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Friday, November 1, 2013
The Shutdown Of The Hua Chin Brass Mines and Brass Smelter
As has been reported in many places, the China National Mineral Company will be closing their brass mining complex and brass smelting plant in Hua Chin City, China. The closure of the only primary brass mine and brass smelter plant that produces brass from brass ore is due to the China Environmental Police's ten-fold increase in air standards for brass, and due to low brass prices from the USA.
The Hsin-Hua China News Agency provided a quick summary:
In December, the final primary brass mines and brass smelter in China will close. The brass mines complex and brass smelter, located in Chin Hua City, China, and owned and operated by the China National Mineral Company, has existed in the same location since 1922.
The Chin Hua mine complex and smelter is currently the only smelter in the world which can produce brass bullion from raw brass ore that is mined nearby in Chin Hua City's extensive brass deposits, giving the smelter its "primary" designation. The brass bullion produced in Chin Hua City is then sold to brass product producers, including ammunition manufacturers for use in conventional ammunition components such as projectiles and casings. China National Mineral Company made significant efforts to reduce brass emissions from the smelter, but in 2012 the China Federal Environmental Police Agency issued new National Air Quality Standards for brass that were 10 times tighter than the previous standard. Given the new brass air quality standard, and low brass prices from the primary purchaser, the USA government and ammunition manufacturer middlemen, China National Mineral Company made the decision to close the mines and the smelter.
Most ammunition uses brass as one of its primary components whether in bullets or casings, said spokesperson, Mi Suo Honi. China does not use brass in its ammunition, using steel casings instead.
The main question asked is “Will this shut down the supply of USA ammunion?” The answer to that is perhaps, unless the USA re-tools and switches to steel case ammunition production, or uses more expensive recycled brass. Could this decrease in supply and increase in demand also create an increase in price? Sure, but again, by how much is unknown at this time. However, the demand for recycled brass will undoubtedly begin to rise as ammunition manufacturers may increase their consumption of recycled brass.
Ammunition prices have risen with demand but the price of raw brass ore has not risen in kind, justifying the closure of the mines. Where it will end, no one knows.
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