The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

July 13, 2012

Scrap metal prices coming down after extreme highs

OTTUMWA — Scrap metal prices have been climbing for a while, but that’s changed.

The price of scrap metal, including copper, has dropped recently. And prices are also lower for aluminum and other metals.

Earlier this year, copper had a good price, and everyone was willing to pick up items containing copper.

But now, appliances are $50 per ton instead of $15 per appliance. Lower prices for the seller make appliances less attractive to haul away.

Folks in dire straits are still picking up appliances and selling them to scrap metal businesses.

Janice Bain, director of the Ottumwa Recycling Center, said Thursday that the center still takes appliances.

“But at some point — I don’t know what — it won’t be worth it for the scrappers to take the items, which will keep coming back to the recycling center,” she said.

While it’s true the price is going down, that doesn’t mean the metal is valueless. It means the price is coming down to normal after being extremely high, according to Bain.

“At one time, China had a lot going on, and a lot of metal was going to China,” she said

Copper prices are better, and Tom Hull, president of Rosenman’s, Inc. of Ottumwa, considers the situation to be a cycle.

“And it might have something to do with the strengthening of the dollar against the euro, which is weak right now,” Hull said. “When we can’t export and we’re receiving imports, then we don’t use scrap, and that means more scrap in the states.”

Hull said copper is still at a high level, but not nearly as high as in January. On the London Metal Exchange, copper goes for about $3.40 per pound.

“Fair scrap prices are taking a beating, and ferrous prices are off 35-40 percent since the first of the year,” he said.

Copper and aluminum are non-ferrous, and the steels are ferrous. Hull said it’s basically magnetic vs. non-magnetic.

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