This Morning in Metals: US steel capacity utilization dips slightly to 79.0%

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This morning in metals news: the US steel capacity utilization rate reached 79.0% last week; the state-owned Indonesia Battery Corporation and South Korea’s LG will build a $1.2 billion battery plant in Indonesia; and the copper price has cooled since reaching an all-time high earlier this month.

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US steel capacity utilization rate at 79.0%

hot rolled steel

niteenrk/Adobe Stock

US steel capacity utilization reached 79.0% for the week ending May 22, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported.

The rate marked a decline from 79.2% posted the previous week. Meanwhile, the rate for the same week in 2020 had reached just 54.6%.

Production during the week ending May 22 totaled 1,793,000 net tons, down 0.3% from the previous week. However, the output total marked an increase of 46.6% on a year-over-year basis.

$1.2B EV battery plant coming to Indonesia

The Indonesian government this week announced the state-owned Indonesia Battery Corporation and South Korea’s LG will build a $1.2 billion battery plant in Indonesia.

“With one-fourth of the global nickel ore reserves, a key battery material, Indonesia holds significant potential for electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturing,” said Bakar Sadik Agwan, senior automotive consulting analyst at GlobalData. “The country failed to realize its potential early, but in the recent past it has made significant progress to establish itself in the electric vehicle battery supply chain.

“Soon after launching Indonesia Battery Corporation (IBC), a partnership of  four state-owned companies in March 2021, the entity is ready to build a new battery plant in partnership with South Korea’s LG, a seasoned international EV battery maker. A production capacity of 10 GWh is aimed in the first phase, which will be largely used for Hyundai’s planned EV production in Indonesia.”

Copper price cools

The LME copper price surged to an all-time high above $10,700 per metric ton earlier this month.

Since then, the price has cooled off.

LME three-month copper closed Monday at $10,027 per metric ton.

Last week, MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns weighed in on the copper market and the possibility of overheating.

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