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It’s that time — our latest Monthly Metals Index (MMI) report is in, covering the final month of 2017.

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So, before we move onto 2018 for good, let’s take one last look at our newest MMI report and recap some of the highlights:

    • Our January MMI saw seven of 10 sub-indexes move upward, with two holding flat and one dropping (the Construction MMI fell by one point).
    • The biggest winner of the month was the Stainless Steel MMI, which rose 9.2%. Skyrocketing LME nickel prices backed the jump. After hovering around $10,600/metric ton in October, nickel jumped near $13,000/mt last month, and continued to climb in the early days of 2018.
    • The Copper and Aluminum MMIs also went up, by 3.5% and 3.2%, respectively.
    • In the Global Precious MMI, palladium continues to outperform platinum, continuing a run that has bucked historical trends vis-a-vis the two platinum-group metals.
    • The GOES MMI also had a good month, picking up seven points via a 3.8% increase. GOES typically does not follow the price patterns of other forms of steel, but it did this past month.

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You can read about all of the aforementioned — and much more — by downloading the January MMI report below.

Zerophoto/Adobe Stock

It’s been great going for India’s state-owned National Aluminium Company (NALCO). Its revenues in sale of alumina are up by 30% year-over-year and it has reported a 94% jump in net profit.

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The company has now lined up some new projects.

According to reports, NALCO is said to be contemplating a high-end aluminum products plant by availing technology from foreign suppliers. The project is intended to provide for future applications of aluminum in bullet trains, aerospace and electric vehicles, all three of which are coming to India.

T.K. Chand, NALCO’s chairman and managing director, was quoted as saying that the technology for high end aluminum products plants was not available in India, so Nalco was in talks with potential suppliers in the U.S. and Russia to avail their technologies. The company had already floated an Expression of Interest (EoI) to select the technology supplier.

If successful, the proposed plant is likely to come up within the aluminum park at Angul in Odisha province.

Earlier this month, the aluminum major inaugurated three major projects at a total cost of about U.S. $94 million (Rs 660 crore). One was a bauxite mine, the second a 18.5 MW power unit at alumina refinery, Damanjodi and a nanotechnology-based defluoridation plant at Angul.

The aluminum park that Chand referred to was being developed jointly by NALCO and state-owned Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation.

NALCO has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Indian Defense Ministry Public Sector Unit Mishra Dhatu Nigam Ltd for the manufacture of high-end aluminum alloys.

Aluminum is not only in the weapons and aerospace sector but also in vehicles (especially electric vehicles).

In an interview with The Economic Times recently, Nalco’s CMD spoke of his plans to make the company a  1-million-ton aluminum player by 2020. He said NALCO’s capacity today was at 4.6 lakh ton, of which, this year, it would be producing around 4.2 lakh (420,000) tons. In 2018-2019, the company planned to ramp up production to 4.6 lakh (460,000) tons. The addition of a new smelter would take it to over 1 million tons for aluminum.

When asked for the reason behind NALCO’s alumina sales volume jumping by 30% year on year, Chand replied that the increase in revenue, particularly in alumina, came because of change in NALCO’s strategy. Earlier, the company would sign a long-term agreement for sale of alumina in the international markets, but it did not give much benefit in case of a rising market. Thereafter, with the market price going up, it had switched strategy of spot tenders. This was what led to the prices increasing from U.S. $280 to as high as $527.

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Growth in volume was also achieved since NALCO was able to achieve a 100% capacity utilization of aluminum refinery.