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This morning in metals news, Aeris Resources Ltd. has put in a big offer for a Glencore mine in Australia, trade volumes at the Port of Brownsville increased 6.6% in 2018 and one consultancy says U.S. tariffs on aluminum have actually driven Chinese exports of the metal.

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Aeris Bids for Glencore Mine in Australia

According to a MarketWatch report, Australian firm Aeris Resources Ltd. has put in a $575 million offer for a Glencore mine in eastern Australia (the story was first reported by the Australian Financial Review).

According to a release from Aeris, funding for the offer has not yet been finalized.

“Broadly, the current offer by Aeris comprises $US575m in mix of cash (approximately US$525m) and Aeris shares (approximately US$50m) plus a royalty payable to Glencore,” the release stated.

Trade Volumes Rise at Port of Brownsville

The Port of Brownsville, located on the U.S.-Mexico border in southeastern Texas, had a banner year in 2018.

“The Port of Brownsville set new records in tonnage and total operating revenue in 2018, moving 11.3 million tons of diverse cargos with operating revenues of more than $24.2 million,” a release from the port stated. “The results, announced today at the annual State of the Port Address, reveal a 6.6 percent increase in cargos, a 25 percent increase in rail movements, and a 2.5 percent increase in operating revenues from the previous year.”

“Congratulations to our partners, customers, and port users who all contributed to these new high-
water marks,” said John Reed, chairman of the Brownsville Navigation District, in the release. “Steel was up, almost all petroleum categories were up, dry bulk cement and sugar were way up.”

China’s Aluminum Exports

According to consultancy Wood Mackenzie, the U.S.’s tariffs on aluminum have actually “encouraged” China to export aluminum, S&P Global Platts reported.

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Using Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, the U.S. imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum in March 2018. The tariffs sparked concerns from some countries, including the European Union trading bloc, regarding the possibility of diverted supplies of Chinese steel and aluminum disrupting their domestic sectors. (As a result, the E.U. earlier this year imposed new steel safeguards.)

In addition, in April 2018 the E.U. announced it would begin monitoring levels of aluminum imports to determine if the Section 232 tariffs would lead to increased import levels.

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U.S. steel mills produced 1.93 million net tons of raw steel during the week ending March 16, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI).

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Production for the week — which came at a capacity utilization rate of 82.9% — was up 5.7% compared with the same week the previous year but down 0.6% from the previous week.

Adjusted year-to-date production through March 16 reached 20.3 million net tons — up 6.7% compared with the same period in 2018 — at a capacity rate of 81.4%. For the same period in 2018, mills produced 19.0 million tons at a capacity utilization rate of 76.6%.

By region, the Great Lakes holds the top spot in terms of steel production for the year through March 16:

  • North East: 226,000 net tons
  • Great Lakes: 729,000 net tons
  • Midwest: 205,000 net tons
  • Southern: 711,000 net tons
  • Western: 59,000 net tons

The U.S. steel sector’s capacity rate continues to climb on the heels of the Trump administration’s Section 232 action last year. In general, a capacity rate of 80% is considered a mark of a healthy industry.

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U.S. steelmakers increased production in 2018, as they were able to compete against reduced import levels (steel imports into the U.S. were down 12% year over year in 2018).

According to the World Steel Association, the U.S. produced 86.7 million tons of crude steel in 2018, up from 81.6 million tons in 2017.