The Price of Copper Is Always Surprising Us – 9/1/21




Prayers for Ida Victims 🙏

First things first: if you are reading this down in the Louisiana or Mississippi area, we hope and pray you’re doing okay. 

Can you believe that you just reported scrap prices before reading this? Neither can we, thanks! Now let’s get into some scrap talk and see what is going on in the scrap world.

The stock markets seem to be thinking that the world is never going to slow down and that we will have never-ending growth; it’s really scaring a lot of people. While the copper markets showed a sign of pullback this morning, overall, we have been pleased with the markets as a whole. 

Quick Numbers

  • $30-40 decline – U.S. Steel Scrap: Ahead of the September buy week, market sources expect prime scrap prices to decline $30-$40/light ton month over month (the 1st month over month drop in prime scrap grades in ~13 months), while shredded scrap prices are expected to decline $20/light ton month over month. (Source: SMU, AMM).
  • 40 vessels – Currently, somewhere around 40 vessels continue to be anchored and wait to be berthed in Los Angeles/Long Beach. This backlog of vessels is expected to continue through the end of the year.

Weekly Facebook Group Highlight

Summer’s coming to a close, and it got us thinking… What’s your favorite season to scrap in? If you’re a part of our Facebook group, Scrap Metal Recycling Talk, you can take the poll there. For those who aren’t, click on the photo below to contribute ⬇️

If you follow us on our Instagram, you would have seen this already, but look at this great show of skill from group member Jeff completing the #cratechallange or what we like to call #crushedaluminumcanchallenge 😂 should we make that a thing?


Featured Question

Question from Les Sweet: Do outside temperatures affect scales?

Do any yards have BBB approval?

Tom: “Temperatures above 115 degrees could mess up the scales, but the sensors are generally in very good shape.

Many yards have BBB approval, and you can research them online. “

Non-Ferrous Market News

A Nice Surprise From Copper 😌

With copper prices gaining from the big pullbacks we saw a short 12 days ago, quite frankly, we’re very surprised. We did not anticipate this quick turnaround in the markets, and we’re happy to report that they turned quickly from the levels that we saw a few short days ago. The optimism in the markets as a whole has been considerably better, and we have seen things picking up here in the US. Meanwhile, overseas news has been grim.

We have seen overseas backups in manufacturing due to COVID outbreaks in India and even China (even though they deny that there are active cases). Copper prices have pulled back slightly in today’s market, but as a whole, they are looking really good.

Aluminum has been the most talked-about metal over the last week, with large manufacturers, from Reynolds Aluminum Foil to many beers and soda manufacturers, complaining about the prices and the lack of supply. All of these problems could be solved if the U.S. could keep more metals inside of the country and rely on our own manufacturing. But alas, because the markets are so dependent on outside countries like China, we may not have the right supply chain answer….forever. 

Reported Non-Ferrous Scrap Prices (8/25 – 8/31):




Fresno, CA Yellow Brass $2.00 / lb
Rockaway, NJ #1 Bare Bright Copper Wire $3.70 / lb
Oklahoma City, OK #2/3 Copper Mix $3.00 / lb
Lombard, IL 300 Series Stainless Steel $0.55 / lb
Brooklyn, NY Compressors $0.25 / lb
Duncansville, PA Christmas Lights $0.05 / lb
Tucson, AZ Aluminum Cans $0.25 / lb
Albertville, AL Aluminum Siding $0.45 / lb
Dallas, TX #3 Roofing Copper  $2.80 / lb
Zanesville, OH #2 Copper Tubing  $2.80 / lb
Spartanburg, SC Brass Radiators $1.30 / lb
Calera, AL #1 Copper Tubing $3.00 / lb

Ferrous Market News

Patiently Waiting For Gas Prices To Decrease 🥲

With oil prices dropping in August, all eyes are looking at the OPEC meeting in the coming days. This meeting was meant to drive up the number of barrels pumped daily to help satisfy the worldwide demand. But with renewed COVID Delta concerns, there is a chance that we do not see an increase in the barrels that are pumped. This means that we will see continued high gas prices (not to mention the 20% of the US refining plants are shut down in the Gulf Coast) for the foreseeable future.

Suggested Reading: Why Do Oil Prices Affect Scrap Prices?

These gas and oil prices will drastically hurt steel pricing if they continue to increase, as the pricing of steel will continue to decline going into September. We heard that the markets would fall $30-40 per ton this month, and that may now hold true over the next few days. We have seen the mills inundated with material over the last month, and while August is traditionally a slower month for the mills as they shut down to service, this year was different, and the markets dictated that. Not to mention a lot of the plants shut down in 2020 and serviced or upgraded a lot of their equipment. 

Reported Ferrous Scrap Prices (8/25 – 8/31):




Lemont, IL Scrap Iron $215/ ton
Merrillville, IN Unprepared HMS $180/ ton
Christiansburg, VA Shreddable Steel $0.09/ lb
Tempe, AZ Scrap Iron $135 / ton
Jacksonville, FL Cast Iron $12.75 / CWT
Sumter, SC Shreddable Steel $0.08 / lb
Fort Worth, TX #1 Prepared $205 / ton
Shreveport, LA #1 Unprepared $9.50 / CWT
Springfield, MO Clean Auto Cast $285 / ton
Tulsa, OK #2 Prepared $190 / ton
Chattanooga, TN Shredder Tin  $6.00 / CWT

Other Metal Markets

Lead-acid battery prices have seen a nice uptick of $0.02-0.03 cents per pound, and that is considered a strong increase over the last few months of stagnant pricing. This market was and is getting impacted by all of the talks of the EV boom that is slated to come in the next few years. Recovery may be in sight within the coming months and years, as many companies are talking about continuing the gas-powered trucks and cars for a long time as well. 

Catalytic Converter Market News



Count Your Blessings ✨

Over the last few weeks, these markets have been slightly cooler, but we have seen the base PGMs staying strong. While the markets have definitely cooled down from the highs that we saw back in May 2021, consider this: we are still more than double in pricing from pre-Covid, not during the initial period either, and that is good news.

One thing that may be driving the pricing in the next few months is the talks about more hybrid vehicle production and not the pure EV markets like we have seen in the past. 

Scrap Catalytic Converter Prices This Week (8/25 – 8/31):

Cat Type/Serial Number


Foreign Honda O2 Slant  $583/@
Foreign Large $339/@
Domestic High Grade $307/@
Domestic Low $108 /@
LG Breaadloaf $175/@
Bead Jumbo $130/@


Thank You.

With the new version of the iScrap App out for download, we hope you check it out. With weekly videos about market news, analysis, and ideas, you will be able to learn and then make more money with your scrap. Make sure you post your prices through the app today. 

– Tom



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