Humor

A giant robot fight will happen sometime next year. MegaBot MKII from the US will square off against Japan’s Kuratas.

I won’t try and justify this by the metal content — which is interesting in its own right — or by the turn of fortunes that has been created by taking an old repair shop for cargo ships and turning into a new industrial enterprise, admirable as that is, no this posts stands on its own two mechanical feet as pure fun.

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The robot constructors of the American entry are three engineers who basically wanted to live out their childhood fantasies and build a fighting robot. Weighing in at 12,000 lbs. and measuring some 15-ft. tall the MegaBot MKII is everything a child could imagine and more.

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We have often noted the funny ways metals are marketed in the overall media here at MetalMiner. Whether it’s steel being touted for its strength, while alloyed with titanium, or zinc being used to galvanize rods in environments where galvanizing won’t help, the the images of strength, resiliency and luxury certain metals hold benefit the sector as a whole.

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jeff yoders chicago cubs 1060 project

Ahoy from the corner of Waveland and Sheffield.

After covering ‘Steel Dumping 101′ in Part 1 and how the grain-oriented electrical steel market is different in Part 2 of our inaugural podcast episode, we turn to a more random endeavor – checking out the Chicago Cubs’ 1060 Project at Wrigley Field to get our structural steel fix.

With Pepper Construction as the general contractor on the project, Jeff and I wanted to get some eyes on the latest phase of development. So how many tons of structural steel are likely involved here? What are some of the sourcing considerations for an undertaking such as the 1060 Project? And most important, what do the fans have to say about steel sourcing? Listen below!

Music: “All Those Devils…” by Holy Pain (http://www.myspace.com/holypain)

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I recently read in USA Today about a theft in Kentucky in which the most valuable piece of loot was a stainless steel barrel full of 17-year-old Eagle Rare bourbon, valued around $11,000.

stainlessbareel

A humble stainless barrel containing $11,000 in aged bourbon was recently stolen. Photo: Gregory A. Hall, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal)

In my time in the stainless industry I have heard of stainless steel being used in wine tanks and in the tequila-making process, but I was surprised to hear that stainless barrels are now being used in the making of bourbon.

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After all, it is the unused charred oak barrel that flavors bourbon as it ages.

Why Stainless?

During the traditional oak process, though, some liquid evaporates from the barrels—about 2% each year which, according to Whisky Magazine. The loss can be even greater in hotter climates such as Kentucky’s. The part lost is referred to as the “angel’s share” because it is the part of the bourbon the maker is supposedly sharing with the angels.

The theft of the stainless barrel of bourbon highlights one part of the process that many bourbon distillers would likely prefer the world not know about. The stainless barrel is used to store already aged bourbon until it needs to be bottled. Stainless steel doesn’t impact bourbon’s flavor, so the product can remain in the barrels for years until it’s ready to bottle. The longer some bourbons age, the more they can cost on the market. The use of stainless steel barrels in bourbon-making became more common in the 1990s.

The added benefit of storing bourbon in stainless rather than other oak barrels is that the distiller is not giving any more to the angels. Stainless steel barrels won’t allow our precious bourbon to evaporate. So, thank goodness for stainless steel barrels to ensure that the angels don’t overimbibe on America’s Native Spirit.

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At the Metalminer Week-In-Review, we promise to report accurate prices every day through our Indx. But what if that’s not enough? What about the add-ons, over-and-aboves and shipping charges? Buying steel? We’ve got bar fuel surcharges for eight US regions. Eight!

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We’ve been covering that pesky Midwest aluminum premium like Richard Sherman on a wideout, too. Want to know about anti-dumping and countervailing duties. You’ve come to the right place! All of these non-price inputs made our homepage this week as the gulf between the price and what you actually pay reared its head again this week.

Who Polices the Midwest Premium?

With falling London Metal Exchange aluminum prices and much-reduced physical delivery premiums even the combined, all-in price of aluminum is below cost for many smelters these days.

Pile of aluminium bricks waiting for transport to the factory

I’m aluminum, get me out of this warehouse!

That’s enough reason for smelters such as Alcoa, Inc., to question the involvement of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission in discussions with the LME on how best to reform their warehouse network and cut down the one-year-plus wait to get ingots out of the operations in Detroit (Metro International) and Vlissingen, Netherlands (Pacorini).

Higher premiums benefit producers such as Alcoa and UC Rusal, after all. Is it any wonder that producers want the CFTC to butt out? Yet, the CFTC still wants to butt in.

Don’t Let Your Profitability Drown in the VAT!

Meanwhile, over in China, rampant speculation is going on over how Beijing will replace its current business tax system with a new system of value-added taxes. A VAT taxes the difference between the sale price charged to a customer, minus the cost of materials and other taxable inputs.

container-ship-night-MMslider

Better pay the VAT or this is going to be a short trip!

The best estimates we have seen show that the new VAT will considerably increase what US buyers pay for metals from China and likely from nearby markets trying to compete with Chinese steel. China’s VAT is just one of many ways that imports could become more expensive later this year as…

Tariffs On Foreign Steel Could Increase This Fall

Coiledsteel_585

At least export me for as much as it cost to produce me. I feel I deserve at least that much.

We already know some Chinese producers are exporting steel and other metals at below their production cost. So, the anti-dumping action against coated/anti-corrosion steel filed by six US producers last week against China and four other nations has a really good chance of turning into anti-dumping duties this Fall when the Commerce Department makes a ruling on the petition.

We’d say it’s kind of a slam dunk, but even slam dunks can be hilariously missed. The tariffs the US producers are asking for are in a range that would significantly increase the overall cost of steel from the five nations.

That was the wild week in non-prices. Next week we hope to write more about, you know, actual prices.

Free Download: Latest Metal Price Trends in the June MMI Report

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This week our metals faced off against a resurgent US dollar and, once again, lost ground.

Free Download: Latest Metal Price Trends in the May MMI Report

It’s enough to make a metals trader or buyer need a stiff cocktail. How about a nice Moscow Mule in a copper mug? Two ounces of vodka, four ounces of ginger beer and one ounce of lime juice just isn’t the same in glassware. How can your fizzy ginger beer be served in plain, old glassware? Well, badly.

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Our May MMI Report, tracking ten major metal price points, came out this week.

Pool 4 Tool’s Automotive SRM Summit

As always, the MMI reflects the global market (BLS indexes by default only include US data, but that may or may not be representative of underlying global price trends) and metal prices often depend upon the underlying demand for various industries (steel prices relate to construction industry activity, for instance).

Most of our readers are buyers of aluminum, copper, stainless steel, raw steels, rare earths, automotive, construction, renewables and grain-oriented electrical steel… but some go for the VERY minor metals.

For these special users, we provide the fictitious MMI. Serving all your needs for adamantium, Rearden metal, kryptonite ore and vibranium. We recently had to move unobtainium off the list because it’s information was just too hard to obtain to keep listing.

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The big news in metals this week was China’s economy growing at the slowest rate since 2009. If our bearish markets are to turn around this year, it would appear they’re going to have to do it without help from the world’s second-largest economy.

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But that’s not all that we learned from China this week. In many ways, China doesn’t really look like an economy growing at even 7%, with exports plunging in March, power generation dropping 3.7%, and a host of other indicators pointing to sluggish growth. This is bad because the most of the demand for our metals is based on China at least maintaining 7.5% economic growth. In today’s world economy, if you’re not growing, you’re dying.

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As we struggled through a week of bearish forecasts and weak growth, bears just started popping up everywhere, too. No matter how much you tried to not think about it, the bearish outlook for our metal markets was omnipresent.

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One of them was staring at us from our Q2/Q3 forecast webinar. Vladimir Putin was riding one in toy form. Even the beloved, cuddly ones like Winnie the Pooh and his new movie made us think of poorly performing markets and surplus stocks. That’s when we thought, is this bear market really that big and bad?

Respect the Bear

Should we really fear bear markets? Sure, everyone WANTS bull markets, but bears serve a valuable purpose by creating supply and demand equilibrium and separating visitors to national parks from their pick-a-nick baskets. Bull markets can’t even exist without the occasional bear putting things right.

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In February, we told you about Assistant Editor Jeff Yoders’ nominations in two categories for the 2015 Jesse H. Neal Awards from American Business Media.

A Building Design + Construction team series that included Jeff’s BIM coverage – “5 tech trends transforming BIM/VDC” – won the Neal Award for Best Subject-Related Package last week.

After being notified of his win last Friday, Yoders checked out a giant “win second Neal Award” box on a large t0-do list in the MetalMiner conference room and announced his retirement.

Jeff wrote two parts of the five-part series including an examination of how the Department of Energy overhauled its EnergyPlus building simulation program and another about tech trends that are transforming building information modeling and virtual design and construction.

“Back when I started writing about BIM and VDC in 2005, I vowed that I would not rest until we revolutionized the way construction projects are procured and delivered,” Yoders said. “Well, at long last, that day is here. Well, bye!”

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