Letter Re: On Brass Recycling

The note from “Christian Souljer” in the Pacific Northwest today (Monday) points out the elevated price available when recycling brass. I was talking to
Nikki at River Valley Ordnance (http://www.rvow.com) the other day. [She told me that] brass is high now because China is paying top dollar for brass, including the once-fired brass that RVOW would normally buy from the government to remanufacture for us non- government types. Not so long ago, RVOW was able to buy .223 [U.S. military 5.56mm NATO M16 brass] in 5,000 pound lots; Nikki says it looks like the minimums are going up, possibly to 100,000 pound lots, because Chinese are buying so much surplus brass. I wonder why… Do you remember reading about how much scrap iron the Japanese were buying from us in the 1930s? – Dave in Omaha

JWR Replies:  It isn’t just brass, Dave. According to Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (http://www.scrap.org), the mainland Chinese have also driven up the prices of scrap steel, stainless steel, nickel (to make stainless steel), copper, bronze, and lead.  In many cases they are buying everything that they can lay there hands on. Note that the following observation may just be evidence of that “free floating  anxiety” that I was once accused of in a televised debate, but methinks that the extent of the Chinese scrap metal buying frenzy cannot be attributed solely to China’s economic renaissance.