US copper scrap exports increased by 22pc to 366,549mt in January-May from 301,217mt a year earlier on increasing demand from China.
Scrap exports in May stood at 84,509mt, up 44pc from 58,811mt in the same month of 2020 on surging volumes to China and Germany according to the US Census Bureau data. Still, imports from the North American region remained muted with Mexico being the only country to import around 2,468mt of copper scrap during the month.
Exports to China stood at 6,440mt in May. More than half of these shipments consisted of #2 copper, which has been the preferred grade for Chinese smelters following the new scrap specifications issued by the country in November 2020. In fact, the grade’s exports grew by 26pc in January-May to 48,718mt from 38,503mt a year earlier and by 58pc to 11,172mt in May from 7,058mt in the same month last year.
In May, exports to South Korea tallied at 1,362mt while Japan bought 1,071mt of copper scrap from the US. Germany was the largest European buyer for US copper scrap with 1,054mt exported to this destination.
Total bare bright copper scrap exports declined by 8pc to 27,052mt in January-May from 29,530mt on an annual basis but grew in May by 24pc to 5,992mt from 4,762mt in the same month last year. Exports of #1 copper fell by 4pc to 23,992mt in January-May from 25,030mt in the same period a year ago but increased by 37pc to 6,453mt in May against 4,701mt in the same month of 2020.
Refined copper exports in January-May increased by 75pc to 112,259mt against 64,204mt in the first five months of 2020 and more than doubled to 25,176mt in May from 11,682mt in the same period last year.
US copper scrap imports in January-May fell by 10pc to 44,500mt from 49,465mt on an annual basis. Imports in May, however, doubled to 9,671mt from 4,609mt in the same month last year, after refined copper imports increased almost 2.5 times during this period.