High energy costs led to a reduction in non-ferrous metal production in 2022. While the trade balance for semi-finished products is roughly even, Germany remains heavily dependent on imports for raw metals.
The 621 companies in the German non-ferrous metal industry employ over 106,000 people. In 2022, the companies produced a total of around 6.5 million tons of non-ferrous metal, 54% of which was sold in Germany and 87% within the European Union; 13% was supplied to third countries, as the Wirtschaftsvereinigung Metalle (WVMetalle) explains in its latest annual report. Last year, the industry consumed over 15 MWh of electricity and just under 10 MWh of natural gas for production.
Energy-intensive sub-sectors such as metal production were particularly affected by the high energy costs, which, according to the WVMetalle, led to considerable cutbacks and, in some cases, production shutdowns. As a result, the volume of non-ferrous metals produced in Germany in 2022 was 7.8% down on the previous year. Production continued to be hampered by staff shortages and a lack of spare parts.
Highly Dependent on Imports for Raw Metals
In the course of this development, Germany became a net importer of non-ferrous semi-finished metal products for the first time in many years, even though the quantities imported and exported have only differed by 2,000 tons so far. In addition to ores and concentrates, a different picture emerges for raw metal, of which Germany has been importing more than it exports for several years. According to WVMetalle, this reflects the German industry's dependence on supplies of important raw metals such as aluminum, nickel, zinc and a number of rare earth metals.