Articles in Category: Public Policy

On its journey of self-reliance, India still needs coal.

Highly dependent on imports for this crucial raw material needed for steel and power generation, India has decided to tackle its coking coal deficit by acquiring a foreign coking coal asset, and washing certain grades of coal to make it fuel-ready.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

Power Minister Piyush Goyal told news agency Press Trust of India that one of the ways the government was contemplating reducing its reliance on imports was to wash certain grades of coal to make available 20 million metric tons of coking coal in the next three to four years for the domestic steel industry.

Not Enough Coal for Steel Production or Power Generation

Chairman and Managing Director of Coal India Ltd. S. Bhattacharya has reiterated that coking coal requirements for the domestic steel industry are still not being met. State-run CIL, the country’s near-monopoly coal producer, is said to be looking at coking coal assets overseas as the country was faced with constraints of commercially viable domestic metallurgical coal reserves, the Minister told Parliament in a statement. CIL is looking to appoint a merchant banker to assist it in acquiring assets overseas. Read more

President Trump’s budget proposal this week would cut the federal government to its core if enacted, culling back numerous programs and expediting a historic contraction of the federal workforce, according to economists who spoke to the Washington Post and saw the draft plans.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

This would be the first time the government has executed cuts of this magnitude — and all at once — since the drawdown following World War II, economists and budget analysts told the Post.

Chinese Rebar Jumps

Shanghai rebar steel futures rose nearly 3% on Monday, supported by a pickup in seasonal demand in top consumer China that also lifted Chinese iron ore off of a one-month low.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

But bloated stockpiles of iron ore at China’s ports — holding near their highest in at least 13 years — capped price gains in the steelmaking raw material.

The most-active rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was up 2.7% at 3,496 yuan ($506) a metric ton by the midday break.

U.S. infrastructure was given a near-failing grade of D+ by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) yesterday, the largest trade association of the civil engineering profession in the U.S. This was the second time in two reports that our national roads, bridges, railways, airports, dams and other infrastructure sites barely avoided the dreaded F.  The criticism could give momentum to President Donald Trump’s vow of a $1 trillion investment to rebuild everything from roads to dams.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

The D+ grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers‘ (ASCE) is unchanged from its last report card in 2013, suggesting that only minor progress had been made in improving public works.

The ASCE estimated in a statement that the United States needed to invest $4.59 trillion by 2025 to bring its infrastructure to an adequate B- grade, a figure about $2 trillion higher than current funding levels.

Chinese Steel Exports Plummet

Chinese steel exports tumbled to a three-year low in February, customs data showed on Wednesday, lower than expectations, as steelmakers in the world’s top producer shifted to meeting rising demand at home.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

Shipments for the month were 5.75 million metric tons, the lowest since February 2014, data from the General Administration of Customs showed. It was down 29.1% from a year ago and down 22.5% from January.

German Dominguez

German Dominguez

There’s been a lot of talk about President Trump’s “border tax” lately as it relates to reshoring manufacturing to the U.S. and financing “great, great” border walls, and my colleague Jeff Yoders has done a bang-up job covering the gamut of the Trump administration’s proposed policies in general.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

On our sister site Spend Matters, we tried to get closer to the bottom of the whole south-of-the-border tax issue, which opened up a can of worms — and devolved into golf analogies.

But what does it all mean for U.S and Mexican manufacturers and their future strategies?

Q&A With German Dominguez, Independent Advisor and LatAm Sourcing Expert

We caught up with German Dominguez, an independent sourcing advisor helping U.S. manufacturers to best-cost-country-source direct materials where it is most advantageous in Latin America, mainly within The Pacific Alliance region (Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile) — the largest emerging markets economic bloc in Latin America. Read more

A Washington, D.C. federal judge on Tuesday rejected the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s bid to block operation of the Dakota Access pipeline on federal land in North Dakota, saying the tribe likely won’t be able to show that the federal government interfered with its exercise of religion on land outside the tribal reservation by allowing the project to go forward.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the tribes’ request for an injunction to withdraw permission issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the last, eight-mile link of the oil pipeline underneath Lake Oahe in North Dakota. Read more

After several hundred companies and individuals registered as potentially interested vendors, the Department of Homeland Security has added details to its request for Mexican border wall plans and delayed the procurement process by several days.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

The request for proposal is for a concrete wall structure or structures, nominally 30-ft. tall, that will meet requirements for “aesthetics, anti-climbing and resistance to tampering or damage,” according to a change in the solicitation plan posted to the DHS website on March 3.

Two-phase design-build procedures will be observed, under FAR Part 36.3, with Phase One of the RFP due on or about March 20th.

Under the procurement request, vendors must submit a concept paper of their prototype, which will result in the evaluation and down-selection. Offerers will then submit proposals to the full RFP, including prices, due on or about May 3, 2017.

Multiple awards of indefinite quantity, indefinite delivery contracts are anticipated, DHS said. Unless the full cost of the wall falls within DHS’ current budget for 2017, congress will have to appropriate money for its construction.

Not Only US-Made Steel After All

Speaking to reporters onboard Air Force One on Friday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the Keystone XL pipeline, which has been in the works for a decade, will be exempt from an executive order President Trump signed in January requiring new pipelines, repairs, or retrofits to use only U.S.-made steel “to the maximum extent possible.”

The justification for that decision is that the pipeline is already under construction, and so is not covered by the executive order.

“The Keystone XL Pipeline is currently in the process of being constructed, so it does not count as a new, retrofitted, repaired, or expanded pipeline,” Sanders said.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

While it’s true that some parts of Keystone XL have already been built and its developer, TransCanada Corp., has likely already purchased steel for some of it, the 1,200-mile pipeline that is planned to stretch from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska will likely require much more steel to be purchased before its eventual completion, a construction process likely to take years. The Dakota Access Pipeline that will run from North Dakota to Illinois, which has already restarted construction, was only eight miles of pipe from completion when the Obama administration stopped it last Fall and it, very likely, would not require more steel to be purchased for its completion.

President Donald Trump’s address to Congress this week included a defense department budget request which it claimed was historic.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

“I am sending Congress a budget that rebuilds the military, eliminates the defense sequester and calls for one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history,” he is quoted by the New York Times is saying.

What’s a Few Hundred Billion?

While claims that the proposed increase to the defense budget is historic might be stretching the truth, Trump’s proposal to add $54 billion to the Pentagon’s budget is said to amount to a 10% increase, a significant rise — If it was true. Unfortunately, the New York Times is not alone in questioning numbers. We have little interest here in making claims about fake news, but we’re more concerned about those communities and industries that rely on military spending for their livelihoods.

You want F-35 fighter jets with those carriers? Better add about $500 billion to that budget. Source: Adobe Stock/Spacekris.

Questions have been raised in recent years about the readiness of today’s U.S. military. After fighting two major wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, troops are said to be exhausted and supplies depleted. Even so, the U.S. spends more money on its military than the next seven countries combined. Read more

“The eagles are coming.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

Is it a case of the cash-strapped French military turning to a cheaper option or is it some kind of quasi-environmental option to train eagles in a counter drone role?

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape (Eagle Talon Cover Not Available Yet) and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

A ZDnet article explains that the French military turned to eagles to counter the threat of terrorist or insurgent drones, faced by a nation that considers itself almost under siege from terrorist attacks.

D'Artagon goes drone hunting

D’Artagnon may not have been a full Musketeer, but, trust him, you don’t want none, terrorist drones! Source: Youtube/French military.

At the Mont-de-Marsan military base in southwestern France, the four eagles under training, named after the fictitious four (Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan) heroes of Alexandre Dumas fame, have been undergoing training since June of last year. The article explains that since the November 2015 Paris attacks, France is on high alert for any kind of threat including those from unmanned aerial vehicles or drones feared for their potential to drop small bombs on civilian or even military targets.

In a demonstration at the base one eagle (D’Artagnan) took out an approaching drone at 200 meters in less than 20 seconds, earning himself a food treat. Indeed, food seems to be the key incentive. The young birds are trained from three months of age by serving food on the top of drone wreckage creating an association between UAVs and food, the article explains.

It would seem the French are not alone. Dutch law enforcement officers have also been experimenting with the use of eagles to take out drones. The Dutch police explained the attraction of the birds of prey is that they could takeout drone threats without the need to deploy weaponry which could injure innocents.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

But what about larger drones you may ask? Nevermind those little handheld models available in high street stores or online from hobby shops. Well, the French have a plan. Apparently, they intend to kit out their eagles with leather and kevlar mittens to protect the birds’ talons.

But, you have to ask, what could you reasonably put a 5-kg golden eagle up against before it became unfair competition? Terrorists are unlikely to get their hands on the monsters deployed by major armed forces like the U.S. Army but even category 2 UAVs, like Boeing’s ScanEagle which is used largely for reconnaissance, weigh in at about 20 kg and travel at up to 150km/hr That’s tough opposition for a 5-kg eagle, even if it can match it for top speed and may enjoy Kevlar mitts!

The Trump administration is developing a national trade policy that would seek to diminish the influence of the World Trade Organization in the U.S. and champion American law as a way to take on trading partners it blames for unfair practices, according to a draft document reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

In his speech to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, Trump said he wouldn’t let American workers and businesses be taken advantage of. “I believe strongly in free trade but it also has to be fair trade,” he said.

The Trump administration’s trade policy is forming. Source: Adobe Stock/Argus.

Some business groups and republicans who back traditional trade policy have hoped the new administration would moderate its most aggressive policy proposals to protect U.S. industries.

Departure From Previous Trade Policy

However, the policy contained in a draft document due to be published any day now, represents a dramatic departure from the Obama administration, which emphasized international economic rules and the authority of the Geneva-based WTO, an international body that regulates trade and resolves disputes among its members. Armed with what it sees as a broad mandate, the administration is moving forward with rules that would favor U.S. law over the conflict resolution mechanisms of the WTO. Read more

President Donald Trump today instructed the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review and reconsider a 2015 rule known as the Waters of the United States rule, a move that could ultimately make it easier for agricultural and development interests to drain wetlands and small streams.
Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

Standing in the Oval office surrounded by farmers, home builders and county commissioners, Trump said his directive was “paving the way for the elimination of this very destructive and horrible rule” that should have only applied to “navigable waters” affecting “interstate commerce.”

The WOTUS rule has long been controversial, as it expands the definition of “waters of the United States” — and by extension the agency’s jurisdiction over private and public lands and their uses — are to include ditches, retention ponds, runoff streams and other small bodies of water. Many states contended it was an overreach of existing statutes under the Clean Water Act. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the rule pending a court case, but that case is now moot as a result of President Trump’s actions.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

Manufacturers never liked the rule, which they considered a massive expansion of federal power not backed by law. The National Association of Manufacturers joined several states and other industry associations in filing the lawsuit against it.