Articles in Category: Humor

As oil prices flirted with $55/barrel this week, U.S. shale drillers expanded production and most metals saw their prices rise as energy and transportation costs went up, too. What a better week to report strong price increases in the October MetalMiner IndX? But it wasn’t all climbing prices.

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The breakout metals star this year, zinc, has started to fall. Our own Raul de Frutos warns that it’s nothing to be worried about. Don’t expect zinc to turn bearish or anything. Meanwhile, in China, manufacturing provinces have found a way to curtail power costs, no matter what the price.

Liquid Molten Steel Industry

Why sell parts manufacturers boring ol’ formed products when you can sell them liquid aluminum that they can make into anything they want? Source: Adobe Stock/kybele.

As MetalMiner co-founder Stuart Burns explained, Chinese aluminum smelters are taking advantage of close proximity to manufacturers there to make molten aluminum — no refiring — their, umm, hottest product. Read more

This week we saw precious metals, particularly gold, fall as the Federal Reserve board looked increasingly hawkish about finally raising interest rates significantly by December. They really mean business this time!

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The strong dollar has been causing metal prices to fall for the last two months, but this week it hit a seven-month high. If the dollar was Nickelback, precious metals would be Bon Jovi. When investors put their money into the metal, itself, it directly affects the value of the dollar, a commodity that’s merely a certified paper version of the valuable metal and, in this case, vice versa. Why is the dollar riding so high? The rally is based, partially, on those hawkish Fed governor comments. But there’s another reason…

The U.K. and E.U. Can’t Stop Their Brexit Bickering

Yes, the nation that brought you “Fawlty Towers” and “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” is punking its soon-to-be-former European Union partners by drawing up lists of what it gets in the divorce and generally demanding access to the Europe’s single market when it finally leaves.

Other European leaders are rattling the sabre right back and threatening punitive sanctions and zero access to the U.K. once it leaves. French President Francois Hollande seems to be leading the charge but, honestly, most French people would gladly give the U.K. anything it wants if they’d simply promise to take Hollande off their hands. He’s seriously the most disapproved of president in French history.

This has to do with metals because the back-and-forth finally resulted in a flash crash in the pound’s value and that dragged the Euro down against the dollar, too. Here in the U.S. our presidential election has turned childish bickering into somewhat of an art form. Nice that the Europeans have taken notice and are trying the same. It’s helping to boost the dollar.

Alcoa’s Last Stand (Kind of)… As One Company

Meanwhile, Alcoa, Inc., will be splitting itself in two next month. The company reported disappointing earnings in its last earnings season kickoff report as a unified group. A spin-off will take its aerospace and automotive metals business into a new direction while leaving its money-losing primary aluminum smelting business gets to… still smelt.

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Anyway, the company posted a higher third-quarter profit, but revenue fell and that discouraged investors who punished the company’s stock. I bet the titanium and nickel-alloy business unit members of Alcoa thought to themselves, “not my problem anymore.”

How anyone can even contemplate bringing such a freakish looking robo doll into their home I cannot imagine. Not since “The Conjuring,” a 2013 film about a possessed doll called Annabelle, has quite such a scary looking item been released on the unsuspecting public. What was Toyota thinking?

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What am I talking about? Toyota’s 10-centimetre (4-inch) tall talking robot called Kirobo Mini, which will be sold in Japan from next year for $392 (¥39,800) and claims to have the intelligence of a five-year-old.

Source Financial Times

Kiroboo Mini. Source: Financial Times.

The idea of the robot is that it is supposed to provide an emotional connection, maybe particularly relevant for Japan’s aging population bereft of company, Kirobo is said to be able to learn phrases and recognize facial expressions with a built-in camera and sensors. A veritable helper robot with a personality.

Artificial Creepiness

The firm is heavily into artificial intelligence although they do not suggest Kirobo will go that far, yet, rather they are building on the platform built by Sony with their Aibo robotic dog; Toyota will be partnering with Vaio, the personal computer company that was spun off from Sony. Vaio’s plant in Nagano prefecture is also where Sony’s Aibo robotic dog was formerly produced.

As anyone who has lived with a five-year-old in the house will confirm, they can be the most manipulative and capricious of individuals. One hopes Toyota’s programmers do not take the “abilities of a five-year-old” too far or Kirobo may be rather more of a handful than Japan’s elderly but lonely seniors can cope with.

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You wonder if Toyota has their target audience right, sure domestically in Japan their demographic may be crying out for such a product but internationally one could imagine plenty of single people living in rented accommodation who cant have animals would find something to talk to and have talk back an improvement on Siri. If they would just change that face….

In a hilarious article, the Financial Times likens British government officials eying up of the European Union’s assets to divorce lawyers circling their client’s ex-half’s possessions in an attempt to secure the best settlement.

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In the case of the E.U., the claims are substantial, the paper contends. Any exit deal must settle complex liabilities including the U.K. share of guarantees on €60 billion of Eurocrat pensions and almost €20 billion of European Investment Bank loans. At a minimum, the U.K. will continue to pay into the E.U. budget until it leaves in the Spring of 2019, but Brussels is pressing the payments to continue long after 2019, saying commitments to fund projects with longer dates should be honored.


Divorce/Brexit can be so hard… especially dividing up your stuff! Source: Adobe Stock/MartialRed.

Apart from snapping shut the checkbook, you might think the U.K. doesn’t have a whole lot of leverage… not so, U.K. officials say! Read more

Welcome back to the MetalMiner week-in-review. This week, the aluminum world got together in Washington to discuss the threat of overcapacity and the particular problem of Chinese overproduction.

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The U.S. International Trade Commission is involved now. Read our investigation of Chinese overproduction and how it affects aluminum companies around the world while the ITC deliberates.

Source: Thomson Reuters Datastream/China Customs 8/9/2016

We’ve seen Chinese steel exports consistently climb. Source: Thomson Reuters Datastream/China Customs 8/9/2016.

Oil Overproduction

Speaking of overproduction, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has finally agreed to its first production cuts since 2008. Read more

Welcome back to the MetalMiner week-in-review! This week we’ve got in-depth reporting on China and market economy status, India getting tough on aluminum imports and Canada… well, you’ll see what happened in Canada.

We Know Gold Prices Have Gone Up… Butt This is Ridiculous

The theft of about $140,000 worth of gold ($180,000 in Canadian dollars) from the Royal Canadian Mint, was supposedly an inside job… in more ways than one.

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After a trial that concluded in Ottawa on Tuesday, Leston Lawrence, a 35-year-old employee of the government mint in Ottawa, stood accused of foiling the facility’s high security and smuggling out 18 7.4-ounce pucks — this is Canada, after all — worth about $6,800 each. He sold most of the pucks, cooled into the size of a purity testing dipper used at the mint, to an Ottawa Gold Sellers retail store at a nearby mall. The accused criminal mastermind also had four more of the pucks in a safe deposit box.


“Go ahead, scan me with the wand. Nothing to see here.” Source: Adobe Stock/John Takai.

The question the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or the Mint, couldn’t figure out is how he got past the state-of-the-art security that featured full-body metal detectors and secondary screenings with a wand for anyone that tripped the first scan?

Before Lawrence was fired from the Mint and arrested in 2015, investigators also found a tub of Vaseline in his locker. While the wand scanners can pick up even small pieces of metal in a person’s clothes, security officials from the Mint said they probably would not detect dipper-sized gold pucks that were forced between someone’s buttocks using the vaseline.

Ewww, Canada. Read more

The tin market, along with nickel and zinc, has been a standout performer this year.

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Whereas copper, aluminum and other ferrous metals have languished due to oversupply, the tin price has risen steadily and robust demand has met a constrained supply market. According to the World Metal Statistics August report, the tin market recorded a deficit of 7,200 metric tons during January to June 2016. That’s less of a deficit than in the equivalent period in 2015, true, but still a deficit and with no DLA deliveries during the period total reported stocks fell by 2,600 mt during June. In spite of rising production of refined metal in Asia, a 12.6% increase in demand from top consumer China kept the market under pressure.


Against such a backdrop, the reopening of previously abandoned mines is not unexpected. What does raise an eyebrow is the tactics of one junior miner in employing the image of the hit UK BBC period drama “Poldark” in trying to entice investors onto its $150 million fund.

Strongbow Exploration is invoking the romance of the series set in the 18th century mining industry of northern Cornwall to buy-a-bit-of-history, according to the Telegraph. The TV series featuring the dashing Aiden Turner and delectable Eleanor Tomlinson has been a massive hit here in the U.K. — and may prove equally popular to the “Downton Abbey” series once it’s rolled out around the world. It’s just starting its second series (or “season” to you Americans) with even higher viewing numbers.

Poldark: Courtesy of PBS/Masterpiece.

“One Day, this will all be yours.” “What, the curtains?” “No, all that you bloody see!” Poldark is taking audiences by storm and igniting memories of romantic tin mining. Image courtesy of PBS/Masterpiece.

Strongbow may well raise its capital on the romantic idea of buying into a 400-year-old mining tradition, but hard-nosed investors may like to know that with modern recovery technologies, Strongbow’s South Crofty mine has at least a 10-year lifespan.

Read more

It was on one of those weeks when a non-metal commodity dominated metals coverage. We mean the one that factors into just about every metal price through either production or transportation costs. The black gold that sluices across prairie and canyon in tanker cars, pipelines and trucks. The input whose value and production fluctuates at the whim of both Sheikh and wildcatter.

So, honey, then, right?

Saudi Arabia and Russia promised to work together on a “task force” to try to right-size the oil overproduction we’ve become accustomed to over the past two years. MetalMiner Co-Founder Stuart Burns warns that the days of $100 per barrel are, indeed, long gone but something could still come of this latest effort to rein in production. Naturally, the markets ebbed and flowed on speculation of what, exactly, that might be like a small ocean of the stuff filling to the brim a tanker bound for China.

Negative on that Manufacturing Growth

The Institute of Supply Management‘s manufacturing index turned negative in July for the first time since February. And the services gauge fell last month to the lowest level since early 2010. Perhaps the economy’s not doing as great as we thought it was?

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The manufacturing index dropped to 49.4% from 52.6% in August and the ISM services gauge retreated to 51.4% from 55.5%. The combined reading of two indexes was also the weakest in six years.

Transshipment Trouble

Last week, we wrote about China Zhongwang and its billionaire owner, Chinese Communist Party member Liu Zhongtian, buying U.S-based extruder Aleris. Well, more trouble this week for Zhongwang as the Commerce Department launched a new investigation into transshipments related to nearly 1 million metric tons of aluminum stored in rural Mexico.

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Zhongtian says he and his company have nothing to do with it. The Wall Street Journal? Well, it says shipping documents and sales receipts related to the massive stockpile all lead back to Zhongwang.

Less Titanium Production in Utah

Instead of forming titanium sponge by passing titanium tetrachloride in a gaseous phase over molten magnesium or sodium at its Rowley, Utah, facility, Allegheny Technologies, Inc., is cutting out the middle man. The specialty metals producer will now buy its titanium sponge on the open market. By idling the Rowley titanium facility indefinitely, ATI is also cutting 140 jobs. Read more

Tired of being an also ran?

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Having status symbols no better than the guy next door? Ever pulled up in your yacht only to find, 10 minutes later, a guy with a yacht twice the size pulls into the same bay right next to you? Yeah, tiresome isn’t it?

Who Needs a Ferrari When You Can Have a Gold iPhone 7?

Well, while everyone else is queueing outside an Apple store from midnight before the next morning release of a new smartphone, we have something so much better for you. This is the new iPhone 7 from Goldgenie, finished in 24-karat Gold, Rose Gold or Platinum, and if that is not enough for you they do a super luxury version edged and decorated with Swarovski Crystals and even high-quality diamonds. Here’s the best bit, this exclusive, oh-so-cool, piece of one-upsmanship (if there is such a word) luxurious collection will be available with prices starting at just $3,150 (£2,400).


Why buy a bigger yacht when you can have a 24-karat gold iPhone 7? Source: goldgenie.

However if you really want to push that boat out and outdo the sheikh next to you, go for the $14,300 (£11,000 ) Diamond Rockstar. A bargain, right? It is also rumored that the luxury brand may even be replicating the $3 million (£2.3m) iPhone 6s Diamond Ecstasy encrusted with over 800 diamonds. Read more

This week, U.S. Steel got its section 337 investigation against 40 — yes 40 — Chinese steel companies reinstated and we got to see the minutiae of just how the International Trade Commission, administrative law judges and the Commerce Department work together. Or, in this case, don’t work together.

Free Download: The August 2016 MMI Report

To tell this tale we must go to a magical place full of bureaucrats called Washington, D.C., where one in every 12 residents, according to the American Bar Association, is a lawyer. The ITC is an independent, bipartisan, quasi-judicial, federal agency that provides trade expertise to both the legislative and executive branches.


Red tape has beset U.S. Steel’s pursuit of a section 337 investigation against Chinese steel companies. Source: Adobe Stock/retrostar.

The agency also determines the impact of imports on U.S. industries and directs actions against unfair trade practices, such as subsidies, dumping, patent, trademark, and copyright infringement.

What’s an Administrative Law Judge?

The ITC employs ALJs. Five of them, to be exact. These “finders of fact” adjudicate disputes for the six ITC commissioners, who are appointed by the president and confirmed by congress. The ALJs greatly reduce the workload of the commissioners who only deal with the most serious matters that reach their level. At least in theory, that is. Read more