This Morning in Metals: China’s aluminum output up over first two months

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This morning in metals news, China’s aluminum production through the first two months of the year was up despite the coronavirus outbreak, Rio Tinto offered an update on measures being undertaken at the Oyu Tolgoi project and the Federal Reserve has cut rates to nearly zero.

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China’s aluminum production rises

Despite the coronavirus outbreak and the resulting extension of the Lunar New Year holiday, China’s aggregate aluminum production during the first two months of the year was greater than that of the same period in 2019.

According to Reuters, China’s aluminum production during the period rose 2.4%.

Rio Tinto to work with Mongolian authorities to curb COVID-19 spread

Miner Rio Tinto announced it is cooperating with authorities in Mongolia to implement measures aimed at preventing the further spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Rio Tinto operates the massive Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold project — in the South Gobi region Mongolia — which is still under construction and jointly owned by the Mongolian government and Turquoise Hill Resources (Rio Tinto owns 50.8% of Turquoise Hill Resources).

“Since January the movement of goods and people within Mongolia have been restricted within and across its border and this has further escalated recently as the first case of COVID-19 has occurred in the country,” Rio Tinto wrote Monday.

“Work on the Underground Project continues, however, progress is being slowed as a result of these measures. There is restricted access for teams from Rio Tinto, Oyu Tolgoi and our construction partners to oversee development and provide specialist technical services. The availability of specialist service providers at the site is essential to safely continue work on technical activities such as the headframe commissioning of Shafts 3 and 4.”

Fed cuts rates again

In the world of monetary policy aimed at mitigating the economic impact of COVID-19, the U.S. Federal Reserve on Sunday announce it is cutting its federal funds rate down to nearly zero, down to 0-0.25%.

“The coronavirus outbreak has harmed communities and disrupted economic activity in many countries, including the United States,” the Fed said Sunday. “Global financial conditions have also been significantly affected.”

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The cut comes after three rate cuts in 2019 and a rate cut in early March, when the Fed dropped the federal funds rate by half a percentage point to 1-1.25%.

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