Scrap metal export ban: Government to extend period by a further nine months

On the 15th of May 2023, a notice was issued in the Government Gazette by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, calling for comments on extending the ban on the trade of ferrous and non-ferrous waste and scrap metals. Such an extension would also allow the Department to use this time to move into phase 2 of its project – a digital transformation of the waste and scrap metal industry with the intent to amplify compliance and automation.

Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel has proposed to issue a Trade Policy Directive and Notice that scrap metal may not be exported from South Africa for a further temporary period of nine months and that the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (Itac) shall suspend the operation of the price preference system (PPS) insofar as it relates to scrap metal for a further temporary period of nine months or until the date on which the PPS terminates, whichever is earlier.

He has also requested interested parties to make submissions or to comment on the proposal.

This comes after the government last year announced measures to address the theft of public infrastructure for resale as scrap metal.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) at the time, said it was resulting in more than R47 billion damage annually to the economy.

An initial plan involved the prohibition of export of scrap copper and ferrous metal for a six month period, as well as blocking the use of cash in copper and scrap metal transactions.

Now, turning up the heat, the government is proposing to prohibit the export of certain ferrous and non-ferrous waste and scrap metal for a further period of nine months.

According to the government gazette, motivating for the move: “Feedback received, in particular from Transnet, Eskom and SAPS, indicates that from November 30, 2022, the theft of copper and ferrous metal has reduced but remains at very high levels and continues to cause considerable damage to the infrastructure and to the economy.”

Phase two of the policy will include the enhancement of the regulation of scrap metal trade through amendments to the Second-Hand Goods Act, 6 of 2009, “To bolster the applicable metal trading registration regime, as well as further interventions such as the limitation of ports and land borders for export of waste, scrap and semi-finished metal products.”

Phase two is estimated to take nine months to implement, which will include the development of an electronic registration and trading system.