data showing Chinese imports of refined copper rebounding in March while ore and concentrate shipments continue to strengthen.

Copper for delivery in May traded as low as $2.916 per pound ($6,430 a tonne) on the Comex market in New York, down from just shy of the $3.00 mark reached a fortnight ago.

China consumes half the world’s copper, and trade data released over the weekend showed the country’s imports of unwrought copper jumped 26.5% compared to the same month last year at 391kt.

For the first quarter, imports of refined copper are down 4.3% to 1.18mt however. Last year China imported a record 5.3m tonnes of refined copper.

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Metals in meltdown since Summer 2018


After a strong start to 2018 following a 22% rally last year, nickel’s fall has also been swift, with the metal mainly used in steelmaking down 30% from its summer highs. Zinc and lead have reversed most of their 2017 gains while tin is the only base metal with a shot at ending the year in positive territory. The London Metal Exchange index is set to suffer its first down year since 2015.

Copper producers have been the worst hit in the mining sector this year, with US-based Freeport-McMoRan declining 47% from its 2018 peak. Toronto’s First Quantum Minerals is trading 53% below its 52-week high. Peru-focused Southern Copper Corp has dropped 46% since the summer while the decline for London-listed Antofagasta is 36%.

Among the diversifieds, Rio Tinto is also in bear market territory, but BHP has fared better – containing share price decline to 10% compared to the counter’s year high. Like the Anglo-Australian giants, Brazil’s Vale – down 18% from its 2018 high – has benefited from a relatively strong iron ore price, comprising the bulk of earnings for mining’s Big 3.


Best Kept Secrets of Smart Copper Sellers

scrap copper

Sell Copper solids to the highest price

There are many different grades of copper and they have different prices. The best grade is known as the “M1” or “A1” grade which has a high value of about $7.80 to $8.10 per kg ( Oct, 2018) . M1 grades are clean copper strands that are larger than the pencil lead we use in school. 

Clean up

Always remove any kind of contaminants from your copper like paper, insulation, attachments and any other non copper items.  It may require a work from you but hard work does pay off!  Copper solids that have attachments or are not clean are accepted as well but they are known as 2nd grade copper and have a lower price than the best grade. It is best to check with your scrap vendor the value of both coppers to see if its worth the effort to clean up the copper! 

Strip copper wires

Stripping your copper wires gives you more money! However, it may not always be the case depending on your speed and how efficient are you in stripping down. Sometimes it is better to sell the insulated copper than to strip it. Do not attempt to strip the wires down using your bare hands as it is dangerous.

Separate wires by types

Separating the wires according to their types gives saves the work from the scrap yard and thus, in return you get more money! We have written a blog post on how to separate them. 

Work with someone you trust 

Develop a relationship with a dealer who has a good reputation, is well established in the scrap community, and is the most qualified to process your specific scrap. 

At Sin Hong Poh Metal Trading, we strive to be “The Choice” for your industrial metal scrap and recycling needs. We aim to do this by providing competitive pricing to help our customers increase their bottom line profitability and providing outstanding customer service. 

The value of scrap metal can change daily due to market price fluctuations and you can trust us to always offer you the most competitive price.

Where can I sell copper wires?

Sell Copper Wires

At Sin Hong Poh Metal Trading, we buy in all types of copper wires at high market price! This is becayse we believe in volume trading and long term business relationship with our customers. 

How do I get the most money out of my copper wires?

If you have not read our blog entry on the different types of household wires, we recommend you to do it now ! The number 1 rule in getting more money out of your scrap wires is to learn how to separate them according to their grades. 

Should I remove the insulation ?

Removing the insulation to retrieve the copper must be done with personal safety equipment like hand gloves. If you are able to strip the wires down to the copper, it is definitely going to give you a higher return per kg. 

What kinds of Scrap Wires has more value?

In general, the bigger the copper in ratio to its insulation, the higher the value of the wire. 

Profitable side business

Collecting and recycling scrap wires can be a profitable side business given how much electronic waste there is in Singapore. Furthermore, a recent article by straits times shows that most Singapore are unaware of how to recycle, A short walk around any HDB neighborhood should give you a good chance to salvage a few kilograms of scrap meals and wires.  

For the best price, bring your scrap down to Sin Hong Poh Metal Trading. We offer the most competitive price for all types of scrap metal, wires and others.  Have a question to ask? Leave a comment below or contact us today for more information!

sell scrap wires
sell scrap wires