Scrap metal heap grows

Cayman’s supposed gold mine of scrap metal looks more like a pile of junk.

Two years after Government announced it would sell the scrap metal for more than $1 million, the pile is still at the George Town Landfill and growing every day.

A third attempt to sell the scrap metal is set to start at a time when scrap commodity prices have bottomed out.

In the latest twist to the long-running scrap metal saga, the second round of tendering for the scrap metal fell through with no contract being awarded.

That failed attempt came after Matrix International Ltd. failed to carry out its end of the bargain after offering government $1.25 million for the scrap metal in 2007. Matrix removed only some of the scrap metal and only ended up paying government $310,000 before being barred from the landfill site.

Minster of Infrastructure Arden McLean maintained the scrap metal left at the landfill was still worth a significant amount when he announced the removal contract would be re-tendered last June.

But with world commodity prices falling, the metal at Mount Trashmore may soon be just a worthless pile of junk.

Since last summer, the market price for both aluminium and copper has fallen though the floor. Just a few weeks ago, aluminium prices hit a five-year low. Copper has plunged more than 60 per cent since hitting a record high last July.

According to the Central Tenders Committee, the second round of tendering for the metal fell through in July 2008, after local recyclers failed to provide the proper documentation.

However, one bidder said he did not think it was for lack of completed documents that caused the halt to the last bidding.

James Moore, owner of the business known as National Recycling Centre, insists he submitted all the required documents and thinks the bidding was halted because of the changing fortunes of world commodity prices.

Department of Environmental Health Director, Roydell Carter, whose agency helped evaluate the tenders, said a new round of bidding on the metal is due to begin in the next few weeks.

‘We are in the process of putting it out to tender in the next week because we want to get this metal off island as quick as possible,’ he said.

As part of a regular routine to reduce the metal to be processed, Mr. Carter said the metal is being bailed at the landfill. This helps reduce the material from flying around and causing damage during a hurricane, he said.

According to Mr. Carter there is a lot of scrap metal, covering several acres and it is growing each day.

Beyond extracting a few dollars on the metal, there was a second important reason for inviting tenders to remove the metal in the first place – the threat it could pose in hurricane season.

Minister McLean had wanted to get all the scrap metal off the island before 2007. Cayman had two major scares last year with Hurricanes Gustav and Paloma. Whether the metal will finally leave the landfill before the start of this coming hurricane season is unknown.