The international prices paid for most metals are a result of two factors;
- How much stock is being held and
- How much the buyer is prepared to pay.
Over the past four years there has been a relatively subdued market for most non-ferrous scrap metals.
The big miners had a near death experience in the very savage price rout of the 2014 – 2016 period. These miners focused on reducing debt rather than investing in new projects. Across the sector capital expenditure fell to US$38 billion from a peak of US$77 billion in 2012. This year spending has drifted up to US$43 billion however most of this is in plant/mine maintenance and not new project development.
Warehousing of metal products provides a back up supply where warehousing is provided both by traders and stocks held by manufactures. As output has dropped off warehousing stock for most non-ferrous stocks have dropped.
For now, employing warehouses are providing a boost for metal markets that have also been aided by a cooling off of the China – US trade tensions. Cooper has gained 10% this year to be at an eight-month high, where zinc has gained 11% and Nickle – a notoriously violable metal is up 20% in the year.