This Morning in Metals: US, EU to tackle steel, aluminum overcapacity

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This morning in metals news: the United States Trade Representative today announced the US and EU will begin discussions aimed at addressing global steel and aluminum overcapacity; meanwhile, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) and United Steelworkers union issued their own statements on the news; and, lastly, three major miners have launched a competition for innovators to come up with designs for electrified mine truck fleets.

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US, EU to begin talks on global steel, aluminum overcapacity

China steel production

Zhao Jiankang/AdobeStock

The US and EU have formally kickstarted new discussions on how to tackle the problems of global steel and aluminum overcapacity.

“United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo, and European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis today announced the start of discussions to address global steel and aluminum excess capacity,” the USTR said in a release today. “During a virtual meeting last week, the leaders acknowledged the need for effective solutions that preserve our critical industries, and agreed to chart a path that ends the WTO disputes following the U.S. application of tariffs on imports from the EU under section 232.”

In addition, per the statement, the parties aim to find solutions to the challenges before the end of the year.

AISI, USW reactions

Meanwhile, the American Iron and Steel Institute reacted to the news of the renewed overcapacity talks.

“We are grateful for the administration’s commitment to addressing this crisis, to preserving and improving measures to address unfair trade and to recognizing that the American steel industry is critical to our national and economic security,” AISI President and CEO Kevin Dempsey said.

“To be successful, the bilateral discussions must take into account that, while China is the single largest source of global steel oversupply, subsidies and other market distorting policies in many countries are contributing to the overcapacity crisis —and that injurious surges in imports have come from every region of the world.”

Furthermore, the United Steelworkers union also commented on the news, warning that China is not the only culprit.

“It’s no secret that the U.S. steel and aluminum sectors have been victimized by foreign unfair trade practices and global overcapacity,” USW said. “While China is the principal driver of the problems facing producers here in the United States, others also contributed to this injury.

“As the United States and European Union engage in bilateral consultations, we are supportive of efforts to resolve the threats to our producers and our members.

“However, we cannot support any approaches that do not provide measurable positive results. The EU is an important ally, but in the past, it has been part of the problem, not part of the solution.”

Miners launch electrification competition

Three of the world’s largest miners have started a competition that will call on innovators to develop concepts for “large-scale haul truck electrification systems.”

Rio Tinto, BHP and Vale have launched the Charge On Innovation Challenge, which aims to bring in new concepts for electrified mine fleet vehicles that will result in lower levels of harmful emissions.

“The Challenge is expected to attract additional interest from resource companies that maintain substantial haul truck fleets and are looking for innovative concepts to deliver electricity to large battery-electric haul trucks,” Rio Tinto said in a release.

“Current stationary charging systems require substantial time to charge large trucks, which would result in significant lost productivity. The mining industry needs multi-megawatt scale fast charging concepts capable of delivering around 400kWh to charge (and propel) a truck within the truck’s haul cycle (load, travel, dump, return, queue).”

In addition, the expression of interest process for the competition will begin Tuesday, May 18.

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