Government to explore ‘value chain’ of scrap metal industry


Paula Gopee-Scoon, Minister of Trade and Industry.

Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said the government was looking at opportunities to improve the national scrap metal industry. She made the comment before the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Finance approved an expenditure of $245,319,640 for the ministry in the 2022/2023 budget.

Responding to a question from MP for Mayaro Rushton Paray, Gopee-Scoon said there was an allocation of $600,000 in the budget to look into this issue.

“We intend to use his money to do a feasibility study to see what opportunities there are.”

Gopee-Scoon said scrap metal recycling could be one such opportunity. She added that the idea was to look at the potential of the industry beyond scrap metal recovery and export.

“We want to see what the industry holds in terms of the entire value chain.”

Once the feasibility study is completed, Gopee-Scoon said, “We will also continue to implement the recommendations.”

She anticipated the need for an online registry for scrap metal.

Paray asked if the online register could be operational before the end of the current six-month shutdown of the scrap metal industry. Gopee-Scoon replied that maybe not.

She hinted that the feasibility study could be completed in three months.

Other than that, Gopee-Scoon said further steps to improve the industry may come after the ban ends.

At a press conference at St Ann’s Diplomatic Center on July 7, the Prime Minister said he would seek advice from Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, on banning the sale of scrap metals.

On July 20, the association met with a sub-committee of Cabinet to consider issues related to scrap metal theft. Energy Minister Stuart Young chaired this committee. The other members were Armour, Gopee-Scoon and National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds.

Young said the subcommittee wrote to other stakeholders and asked them to submit recommendations on how to deal with the scrap metal theft.

On August 15, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds announced the Cabinet decision to shut down the industry for six months.

The perpetrators will be liable to a fine of $15,000 under the Metal and Marine Shops Act 1904 or a fine of $1,000 and/or imprisonment for 12 months under the Commerce Ordinance.

Over the next three months, Attorney General Reginald Armor SC will review the industry and draft a regulatory framework so that in November he can again approach Cabinet with the bill to monitor and reduce the illegal trade in scrap metal and metal.

It will also review regional and international legislation on the export of scrap metal and make recommendations for changing existing regulations.

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