This Morning in Metals: Aluminum prices rally; Rio Tinto to acquire lithium project; Biden signs proclamation adjusting steel imports

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This morning in metals news: aluminum prices have rallied to close the year; Rio Tinto is acquiring a lithium mining project; and, lastly, the American Iron and Steel Institute commented on the president’s proclamation this week adjusting steel imports.

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Aluminum prices jump at the end of year

aluminum price

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Aluminum prices have rallied at the end of this year after previously falling off the October peak.

LME three-month aluminum closed last week at $2,841 per metric ton, according to MetalMiner Insights data. The price is up 5.8% month over month.

The LME price had surged to $3,200 in October before crashing to nearly $2,500 per metric ton. The price then stabilized until the last two weeks, when it jumped to its current level.

Supply concerns at the end of the year have supported the aluminum price. According to a Bloomberg report, the Dunkerque smelter, Europe’s largest aluminum smelter, has reduced output in recent weeks in response to rising power costs.

Rio Tinto to acquire lithium project

Rio Tinto announced it will acquire a lithium mining project in Argentina.

The miner will acquire the project from Rincon Mining for $825 million.

“This acquisition is strongly aligned with our strategy to prioritise growth capital in commodities that support decarbonisation and to continue to deliver attractive returns to shareholders,” CEO Jakob Stausholm said. “The Rincon project holds the potential to deliver a significant new supply of battery-grade lithium carbonate, to capture the opportunity offered by the rising demand driven by the global energy transition.”

AISI comments on Section 232 proclamation

President Joe Biden on Monday signed a proclamation to adjust imports of steel from the E.U.

The proclamation included the previously announced agreement between the U.S. and the E.U. bloc to ease tariff tensions. The U.S. agreed to impose a tariff-rate quota of approximately 3.3 million tons. Meanwhile, the U.S. avoided a planned doubling of E.U. tariffs on U.S. goods.

The quota arrangement is set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2022. Furthermore, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo will publish a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comment regarding the exclusion process.

“Within 60 days of the close of the comment period of the notice, the Secretary shall issue a proposed regulation revising the exclusion process as deemed appropriate following consideration of such comments,” the White House said Monday.

The American Iron and Steel Institute issued a statement on the proclamation.

“AISI welcomes the president’s action to implement a tariff-rate quota (TRQ) under Section 232 on steel products imported from the EU in accordance with the agreement reached by the U.S. and EU last October,” AISI President and CEO Kevin Dempsey said. “We are particularly gratified that the president’s proclamation emphasizes that only steel melted and poured in the EU will benefit from this alternative arrangement. Proper implementation and enforcement of the TRQ will be crucial to preventing another steel import surge that would undermine our industry and destroy good paying American jobs.”

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