Copper and copper alloy ingot production and trade form the foundation blocks for important specialty metal fabrication industries even though they are not large in volume compared with other copper products.
Many nonferrous foundries, brass mills, steel mills and other parts of the world’s manufacturing industry are dependent on the special alloys produced by these essential-processing plants. It is important to put this industry in world perspective because the ingot makers and associated foundries of the world are heavily reliant on scrap, especially the scrap from returned manufactured and used products.
The United States is a world leading producer of copper and copper alloy ingots and foundry products from scrap. The United States produced 254,000 tons (23%) of world nonferrous foundry products in 2002, but only 290,300 tons in 2008, about 11% of world total. In 2008, Italy (5.5%), Japan 5.5%) and Germany (5.2%) are also significant producers of nonferrous foundry products. China (33%) has increased foundry production significantly since 1999, producing more than 600,000 tons per year by 2008.
The United States produced 27% of the total world ingot production in 2008. Nearly 80% of the world‘s alloy ingot production, of around 436,400 tons per year in 2008, was exported. The ICSG Copper Bulletin reported world ingot imports at 304,000 tons and exports were 349,000 tons in 2008. During 2009, China (24%), Germany (17%), Italy (4%), Canada (2.2%), and France (3.6%) were the largest importers of ingot. China has increased its imports of ingots from around 82,000 tons in 2003 to 72,000 tons in 2010. The United States (27,600 tons), Japan (31,800 tons), Germany (9,800 tons), the United Kingdom (11,300 tons), South Korea (15,200 tons), Spain (12,100 tons) and Belgium (9.500 tons) were the leading exporters of ingot in 2009.
Over the past 8 years, U.S. ingot exports were between 29,000 tons and 40,000 tons, reaching a peak in 2007. Ingot imports have decreased generally in every region of the world with exception of the Middle East and Asia, which has tripled the amount of alloy ingot imports since 1999.
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