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The Latest Metal Supply News

As usual the metal supply sector is buzzing with news, some good and some not so good.

Australia calling for ban on combustible aluminium panels

First off, the Australian Senate is calling for a country-wide ban on the use of combustible aluminium panels “as a matter of urgency” following London’s Grenfell Tower disaster.

In light of the tragedy, the Australian Senate committee thinks there’s no reason for polyethylene core aluminium composite panels to be used on any type of building, since there are several safe, non-flammable and fire-retardant alternatives available.

China’s aluminium prices hit a six year high

The price of aluminium in China has hit a six year high as industry experts predict limited production capacity designed to prevent over-supply and fight the country’s famously poor air quality. The tonne rate for the metal rose 3.2% recently, the highest closing price for an impressive five years and ten months.

The authorities in northern China have promised to cut capacity in an effort to reduce air pollution, following an announcement in August by the world’s biggest aluminium maker China Hongqiao. They confirmed plans to cut their annual capacity down to less than a third after a scandal concerning a related company’s misconduct in the construction of five plants. As a result experts believe demand will soon exceed supply, and aluminium prices will rise. According to JP Morgan analysts’s, prices could rocket as much as $100 per tonne in the last quarter of 2017.

New National Shipbuilding Strategy lets down British Steel

When Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon unveiled the new National Shipbuilding Strategy, British Steel was dismayed to find it didn’t include a promises to use home-grown steel for the first planned batch of £250 million Type 31e frigates. It’s the latest in a string of let-downs where cheap foreign imports have been chosen instead of steel made in the UK. And supporters of our steel industry are demanding to know why.

The strategy proposes that the Government will forecast steel requirements for shipbuilding to allow suppliers enough time to supply suitable products, and stresses that they’ll “work hard to ensure that where we can, we source British steel”. At the same time one senior MoD source told the Daily Mail, “We will build these warships in the UK and wherever we practically can, we will buy British steel.”

Last year 4000 tonnes of steel earmarked for Royal Feet Auxiliary refuelling tankers was bought from South Korea. 4500 tonnes of the 82,000 tonnes used to build our two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers were bought in from Turkey, and 500 tonnes from Spain.

Cape Town’s metal theft unit gets a boost

As aluminium stockists, brass sheet suppliers and carbon steel suppliers, we know how valuable metals are. So valuable, in fact, that in Cape Town there’s a dedicated Metal Theft Unit created to help stop rampant theft of metals. They’re affectionately known as the Copperheads, and they have confiscated over two tons of stolen overhead copper cabling since midsummer 2017.

Now local law enforcement experts have been given the power to enforce the nation’s Second-Hand Goods Act, which was previously only enforceable by the South African Police Service. It means the Copperheads can use search warrants on properties, seize goods and close down the premises where scrap dealers sell stolen metals.

It matters because cable theft is a particularly big issue in South Africa. In the first six months of 2017 alone the Copperheads inspected 7870 or so scrap yards, made 33 arrests and confiscated 139kg of brass, 21kg of heavy steel and 172m of copper street lighting cable.

Steel’s excellent sustainable credentials make it the best framing solution

According to BD Online, ( a recent survey revealed that more than two thirds of Britain’s non-domestic multi-storey buildings have frames made from structural steel, making it the most popular framing material in the nation. Better still, many of these buildings are achieving impressive sustainability ratings and hitting tough sustainability targets with ease.

Steel’s sustainability credentials are excellent, including the off-site manufacturing process, which is faster and leaner than traditional site-based construction. The metal’s famous flexibility and adaptability are a big plus, as is its great performance regarding embodied carbon, the fact that it can be re-used and recycled multiple times, and its relative affordability.

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