How Scrap Is Being Affected from Coronavirus – 1/29/20

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Jump To Ferrous Prices

Good Day Scrappers!

Talk about a change over a two week period. We have seen some crazy price swings over the last eight trading days and they were all due to this outbreak of the coronavirus in China. We’ve seen the copper market drop $0.25 per pound and it took the rug out from all scrappers feeds very quickly.

If you look at a recap from the month of January, you will see so many different stories from the United States finally making a trade deal and signing it with the Chinese and having the trade deal between United States, Mexico and Canada getting signed either today or tomorrow, you think that we would’ve had an excellent reporting month and copper would have stayed the same or increased, but that was not to be seen.

The outbreak of this virus in China and then spread to many countries with the deaths of hundreds of people in China, along with thousands being sick has scared US investors, as well as global investors and that has shaken the metal markets as well.


Quick Numbers

  • 85% – The amount of demand for Rhodium in the auto sector is huge and accounts for 85% of the overall Rhodium demand worldwide. 
  • $10,100 – The record price of Rhodium back in 2008- today’s price? $9,550 per ounce. Good for cat prices…
  • – $0.25 per lb – The drop in copper prices over the last 4 trading days (yuck)

Social Scrap from Our Facebook Group

Grandma always said that there are no such things as dumb questions and this week we see a GREAT question from iScrapper Dave P. When we see information asked about things that people don’t know about it is always great to ask questions and learn good solid answers. This way we are able to help teach and learn about material – what is what and we grow from there.


Non-Ferrous Market News

Copper Is Dropping Fast

Two weeks ago we were celebrating the newly ratified trade deal between the United States and the Chinese. Here we are two weeks later with no major political news, nothing happening in the different minds inside of the world, yet we have a $0.25 drop in copper prices due to the overwhelming and justified fear of the coronavirus outbreak happening so quickly in China. People always ask us about different factors that could hurt the US economy and affect copper prices.

Often we tell them the basics about political unrest, shortages in the industry, as well as strikes at some of the many global mining operations that are out there. One thing that we have not talked about over the last few years is the possibility of outbreaks of viruses, that not only kill people, threaten production and shake up the world economy. On Monday, we saw the stock market drop over 400 points due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak and the possible spread that it could have from China over to the US. We also saw copper drop over $0.11 in one trading session and as of this moment writing this, we have not seen one penny back into the copper prices.

It seems like every year there are between one and five major price swings that hit. You could compare it to extreme cold hitting the North-East for a couple days at a time, where you know that it’s coming but you just don’t know when and this is what’s happening with the copper market. Now it took a negative swing, but we’ve also seen positive swings happen in lieu of negative swings, once things get contained and answers become clear. We expect a recovery in this copper market and yes it might not be immediate as in the next day or two, but it should not take months to recover this; unless this outbreak continues over that time.

Reported Non-Ferrous Scrap Prices (1/22 – 1/28):




Manassas, VA Brass $1.20 / lb
Rockaway, NJ #1 Bare Bright Copper Wire $2.25 / lb
Reno, NV Stainless Steel $0.30 / lb
Ponderay. ID Romex® Wire $0.40 / lb
Warner, GA #1 Copper Tubing $1.90 / lb
Butte, MT #2 Copper Tubing $1.10 / lb
Racine, WI Sheet Aluminum $0.30 / lb
Wichita, KS Communications Wire $0.74 / lb
Bowling Green, KY AL Extrusion $0.43 / lb
Marlborough, NH Lead $0.30 / lb
Gillette, WY Insulated Copper Wire $0.40 / lb
Utica, NY Catalytic Converters $35.00 / @

Ferrous Market News

Steel Is Dropping, Not As Fast

We have seen the iron and the steel market decreasing over the last week and going into the first week of February (next week) another $10 per ton. After the nice increasing, we saw for about three months having a decrease happen isn’t a complete surprise, as we heard news from different bills and larger Scrap processing facilities that they got a lot of material in with the increase in prices that came about. Now, the iron markets are not being affected nearly as much as the copper markets are, but we won’t be surprised to see the decrease in the markets that were supposed to be $10 in February go as high as $20 per ton going into the month.

These are very difficult scrap situations to try and navigate and get our head around, it seems like so many things have been thrown at us in the last few years, it’s hard to figure out where this market is going to be going. While we know where it is today, in a relatively strong US economy we have seen job growth and wage raises, we have not seen the steel prices reflect in some of the other positive up-trends that we have seen in the US markets.

Reported Ferrous Scrap Prices (1/22 – 1/28):




Joplin, MO Shreddable Steel $75 /ton
Pocatello, ID Cast Iron $35 /ton
Billings, MT #1 Steel $90 /ton
Elmsford, NY Light Iron $40 /ton
Hutchinson, KS Shreddable Steel $80 /ton
Wichita Falls, TX Scrap Iron $115 /ton
Lorain, OH #1 Steel $100 /ton
Aiken, SC Cast Iron $60 /ton
Spokane, WA Light Iron $50 /ton
Greenbay, WI #1 Prepared $190 /ton
Kalamazoo, MI Shreddable Steel $100 /ton

Other Markets

Catalytic converter market has continued to be strong, but if you’re looking for prices on your catalytic converters you can always go to and upload your photos or text them to be able to get a quick response. We have seen the rhodium, palladium, and platinum continuing to be very strong and while we have not seen platinum stay above that $1,000 per ounce, we have seen rhodium approaching $10,000 per ounce which would be near record highs from back in 2008. 

The aluminum markets have continued to be very weak, it’s not as weak as they’ve been in 10 to 12 years. We have not seen any positive sides of aluminum price growth and a lot of this is due to the tariffs that are in place in other countries outside that produce aluminum and want to ship to the United States.

Thank You.

We hope that everyone has been staying busy and have been able to learn about some of the market trends through our recordings that we have week to week.  We look forward to your questions and your comments and your stories because they help give us different ideas on how to help you make more money with your scrap metal.  If there’s anything that we can add to our weekly report to share with you, don’t hesitate to let us know. Until next week, we will scrap you later.

– Tom

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