This Morning in Metals: Congo locks down mining province after coronavirus cases

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This morning in metals news, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has reportedly locked down a mining province for 48 hours, the U.S. steel sector’s steel capacity utilization rate is 81.7% for the year through March 14 and Ford provided an update on its North American operations amid the coronavirus crisis.

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DRC announces 48-hour mining province lockdown

The DRC announced a 48-hour lockdown of the Haut-Katanga mining province after two people tested positive for the coronavirus, Reuters reported.

The province is home to significant amounts of copper and cobalt (a majority of the world’s cobalt is mined in the country).

U.S. steel capacity reaches 81.7%

The U.S. steel sector’s capacity utilization rate for the year through March 14 reached 81.7%, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported.

The sector produced 20.1 million tons of steel during the period, up 0.4% from production during the same period in 2019.

Ford to reassess NA plant closure timeline

Last week, Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler announced the suspension of their North American operations in an effort to help mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Ford had announced plans to reopen March 30, but the automaker is now reconsidering.

Ford’s top priority is the health and safety of our employees, dealers, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders,” said Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president of North America. “In light of various governments’ orders to stay and work from home, Ford is not planning to restart our plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico on Monday, March 30 as originally hoped.

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“We are assessing various options and working with union leaders – including the United Auto Workers and Unifor – on the optimal timing for resuming vehicle production, keeping the wellbeing of our workforce top of mind.”

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