Sudbury·Audio

Scrap metal prices hit 15-year low, recyclers feeling the pinch

Recycled metal prices in Sudbury are the lowest they've been in 15 years.
Mike Labelle, president of Scrappie's scrap yard in Lively, says there is too much scrap metal on the market and not enough demand, which has caused prices to plummet. (Marina Von Stackelberg/CBC)
If you're hoping to get some cash out of the metal in your car, low metal prices might leave you a little lighter in the wallet. CBC reporter Marina von Stackelberg checked out how low metal prices are affecting scrap yards. 6:25
Recycled metal prices in Sudbury are the lowest they've been in 15 years.

That's according to Mike Labelle, the president of Scrappie's Salvage Iron and Metals.

Labelle said there is too much scrap metal on the market and not enough demand, which has caused prices to plummet.

He said many people make their living collecting scrap metal, and they're feeling the strain.

"A lot of the guys that were stockpiling and waiting for the market to go up, because it is a market that goes up and down, after six months you run out of money," he said.

At this time last year, Labelle says a scrap car would be worth about $185 dollars per tonne.

Now it's only worth $100.

"You expect ups and downs," Labelle said.

"Unfortunately you never expect an up and down to be as large as its been over the last months."

Labelle said some people have stocked piled scrap metal hoping prices will increase, but are finally giving up and bringing it in.

Metal theft goes down

But there is a silver lining to the drop in metal prices.

It's reducing metal theft.

"It was not uncommon — particularly when the price of copper was high — for copper that's laid on the ground for geophysical surveys was stolen," said Bruce Jago, who is with the Goodman School of Mines at Laurentian University.

"I've heard stories where 500 metres of copper wire was stolen."

Jago is a geologist who has worked in the mining and exploration industry for years.

He said the low prices for scrap metal are a deterrent for thieves, as "there may not be the demand that there was beforehand. It doesn't make sense for them to even steal copper because nobody wants it."

Back in the scrap yard, Labelle said the price will stay down until demand for metal picks up.

He said says he's used to the price going up and down, but not as bad as its been the last few months.

When the price plummeted $75 dollars in February, he wasn't prepared.

Labelle said he has a big enough operation to deal with the decline in price, but he has had to lay off some employees.

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