Speakers at last week’s BIR conference in Munich outlined their concerns about the global metal market.
BIR ferrous division president Christian Rubach of TSR Recycling in Germany warned that Europe’s status as a free trade haven could come under threat from European Union rules.
He said: “There is an increasing number of voices in the different EU states and on the EU level in Brussels asking for export restrictions or at least export control and monitoring of scrap exports.”
This was despite there being a surplus of scrap of 20 to 30 million tonnes in the 27 EU nations, he added.
Van Dalen Recycling UK’s Tom Bird said that although prices had fallen, they hadn’t dropped “as low as some were forecasting”. Compared to the crisis of 2008, “our customers are more robust, more consolidated, and far more likely to continue to perform in a failing marketplace”.
While guest speaker Karl-Ulrich Köhler, managing director and chief executive of Tata Steel Europe expected global steel prices to remain high due to structural scarcity, but there would be regional volatility.
Metal theft was a huge issue discussed in the non-ferrous metals division. US company Alter Trading’s Robert Stein argued that high prices are conducive to “fraudulent swindles” and warned that BIR members should take every precaution in knowing who their trading partners might be.
Bianca Vicintin Abud of Tecal Aluminio Da Amazonia LTDA/Metalur Group in Brazil noted that although there had been few signs of the “widespread contract defaults, bogus claims or non-payment complaints that became all too typical during the downturn three years ago” that feedback from Western Europe showed that recent price declines had tempted buyers particularly in Asia and Eastern Europe to “launch quality and weight claims, eve raising the possibility of cancellations”.