This Morning in Metals: Chinese steel exports surge in June

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This morning in metals news: Chinese steel exports surged in June, according to General Administration of Customs data; meanwhile, the average cost for U.S. solar power construction continued to decline in 2019; and, lastly, Cleveland-Cliffs released its Sustainability Report 2020.

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Chinese steel exports jump in June

China map

Zerophoto/Adobe Stock

Chinese steel exports jumped by 23% to 6.49 million tons in June, the General Administration of Customs reported this week.

The country reported steel exports 5.27 million tons in May.

Meanwhile, exports of unwrought aluminum and aluminum products reached 454,397 tons in June, up from 439,097 tons in May.

In addition, exports of rare earths fell from 4,171 tons in May to 4,012 tons in June.

Declining solar production costs

In the energy sector, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported average U.S. solar production costs fell in 2019.

“The annual capacity-weighted average construction costs for solar photovoltaic systems in the United States continued to decrease in 2019, dropping by a little less than 3%, according to our latest data on newly constructed utility-scale electric generators,” the EIA reported. “The average costs for wind turbines remained relatively stable in 2019, increasing $9 per kilowatt (kW), or a little less than 1% from the 2018 average. Costs for natural gas-fired generators had the largest change from 2018 to 2019, increasing $241/kW, or almost 29%.”

Cleveland-Cliffs releases Sustainability 2020 report

Lastly, Cleveland-Cliffs today released its Sustainability 2020 report, in which its CEO Lourenco Goncalves touted the company’s integrated steelmaking structure.

“As we transformed our business in 2020, we developed an integrated, sustainable business model which we believe is the real benchmark in steel production, for the United States and for the rest of the world,” Goncalves said. “That includes natural gas based Direct Reduction; sinter-free blast furnaces using pre-reduced iron as feedstock, along with customized pellets; and, last but not least, Electric Arc Furnaces free from the vast amounts of dirty pig iron originating from highly polluting countries, so common in other EAF operations in the United States.”

In the report, the company pledges to reduce carbon emissions by 25% by 2030 (compared with 2017 levels). In addition, the report touts the company’s “first natural-gas based, low-carbon Direct Reduction Plant for high-quality hot briquetted iron (HBI) production.”

The full 74-page report is available in the “Sustainability” section of the company’s website.

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