One scrap of scrap can cost $20.
Another scrap of aluminium, $25.
And so on.
It’s not an easy question to answer, because titanium scrap is a bit like diamonds, or gold, or copper: it’s worth something in the world of scrap, and worth it for scrap’s own sake.
For some scrap metal traders, titanium scrap has been a real asset over the years.
They know that, with titanium scrap, they can earn a profit on the metal, making the metal valuable enough to be traded.
The titanium scrap market is booming, and with it come the new problems of the global economy, said Craig Giffen, chief executive of scrap-minerium company Valheim Leather Scrap.
“When it comes to the economy, the prices are just going up, and titanium is just the highest in terms of price increase,” Giffent said.
“So it’s a very good place to invest.”
In the United States, the market for scrap metal is huge, said Steve Lantz, managing director at metals and scrap dealer Giffens Metal in Portland, Ore.
The market has doubled over the last two years, with demand outstripping supply.
Lantz said the price increases have been driven by a combination of factors, including demand for scrap, supply shortages and high-tech, new mining techniques.
Demand for scrap is increasing because of the recession, he said, and a rise in the price per kilogram of titanium, the highest metal in the periodic table, has made it a good investment.
In the early days of scrap mining, titanium was a precious commodity, said Lantz.
The market exploded when the metal was made into jewelry and other goods.
Now, it’s on par with platinum, he added.
Titanium is used for many purposes, including the production of magnets, coatings and the building of electronic circuits, but it also has other uses.
For the first time, the metal is being used to make plastic and rubber, and Lantz said titanium scrap can be made into a plastic resin, which is used in the manufacturing of products like foam and plastic cups.
“It’s just a phenomenal opportunity,” he said.
But what’s a titanium scrap company to do?
Lantz and Giffon said they try to offer scrap dealers an array of options for buying titanium scrap.
For example, Lantz offers titanium scrap in the form of scrap metal bars and a small metal plate for scrap dealers to take.
Lantz also offers titanium as a component in the creation of plastics.
And he sells titanium scrap to scrap dealers in a variety of forms, including “paintable” scrap, which contains titanium and other materials.
The company does a third of its business through the sale of paintable scrap.
The demand for titanium scrap by dealers, however, is still low.
“We have been able to meet a lot of our customers’ needs,” Gffen said.
Some dealers have said they’re trying to get customers to use scrap to make more than one item.
That can be challenging, said Giffan.
“I think there’s a lot that can be done, but the supply is going up,” he added, noting that titanium scrap typically sells for $20 to $30 per kilo.
Lantz said it’s difficult to know how much titanium scrap buyers actually need.
“There’s a bit of a gray area,” he noted.
“If we’re going to give you something, you might want to take it and try to use it, but you don’t want to use more than you need.”
If you would like to contact reporter Ryan J. Anderson, call 503-974-5886 or email [email protected]