Column: Malaysia deals fresh blow to global copper scrap trade



Andy Home | Reuters

More disruption is looming in the global copper scrap market.

This time it is Malaysia that is threatening to stop imports of lower-grade recyclable material.

The country has emerged as a major recycling hub for both copper and aluminium, processing and upgrading scrap into a form that can be imported into China.

China has since 2019 banned imports of complex material such as insulated copper wire and shredded motor scrap. It was going to ban all scrap imports this year but was persuaded by its domestic copper sector that eliminating such a key source of raw material was unwise.

New trade codes and a reclassification of higher-grade copper and brass scrap as “recyclable raw materials” have seen China’s copper scrap imports bounce back strongly this year.

However, the biggest supplier is Malaysia, which is now going down the same path as that trodden by China by proposing strict new rules on the sort of scrap it will allow to be imported.

Malaysia’s new import purity thresholds are due to come in at the end of this month.

The Malaysia Non-ferrous Metals Association (MNMA) has warned that the current proposals risk killing off the country’s growing scrap dismantling and processing sector.

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