In for a rough ride

2015 was not a good year for the non-ferrous metals industry. This fact was the topic of discussion on several occasions, especially at the BIR conference in Prague last autumn. The question constantly asked was: How low can it get? Many suspect that 2016 could bring a new definition of low.
Marlies Schwarzin,

As David Chiao, President of the BIR‘s non-ferrous metals division, points out in the recent BIR world mirror on non-ferrous metals: „The start of 2016 was very disappointing, but somehow expected“, which means expectations are already low. He also mentioned that, unlike many other countries, although the US economy performed well in 2015, it is already showing signs of renewed weakness. Andy Wahl of TAV Holdings calls it a roller-coaster ride, „ending fortunately on the way back up with rising oil and commodities prices“. He agrees that the start to 2016 has been weak and said „it looked like déjà vu, as markets tumbled for several days in a row. He expects a „long, rough ride in the months ahead“.

China is the country with the biggest influence on the market, as many companies have found out within the last month. Shen Dong of Omnisource Corporation explains that the Chinese government is working on reducing overproduction and overcapacity, including in the iron, steel and coal industries. It plans to set maximum production limits based on market demand. According to Dong, the government also plans on closing out-dated facilities that do not meet safety, energy consumption and environmental standards. The largest copper smelters have already agreed to cut sales by 200,000 tonnes in the first quarter of this year. Dong expects markets to be reluctant in view of current market conditions and weak demand. That view conforms with reports from Ma Hongchang a regional recycling expert. According to him, a spokesman for the general administration of customs called the trade last year „difficult and complicated“. He does not expect any changes in 2016.


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