Author Archives: Fouad Egbaria

This morning in metals news: tin prices have surged; Norsk Hydro announced the end of a previously announced battery initiative; and, lastly, Cleveland-Cliffs is buying a ferrous scrap processor.

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Tin prices gain

tin

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As we noted earlier this week, news that Indonesia is considering a tin export ban is offering some support to tin prices.

LME three-month tin reached $39,250 per metric ton this week, up 7.2% month over month, according to MetalMiner Insights data.

Meanwhile, from a technical perspective, LME tin trading volumes reached a November peak of 7,138 on Nov. 16. Volumes fell as low as 2,538 later in the month before bouncing back up.

Subscribers can find more tin insights in this month’s Monthly Metal Outlook report.

Norsk Hydro announces end to battery initiative

Earlier this year, Norsk Hydro announced plans to extend its joint battery initiative with Panasonic and energy firm Equinor.

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This morning in metals news: OPEC held its 23rd ministerial meeting today amid falling oil prices; meanwhile, the United States International Trade Commission issued a ruling on import relief for the domestic crystalline silicon photovoltaic cell sector; and, lastly, the trade ministers of the U.S., Japan and the E.U. convened this week.

Want more from MetalMiner? We offer exclusive analyst commentary in our weekly updates – all metals, no sales fluff. 

OPEC meets as oil prices retreat

crude oil

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Rising oil prices have been yet another strain on consumers, whether commercial users or everyday motorists at the pump. Oil prices are also a key factor in MetalMiner’s commodity trends analysis.

In the U.S., pre-Thanksgiving gasoline prices reached their highest level this year since 2012.

However, oil prices this past week have lost ground quickly. The WTI crude price, for example, closed Wednesday at $65.57 per barrel, down $12.82 per barrel from the previous week, the Energy Information Administration reported.

OPEC, meanwhile, convened via videoconference today for its 23rd ministerial meeting, during which it agreed to maintain previously agreed output schedules. The group agreed to “reconfirm the production adjustment plan and the monthly production adjustment mechanism approved at the 19th ONOMM and the decision to adjust upward the monthly overall production by 0.4 mb/d for the month of January 2022, as per the attached schedule.”

USITC votes on import relief for PV cell makers

United States International Trade Commission (USITC) voted to keep import relief measures in place for domestic producers of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells.

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Chilean copper producer Codelco, the world’s largest, indicated it could see copper prices coming down in 2022.

According to a Reuters report, Codelco CEO Octavio Araneda said prices in 2022 will likely come in slightly lower than in 2021.

As we’ve noted recently, MetalMiner is hosting its final webinar of the year on Wednesday, Dec. 8, during which the MetalMiner team will overview price predictions for metals in 2022. Those interested in participating in the session can sign up on the MetalMiner Events page.

Copper prices stabilize

copper mine

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Like aluminum, LME copper prices on the LME surged to $10,270 per metric ton in late October, according to MetalMiner Insights data.

The price fell back to close the month, however, closing October at $9,490 per metric ton.

Since then, the copper price has trended sideways.

From a technical perspective, LME copper trading volumes reached a November high of 145,635 as of Nov. 2. Volumes fell as low as 69,991 on Nov. 25, during which prices surged briefly and approached MetalMiner resistance levels.

However, the stronger the trading volume, the greater the significance of a corresponding price movement (and vice versa). As such, after jumping to just under $9,900 per metric ton Nov. 25, the price retreated.

LME three-month copper closed the month at $9,510 per metric ton.

Political crossroads

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This morning in metals news: the U.S. steel capacity utilization rate fell to 83.2% last week; North American Stainless maintained its stainless steel fuel surcharge; and, lastly, crude oil prices have lost steam this week.

Each month, MetalMiner hosts a webinar on a specific metals topic. The MetalMiner team will discuss price predictions for 2022 during its final webinar of the year, scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 8. 

US steel capacity utilization rate hits 83.2%

steel production

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The U.S. steel capacity utilization rate fell to 83.2% for the week ending Nov. 27, down from 84.3% the previous week, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported.

Steel output last week totaled 1.84 million net tons. The total marked a 1.3% decline from the previous week but a 13.3% year-over-year gain.

For the year to date, production reached 86.3 million net tons, or up 19.7% year over year.

U.S. steel prices have finally started to soften. U.S. HRC closed last week at $1,793 per short ton, according to MetalMiner Insights data, or down 5.6% month over month. Meanwhile, U.S. CRC closed at $2,111, down 0.3% month over month.

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Recently, MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns delved into the aluminum market deficit, one in which limited aluminum supply and elevated delivery premiums have been persistent features.

However, perhaps to some aluminum buyers’ relief, some supply is coming back online next year.

Each month, MetalMiner hosts a webinar on a specific metals topic. Sign up for the last session of the year, scheduled for Wednesday Dec. 8, during which the MetalMiner team will discuss price predictions for 2022. 

Alcoa to restart idled smelter

Alcoa logo

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Alcoa Corporation earlier this month announced plans to restart an aluminum smelter that had sat idle since 2009.

The firm said it will restart the joint venture Portland Aluminium smelter in Australia, which has a total annual capacity of 358,000 metric tons per year.

However, Alcoa said it plans to restart 35,000 metric tons of capacity.

“Portland Aluminium is an unincorporated joint venture with 358,000 mtpy of total capacity, and Alcoa Corporation has 197,000 mtpy of consolidated capacity,” Alcoa said. “Once the restart is complete, Portland Aluminium will operate at approximately 95 percent of total capacity and Alcoa Corporation will have approximately 186,000 mtpy of its consolidated capacity at Portland operating.”

Renewed production at the Australian smelter is slated to begin in Q3 2022.

In September, Alcoa announced plans to restart its Alumar aluminum smelter in Brazil. The smelter, which has annual capacity of 268,000 metric tons per year, has been idle since 2015.

Midwest premium eases

As Stuart Burns has explained throughout the year, rising aluminum premiums reflect market tightness.

“The aluminum market is undeniably tight, as consumers are having to wait months for metal and the Midwest Premium rises,” Burns wrote back in March. “In some locations — Europe, in particular —  consumers of rolled plate cannot secure new production space until well into Q3.

“Some mills have even pulled out of quoting for new business customers in 2021. Anti-dumping legislation on flat rolled products from China and a fire last year at a Russian rolling mill have combined dramatically restrict supply options for consumers.”

Fast forward to Q4, and inventories in LME depots have continued to dwindle, Burns explained while also covering the background of the post-financial crisis aluminum market and the history of the so-called “stock and finance” trade and the shadowy world of off-warrant stocks.

However, the Midwest aluminum premium has lost some steam over the last couple of months. according to MetalMiner Insights data.

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This morning in metals news: General Motors announced it had purchased a stake in Pure Watercraft, a firm specializing in “all-electric boating solutions”; aluminum prices ticked up ahead of Thanksgiving; and, lastly, Thyssenkrupp commissioned its 35th EnviNOx® system, which reduces nitrous oxide emissions.

Cut-to-length adders. Width and gauge adders. Coatings. Feel confident in knowing what you should be paying for metal with MetalMiner should-cost models.

GM buys stake in electric watercraft firm

General Motors headquarters in Detroit, Michigan

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When it comes to the automotive space and electrification, we typically focus on EVs that operate on land.

However, automaker General Motors recently announced it had purchased a stake in Pure Watercraft, which produces all-electric boating solutions. GM purchased a 25% stake in the Seattle-based firm.

“The collaboration between GM and Pure Watercraft advances a shared vision to promote sustainability through an expansion of zero-emissions mobility for future generations and reflects the holistic approach necessary for widespread EV adoption,” GM said.

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While you may be busy putting the finishing touches on your Thanksgiving spread and, subsequently, taking a turkey-induced nap, you might find some time to revisit this week’s coverage, including oil prices, global crude steel production and much more.

Thanksgiving

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But first, in case you missed it, MetalMiner is hosting its final monthly webinar of the year at 10:00 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, Dec. 8. Metal buying organizations will not want to miss it, as the MetalMiner team will delve into price predictions for 2022. For more information about the webinar and to sign up, those interested should visit the MetalMiner Events page.

Elsewhere, MetalMiner also recently launched a suite of precious metals within the MetalMiner Insights platform. In addition to gold and silver, the suite includes platinum and palladium (of particular relevance to the automotive sector), plus rhodium, iridium and ruthenium.

Without further ado, here’s a recap of this week’s coverage:

We’re off today and tomorrow but will resume regular coverage Monday.

But for now, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, MetalMiner readers!

This morning in metals news: U.S. GDP increased by 2.1% in Q3 2021, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported in its latest estimate; new home sales increased in October; and, lastly, average U.S. gasoline prices are higher this Thanksgiving holiday than any since 2012.

Each month, MetalMiner hosts a webinar on a specific metals topic. The final webinar of the year is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 8, during which the MetalMiner team will overview predictions for 2022. For more information and to sign up for the webinar, visit the MetalMiner events page

US GDP up 2.1%

US GDP

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According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis today, U.S. real GDP increased at an annual rate of 2.1% in Q3. The figure is the bureau’s second estimate for Q3 GDP.

U.S. GDP increased by 6.7% in Q2 2021.

“The increase in third quarter GDP reflected the continued economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the BEA reported. “A resurgence of COVID-19 cases resulted in new restrictions and delays in the reopening of establishments in some parts of the country. Government assistance payments in the form of forgivable loans to businesses, grants to state and local governments, and social benefits to households all decreased.”

New home sales tick up in October

New home sales in the U.S. increased by 0.4% in October from the previous month, the Census Bureau reported.

Sales reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 745,000 in October.

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Yesterday, MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns touched on the aluminum market and plummeting inventories, a trend in stark contrast to former times of plenty.

Meanwhile, in the steel market, global crude steel production totaled 145.7 million metric tons in October, the World Steel Association reported.

Do you know the five best practices of sourcing metals, including steel?

Steel production slides

steel production

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The October steel total marked a decline of 10.6% on a year-over-year basis. Meanwhile, output increased by 0.4% compared with the previous month.

In China, the world’s top steel producer, output peaked this year at 99.5 million tons in May. Since then, China’s output has declined each month, according to the World Steel Association.

The country’s October steel production totaled 71.6 million tons, down from 73.8 million tons in September.

The pace of GDP growth in China slowed to 4.9% in Q3, according to National Bureau of Statistics data. GDP had increased by 7.9% year over year in Q2 2021.

For the year to date, China’s output of 877.1 million tons marks a year-over-year decline of 0.7%.

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This morning in metals news: Norsk Hydro plans to begin construction on its new aluminum recycling plant in Cassopolis, Michigan, in Q2 2022; meanwhile, U.S. utilities are spending more on electricity delivery; and, lastly, the United States International Trade Commission recently voted to continue investigations regarding imports of oil country tubular goods from Argentina, Mexico, Russia and South Korea.

Make sure you are following the five best practices of sourcing aluminum

Construction to begin next year on Hydro’s new Michigan aluminum recycling plant

Norsk Hydro

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Norsk Hydro said it is on track to begin construction in Q2 2022 on its new aluminum recycling plant in Cassopolis, Michigan.

“The Cassopolis greenfield development will mark the first large-scale production of Hydro CIRCAL® extrusion ingot in North America. We look forward to bringing this high-quality, low-carbon product to our most demanding customers,” said Eivind Kallevik, executive vice president of Hydro Aluminium Metal.

The extrusion ingot will be used in automotive, construction and consumer applications, in addition to building systems. The plant will have annual capacity of 120,000 tons per year.

Utilities pay more for electricity delivery

U.S. utilities are paying for more electricity delivery but less for power production, the Energy Information Administration reported today.

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