Scrap metal prices reach all-time high, dealers buying all they can get

Most recycled metals in Finland go back into the domestic market, but some are shipped off to Asia and the Middle East.

Tapio Kivineva, a businessman from Köyliö, delivered a load of scrap metal to Eurajoki on a cold first day of December. Image: Tapio Termonen / Yle

The price of scrap metal is currently higher than ever, according to Juuso Luodesmeri, whose company Eurajoen Romu has a 25-hectare scrapyard filled with bicycle frames, cars and old sinks.

Located in Eurajoki, Satakunta, in Western Finland, it is the largest operation of its kind in the country.

"There's traffic in and out of here all the time. Big factory company lorries, people with trailers," Luodesmeri says.

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Approximately 150 thousand tonnes of scrap metal pass through the Eurajoen Romu site every year. Image: Tapio Termonen / Yle

Factories and technology

A massive amount of metal passes through the Eurajoen Romu scrapyard every year, up to 150 thousand tonnes.

Where exactly does the metal come from?

"Quite a lot of old technology and factories are being dismantled at the moment. A fair amount comes in from recycling collection, too," Juuso Luodesmeri explains.

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Both companies and private individuals drop off scrap. Any kind of metal is suitable, because the yard can sort different metals with high precision. Image: Tapio Termonen / Yle

Various metals, such as aluminium and copper, are sorted out from the scrap. While the end product is sent off mainly to the domestic market for processing, there are relative few metal refineries in Finland.

"Domestic needs come first. Then the metals are shipped to the Far Eastern market and from the Port of Rauma to Turkey," Luodesmeri says.

China and Turkey are the world's most important markets for scrap metals.

"In practice, the Turkish market determines the price level in Europe," Luodesmeri explains.

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The end product is fine-grained crushed metal that is sold domestic industries, the Asian market and Turkish steel mills. Image: Tapio Termonen / Yle

Prices bouncing back

When the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic hit, stock markets and commodity prices plummeted, but are now on the rise.

"Price fluctuations are very sudden. I don't know that the price of the metal would have ever been so high before," Juuso Luodesmeri points out.

According to Luodesmeri, the prices are being affected by a construction boom in the United States.

"During the lockdown, production stopped, but now it has restarted and the stock markets have also been on the rise. This has affected the price of the metals."