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China mulls fresh restrictions on scrap copper imports from 2018 -industry website

Kitco News

By Ruby Lian and Melanie Burton

SHANGHAI/SYDNEY, Oct 17 (Reuters) - China may ban traders from importing scrap copper from the start of next year, a widely read industry website reported on Monday, as the world's top metals user deepens its crackdown on imports of foreign waste and cuts pollution from heavy industries.

Chinese authorities have imposed tougher requirements on issuing receiver and import licences for scrap metal, making imports nearly impossible, Shanghai Metals Market reported, without saying where it got the information.

Beijing has already announced a ban on imports of some scrap metal, including copper, from the end of 2018. Shanghai Futures Exchange copper prices hit their highest in 4-1/2 years on Tuesday, having jumped 3.2 pct on Monday. London Metal Exchange copper is at three-year highs above $7,100 a tonne, up around 28 percent year to date.

"The new policy (would) require that users, receivers and importers are the same company, which means traders will be kicked out of the distribution process," said Xu Yongqi, an analyst with CITIC Futures in Shanghai. "The move will lead to tighter supplies of scrap copper, at least for a short while."

China is the world's biggest user and producer of refined copper, accounting for about 45 percent of global demand, but must import any additional needs from mines or scrap merchants. A ban on scrap could mean that it must import more refined copper.

China imported 3.3 million tonnes of scrap copper last year, slightly lower than 3.6 million tonnes of refined metal. (Reporting by Ruby Lian in SHANGHAI and Melanie Burton in SYDNEY; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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