US copper scrap exports decreased by 35.7pc in April from a year earlier as countries across the world began shutting down their ports and borders to contain the spread of COVID-19.
In April, copper scrap exports stood at 53,367mt compared with 82,971mt during the same month last year. Exports for the red metal from the US also fell by 20.9pc during the first four months of 2020 to 242,405mt from 306,456mt during the same period last year, according to the latest trade data from the US Census Bureau.
Asian countries, especially in the Far-East, remained major importers of US copper scrap, with the highest volumes of shipments going to South Korea. The country imported 3,259mt of scrap, followed by China, which took in 3,074mt of copper scrap as its smelters reopened for business. Shipments to Malaysia totaled 1,081mt.
Only two European countries continued buying scrap from the US despite shutdowns. Germany imported 1,265mt, while 1,233mt of scrap was shipped to Belgium from the US.
Total bare bright copper scrap exports rose by 9.5pc to 6,082mt in April from 5,555mt a year earlier, with China importing around 2,254mt of the material in April 2020. In the first four months of the year, bare bright scrap exports rose by 38.1pc to 24,767mt compared to the previous year.
Exports of #1 and #2 copper fell by 38.5pc to 4,172mt and by 48.4pc to 5,428mt, respectively, during the same period. Through the first four months of the year, exports for both grades fell by 34.2pc and 20.6pc to 20,329mt and 31,444mt, respectively, compared to the first four months of 2019.
Exports of refined copper also fell by 37pc to 10,465mt in April from the same month last year, while red brass and yellow brass exports declined by 74.6pc and 57.7pc to 651mt and 2,284mt, respectively.
Other copper scrap exports fell by 31.7pc to 24,282mt in April from a year earlier. In the first four months of the year, other copper scrap exports decreased by 26.6pc to 94,771mt from the same period in 2019.
US copper scrap imports in April surged by 117.1pc to 23,656mt from a year earlier. Year-to-date imports rose by 12.3pc to 44,856mt.
Imports of other copper scrap comprised the bulk of April imports at 16,580mt, up by 104.9pc from a year earlier. Imports of refined copper scrap rose by 151.6pc to 7,176mt from a year earlier.