Nucor

The US steel industry is suffering because a barrage of imports has reached a record 34% of market share, steel executives said today at the American Iron and Steel Institute‘s press briefing in Chicago.

Nucor Corp. CEO John Ferriola said 4 million people whose livelihoods depend on the steel industry are at risk, but also that enforcing existing trade and anti-dumping laws consistently would make a wealth of difference for today’s producers.

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“The first step is enforcing existing law as written,” he said. “Legally and consistently enforcing the laws on the books would help immensely… The American worker is still the most efficient worker in the world. We have relatively inexpensive energy, we have the raw material available, we have the best market in the world. When you look at those natural advantages, it makes no sense we should be operating at 60-70% capacity while the rest of the world is overproducing.”

Chinese Dumping

“While many nations continue to engage in unfair trade practices, China is of particular concern,” Baske said. “Last year, China exported 101 million metric tons. A surge of 60% over the previous year and that increase continued at record levels in the first quarter of this year. Some estimates are as high as 468 million mt. Steel demand in China declined last year and is expected to decline this year, too, according to the World Steel Association. China also manipulates its currency to give its products an unfair advantage.”

Baske also noted the business decisions US steelmakers have had to make due to declining prices due to the import surge and they are still in a difficult position due to what the glut has done to prices on the London Metal Exchange.

“On Sept. 3, almost eight months ago, hot-rolled ran $676 a ton. Now it’s $440 a ton,” he said. “In any industry, a 35% to 36% price reduction in that period of time would put pressure on the business. Fair trade will correct it.”

WTO Relief

The executives also noted that while bringing anti-dumping cases with the US International Trade Commission and the World Trade Organization has been somewhat successful, the process has not always worked in the favor of US producers. Even cases that were won, such as last year’s rebar case against Turkey, have not had high enough tariffs to discourage dumping. Gibson said the standard in a safeguard case is higher than in a trade case and the AISI, and the industry as a whole, continue to evaluate all options under the law.

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U.S. Steel Corp. received approval for its Alabama electric arc furnace this week.

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Wouldn’t it be great to have your own backyard EAF? You could make your own steel products — such as big, giant swords — from scrap such as old appliances and discarded steel or tin cans. Even if you’re not reusing the metal, you could melt just about anything.

King of Random Grant Thompson explains how on YouTube. This lifehack shows how the electrodes from lantern batteries and an alumina-silicate refractory brick can be used to make your own mini EAF. There is also a nice tutorial on how to make your own zinc ingots here, too.

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MetalCrawler crawls the web for the latest metal news. Today in metals, Molycorp reports another loss, Detroit has gotten serious about stopping scrap metal theft and former Nucor CEO Dan DiMicco has a plan to get America working again.

Molycorp reported net revenues for the last quarter of 2014 were $116.2 million, a 6% decrease from the third quarter. Full year 2014 net revenues were $475.6 million, a 14% decrease as compared to 2013. The California-based rare earths producer reported a net loss of $1.43 per share for the quarter and a net loss of $0.39 per share for the quarter on an adjusted, non-GAAP basis.

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However, Molycorp did report higher production volumes in the fourth quarter at its Mountain Pass, Calif., rare earth facility, with 1,328 metric tons of rare earth oxide equivalent production. That compares to 1,034 mt in the fourth quarter of 2013 and 691 mt in the third quarter of 2014. Full year 2014 production at Mountain Pass totaled approximately 4,769 mt, compared to 3,473 mt in 2013.

For generations, scavengers have prowled Detroit with impunity, pouncing on abandoned properties and light poles to pilfer steel, copper and other metals they could trade for cash at scrapyards. The practice left tens of thousands of buildings so damaged that they could not be restored, turning places like the North End into grim cityscapes straight out of a Tim Burton movie. In recent years, the city has become serious about fighting back. It razed dozens of rickety homes — lucrative scrapping targets — in that neighborhood alone in the past year. Residents have become increasingly vigilant about chasing scrappers away from their blocks, lawmakers have enacted rules making it more difficult to turn a quick profit from scrapping, and the police and private and public agencies have stepped up enforcement. The New York Times examines the effect on the city and the destitute scrappers, themselves.

Former Nucor Corp. CEO Dan DiMicco writes in his new book “American Made: Why Making Things Will Return Us to Greatness” that it’s high time to kick up the pace of US manufacturing. To do that, America must enforce its trade agreements to clamp down on cheating (particularly by China), invest trillions of dollars in US infrastructure and cut the corporate tax to bring corporate investment back to these shores. “American Made” was released March 3.

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Morningstar‘s new report “Strike While the Iron is… Cold,” claims that iron ore’s new normal will mean lower steel prices and a flatter cost curve for the major steel producers.

FREE Download: The Monthly MMI® Report – covering Steel/Iron Ore markets.

Morningstar Research Analyst Andrew Lane wrote that, relative to other industries in the basic materials space, the steel industry exhibits a very flat cost curve.

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Morningstar has published an in-depth research report, “Strike While the Iron is…Cold?” arguing that cheap iron ore will have profound implications for the steel industry. Iron ore’s new normal will mean lower steel prices and a flatter cost curve. At the company level, cheaper iron ore means different things for different players.

FREE Download: The Monthly MMI® Report – covering Steel/Iron Ore markets.

Morningstar reports low iron ore prices will redefine how steelmakers compete. Input costs will remain a key driver of competitiveness but will diminish in relative importance.

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Fear not, trusty readers: MetalMiner is here for you. No, we won’t cuddle or spoon with you – but when it comes to metal spoons from foreign exporters coming into the picture, rest assured, we’re on it.

That’s because MetalMiner, operating within a media sector that loves acronyms, is AODW – Always On Dump Watch. Whether it’s tariffs, countervailing duties, anti-subsidy measures, value-add, value-subtract, you name it…we’re watching. And analyzing what it could mean for metal buyers.

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The US recently lost a case in front of a three-judge WTO panel concerning state-owned-enterprises from India and China. Does an SOE such as Baosteel really receive no international market advantage because it does not exercise government authority in China?

FREE Download: The Monthly MMI® Report – covering Steel/Iron Ore markets.

The ruling further muddies the picture of an international trading system created without SOEs in mind.

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Cheap steel products have been flowing into the United States from China, South Korea, India and elsewhere, making it much tougher for any domestic steel producer price increases to stick – and it looks as though it may be impossible to stem the tide of flooding imports anytime soon.

Record steel import numbers are harming the likes of AK Steel, Nucor and other producers, and foreign producers such as Vallourec and Tenaris getting more capacity online in the US surely isn’t helping. According to reporting by John Miller of the Wall Street Journal, “First-quarter steel imports by U.S. companies rose 36% from a year earlier to 10.6 million metric tons, according to research firm Global Trade Information Services. That was the highest level since the record 13 million tons reached in 2006.”

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According to another recent report by the Economic Policy Institute and law firm Stewart and Stewart, some 583,600 total jobs, including more than 200,000 in related manufacturing sectors, are at risk of going “poof” if imports dethrone the competitiveness of domestic steel production.

The US steel industry is not the only one being hit – aluminum imports are also at record highs.

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At the Institute for Supply Management’s annual conference, we endeavored to examine the legislative and regulatory issues of concern to both manufacturing organizations as well as business in general and at the same time, to try to bridge the gap between today’s regulatory environment and the supply management function.

We also wanted to address the role of procurement with regard to the regulatory environment by specifically addressing the questions of what should the role of procurement be in quantifying cost/benefit impacts of various regulations on the business? Should this be solely left in the hands of corporate public affairs or should procurement take on a more active role?

FREE Download: The Monthly MMI® Report – price trends for 10 metal markets.

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We preach a very specific gospel on industrial metal sourcing here at MetalMiner, and the arguments of a couple recent articles help shed light on how we view purchasing metal in today’s day and age. It all boils down to using data and information strategically to better compete in a global marketplace. Let us lay out […]

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