This Morning in Metals: U.S. steel capacity utilization ticks up to 54.0%

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This morning in metals news, the U.S. steel sector’s capacity utilization rate moved up from the previous week, Australia’s Pilbara Ports Authority recently released shipping data for May and Tesla reportedly plans to expand its cobalt supply relationship with Glencore.

Steel capacity utilization reaches 54.0%

The U.S. steel sector’s steel capacity utilization rate for the week ending June 13, 2020, reached 54.0%, up from 53.3% the week prior, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI).

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Production for the week ending June 13 totaled 1.21 million net tons, down 35.1% from the same week in 2019 but up 1.3% from the week ending June 6, 2020.

Port Hedland throughput rises 4% year over year

May throughout at Australia’s Port Hedland, a critical iron ore terminal, rose 4% year over year, according to the Pilbara Ports Authority.

Monthly throughput reached 48.4 million tonnes, while imports totaled 176,000 million tonnes, up 12% year over year.

Tesla to expand Glencore relationship

Electric vehicle maker Tesla is reportedly planning to expand its cobalt supply relationship with miner Glencore, CNBC reported.

Tesla plans to use the cobalt to build lithium-ion batteries at its new Gigafactory in Berlin.

As we noted yesterday, Tesla recently released its 2019 impact report, in which it defended its cobalt supply chain practices, going so far as to state the automaker’s goal is to eventually eliminate cobalt entirely from its battery cells.

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Most of the world’s cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — approximately 71% of global cobalt mine production came from the country in 2019, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The cobalt mining sector has been the focus of numerous NGO reports featuring allegations of the use of child labor and generally unsafe working conditions, particularly in smaller, artisanal mining operations.

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