The metal industry has been thriving since the 19th century when technology first made it easier to process metal ores on a larger scale. It has rapidly changed through the course of time because it is adapting and changing based on the demands and needs of the consumers. Back in the day, the only factors affecting copper & brass sales along with other metals were the demand and the ability of manufacturers to supply.
Today, there are more factors that influence the prices of metals. These are the most important of those factors:
Factor #1: Available of Natural Resources
All types of pure metals are naturally occurring in the form of metal ores. These are mined and harvested, but they are non-renewable resources which means their numbers are depleting and as they start to become rare commodities, their prices begin to spike. Meaning, the less virgin ores found in nature, the higher the prices of metal and metal alloy products and pieces.
Factor #2: Oil Prices
The modern world is fairly reliant on fossil fuels as a source of energy. This is why the rise and fall of oil prices also affect metal and alloy sales prices, mainly because oil is used in almost every step of metal processing. From the harvesting process where oil is used to power heavy machinery, the transportation of ores which requires the use of vehicles, up to the manufacturing facilities that may or may not rely on oil for the processing of metals.
Due to the dependence of the metal industry on oil, the fluctuation prices of fuel will have a big impact on metal prices.
Factor #3: Volume of Recycled Metals
It is no secret that the process involved in turning scrap metal into new pieces requires less effort and energy than processing virgin ores. Thanks to this, recycled metals are always more affordable than brand new ones. When more people opt to recycle scrap metal or even just prioritize cleaner and greener metal options, this can have a major effect on the metal industry and their prices.
Recycled metals are just as good as the ones made from virgin ores; hence there is no reason not to use them. In fact, responsible consumerism can have a major impact on the metal industry and all other industries that cater to the demand of consumers.
Factor #4: Importing and Exporting Costs
It may not seem like a big factor, but the importing and exporting of metals have an effect on their prices as well. Most metal mining happens outside of the country, this adds up to the cost because ores require extra transportation via cargo ships or airplane before they can be manufactured on US soil. Other additional fees like taxes, handling, and storage will also add up which will make imported metals more expensive.
Factor #5: Meeting the Demands
While demand for metals is considered one of the oldest factors to dictate metal prices, it is still worth mentioning today. Ever since metals and metals alloys were introduced to the modern world, consumers have been demanding for it because they are very useful and versatile. The problem with this hunger for metals is that it drives the prices up because suppliers are scrambling to cater to their customers.
The higher the demand for metals, the more expensive they become. Soon, metal and metal alloys, especially the non-ferrous types will become a luxury and access to them will be limited.
Consumers Making a Difference
At first glance it may seem like the metal industry and the prices of the products are controlled by the miners and the suppliers. Although this is partly true, consumers can also make a difference simply by prioritizing recycled pieces over virgin metals. It might not seem like a big factor, but when more people decide to recycle and choose metals suppliers who also value the environment, prices may change to the benefit of the consumers.
What Factors Affect the Price of Copper?, investopedia.com
What is Affecting Metal Prices? Weforum.org