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Strong US dollar hurting W.Va. scrap metal business

Register-Herald photo by Chris Jackson Scrap metal is sorted at Barker’s Junk Co. in Mabscott.
Register-Herald photo by Chris Jackson
Scrap metal is sorted at Barker’s Junk Co. in Mabscott.

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Lloyd Brooks and Jarred Coy stood beside a Dodge truck weighed down with rusty motorcycle, car and lawnmower parts Wednesday afternoon while waiting to unload at Barker’s Junk Co., in Mabscott.

The men estimated they had between 1,500 to 1,800 pounds of scrap metal and were hoping for at least $80 for the truck load.

 Amid the beeping of tow motors, the crunching of scrap metal and the rumbling of cars speeding over a nearby bridge, Brooks explained that until a few years ago a truck load of scrap metal could bring around $200, but not lately.

“It’s down drastically,” Brooks said. “It used to pay our bills.”

“Now, we’re lucky if it pays half the light bill,” said Coy, jokingly.

The Fayetteville men are unaware they are two cogs in a global economy.

A strong dollar and China’s slowing economy has hurt a number of industries, but perhaps none as much as the recycling business.

For more than half a century, waste has been a U.S. export, supplying need material for melting in foreign steel mills or made into new paper products.

But a strong greenback has made domestic waste pricier internationally…

 

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