How to Make Money Selling Scrap Metal in South Africa

Scrap metal recycling is a giant industry worldwide and now you can also cash in on it. You don’t need much in the line of start-up funds. In fact, you can make money selling scrap metal almost immediately.

Metal can be sold to scrap yards and sometimes even at handsome profits. Most metals are sold per kilogram, though some of the more precious metals are sold by gram or ounce.

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The most common metal and the one people think of when you mention ways to make money selling scrap metal, is none other than iron. This metal is easy to find, but also has the lowest value per kilogram, usually in the range of R1.50 to R2.

Iron isn't the heaviest metal either at 7.87g per cc (cubic centimetre). The above factors make it the least profitable metal by weight, but as it is so common you could still make quite a bit of money if you manage to gather loads of scrap iron.

Using a normal 1-ton bakkie you could potentially make about R2 000 on a trip to the scrap yard. Remember to not overload your vehicle.


Next in line if you want to make money selling scrap metal, is aluminium.  It is also a very common metal, but not nearly as common as iron. Aluminium normally sells for around R10 to R12 per kilogram and has a volumetric weight of 2.7g per cc. So, although the price is quite a bit higher than that of iron, its light weight means that it takes up quite a bit of volume to get a decent pay out.   That being said, if you manage to load one ton of this stuff you could potentially earn up to R12 000 per load. Again, don't overload your vehicle.


Lead is one of the densest of the commonly found metals at 11.36g per kilogram and sells for R12 to R15 per kilogram. Because lead is so heavy, it's most commonly used as weights. This means, unlike with many other metals, you are more likely to find big solid pieces of it, rather than thin pieces designed to save weight.

You could make about the same for a ton of lead compared to aluminium, but the advantage is that it will only take about 25% of the space. Lead is one of the metals that you could make money selling scrap metal from small enough loads to put in your car. Note that a car cannot generally load nearly as much weight as a bakkie.


Copper is the Holy Grail of scrap metals. Have you ever wondered why so many cables are stolen for the copper inside? Copper will get you around R50 per kilogram, and sometimes up to R70 depending on the scrap yard. Copper is also one of the denser metals at 8.96g per cc. All of the above factor into making copper the most profitable metal. If you manage to gather a whole one ton of this almost precious metal you could be going home with a staggering R50 000 for one trip to the scrap yard.

Now that you know the basics of how to make money from selling scrap metal in South Africa, gather the iron, lead, aluminium, and copper lying around at your house and make your first trip to the scrap yard.

Author: Mickey Gauché (2017)


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