China’s manufacturing industry has recovered faster and better from the effects of the coronavirus crisis than in any other country in the world. This, among other things, led to an increase in demand for certain industrial metals such as copper and aluminium. And also to the increase in their price.
The manufacturing industry of the world’s most populous country was literally hungry for copper and aluminum in the second half of last year. However, due to quarantine measures in traditional supply countries such as Peru, there were not enough of these metals on the market. While China previously relied on the processing of aluminum and copper scrap, last year it imported this secondary raw material from at least 2016.
This is largely the result of President Xi Jinping’s four-year-old declaration of war on waste imports. On this basis, the import of solid waste was to be completely reset by the end of 2020. However, this did not happen, yet imports of aluminium or copper scrap have fallen by two thirds since 2018. Instead, China imported record volumes of raw aluminum and refined copper last year. In the case of copper, there was a year-on-year increase of 275 percent.
According to analysts, however, China will reconsider its view of importing scrap metal for price reasons. It realizes that it is a well-recyclable raw material. But the problem for China is that countries from which China used to import scrap metal are thinking similarly.