Author Archives: Fouad Egbaria

This morning in metals news: pre-Labor Day retail gasoline prices are at their highest level in seven years; meanwhile, payroll employment rose by 235,000 in August; and, lastly, Norilsk Nickel has signed an agreement to build a liquefied natural gas icebreaker.

You want more MetalMiner on your terms. Sign up for weekly email updates here.

Pre-Labor Day gasoline prices rise

gasoline pump

papzi/Adobe Stock

To the chagrin of those driving this holiday weekend, pre-Labor Day gasoline prices have reached their highest level since 2014, the Energy Information Administration reported.

The average gas price reached $3.15 per gallon as of Aug. 30.

Furthermore, the price marked a 42% jump compared with the same point in 2020.

Payroll employment up 235K

U.S. payroll employment picked up by 235,000 in August, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Furthermore, monthly job growth so far this year has averaged 586,000 per month.

Read more

The Automotive Monthly Metals Index (MMI) fell by 1.4% for this month’s MMI reading.

September 2021 Automotive MMI chart

 

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.

US auto sales

semiconductor and automobile

Maxim_Kazmin/Adobe Stock

Ford Motor Co. reported its August retail sales increased by 6.5% from the previous month.

However, retail sales declined by 39.6% on a year-over-year basis. Total sales fell by 33.1% year over year.

Ford truck and SUV sales fell by 35.7% and 30.4%, respectively.

The automaker also touted a record August for electric vehicle sales.

“Electrified vehicle sales were up 67.3 percent over last year for a total of 8,756 vehicles,” Ford said. “Electrified vehicles are bringing in new customers to Ford at a rate that is more than 8 points higher than Ford’s overall conquest rate.”

Meanwhile, General Motors, which reports on a quarterly basis, in July reported Q2 sales rose by 40%. In a letter to shareholders last month, CEO Mary Barra underlined the automaker’s effort toward achieving zero emissions. In addition, she said GM aims to develop “a full EV portfolio that doesn’t depend on partial solutions like hybrids and ‘electrified’ ICE vehicles.”

Honda, meanwhile, reported August sales fell by 15.6%, citing “industrywide parts supply issues.”

Read more

This morning in metals news: new orders for manufactured goods posted an increase in July from the previous month; meanwhile, U.S. productivity rose by 2.1% in Q2 2021; and, lastly, the U.S. goods and services trade deficit fell from June to July.

Want MetalMiner directly in your inbox? Sign up for weekly updates now.

New orders for manufactured goods rise 0.4%

automotive production

Anastasiia Usoltceva/Adobe Stock

New orders for manufactured goods rose by 0.4% in July, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today.

Furthermore, new orders for manufactured goods have increased in 14 of the last 15 months. July orders amounted to a value of $508.1 billion.

New orders had increased by 1.5% in June.

Productivity jumps 2.1%

U.S. nonfarm labor productivity increased by 2.1% in July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Read more

This morning in metals news: U.S. construction spending ticked up by 0.3% in July, the Census Bureau reported; meanwhile, unemployment rates declined in 388 of 389 metropolitan areas of the U.S. in July compared with July 2020; and, lastly, shale natural gas production from the Appalachian Basin hit record levels in the first half of 2021.

Better time your metal market purchases with the MetalMiner Insights platform. Request a demo.

US construction spending rises in July

construction site

tong2530/Adobe Stock

July construction spending reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,231 billion, the Census Bureau reported.

The July rate marked an increase of 0.3% from the previous month.

Residential construction spending reached a rate of $773.0 billion in July, or up 0.5%. Meanwhile, nonresidential reached a rate of $458.0 billion in July, down 0.2% from the previous month.

Unemployment declines

Reflecting improving economic conditions, unemployment rates in 388 of 389 U.S. metropolitan areas dropped in July compared with July 2020 rates, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Read more

While much of the world still depends on fossil fuels, demand for battery metals is surging.

The MetalMiner Best Practice Library offers a wealth of knowledge and tips to help buyers stay on top of metals markets and buying strategies.

Battery metal demand on the rise

battery energy storage

Cybrain/Adobe Stock

South African platinum and palladium producer Sibanye-Stillwater said increasing demand for battery metals is already impacting supply.

“While not yet having material impact on internal combustion engine vehicle sales, increasing demand for battery metals to meet requirements for electric vehicle production is already starting to have substantial implications for battery metal supply,” the South African firm said.

In short, the world will need to expand supply in order to meet that rising demand.

Demand for a variety of critical metals needed for the transition to renewables will be significant. Demand for everything from copper to cobalt is set to skyrocket, the IEA explained its in report titled “The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions.”

Today’s supply and investment plans for many critical minerals “fall well short” of what will be needed, the IEA said.

With demand set to increase many times over in the years ahead, there will need to be additional investment.

“The resultant increased demand for battery metals to support a prolonged expansion of the global battery electric vehicle (BEV) fleet over the next two to three decades, is going to require commensurate increase in the supply of battery metals,” Sibanye-Stillwater added. “Primary expansion of the scale needed to meet BEV growth projected by some market commentators, will be challenging.”

Steps toward the future

South Africa accounts for 70% of global production of platinum, used in catalytic converters to curb harmful emissions from automotive exhaust.

The South African firm touted its various efforts in the battery metals space. The firm acquired an initial stake in the Keliber lithium project in Finland. Furthermore, it made a proposal for the acquisition of the Sandouville nickel refinery in France.

Platinum, palladium output

Sibanye-Stillwater reported platinum and palladium production from its U.S. operations of 298,301 ounces for the six-month period ending June 30, 2021.

The total marked an increase from 297,740 ounces in H1 2020. However, output declined from the 305,327 ounces in H2 2020.

Meanwhile, 4E PGM (i.e., platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold) output in South Africa totaled 894,165 ounces in H1 2021. In H1 2020, 4E PGM output from the firm’s South Africa operations totaled 630,912 ounces.

More MetalMiner is available on LinkedIn.

This morning in metals news: U.S. steel capacity utilization dipped to 84.9% last week; North American Stainless said it is maintaining fuel surcharge; and, lastly, RUSAL earlier this month reported its interim H1 2021 results.

Stay up to date on MetalMiner with weekly updates – without the sales pitch. Sign up now.

Steel capacity utilization dips to 84.9%

steelmaking in an EAF

nikitos77/Adobe Stock

U.S. steel capacity utilization dipped to 84.9% for the week ending Aug. 28, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported.

Steel output during the week reached 1.87 million net tons. That weekly total marked a decline of 0.2% from the previous week. However, output increased by 26.9% on a year-over-year basis.

For the year to date, steel production reached 62.0 million net tons. Capacity utilization during that period reached 80.5%. During the same period in 2020, the rate reached just 66.6%, with output at 51.7 million net tons.

NAS updates fuel surcharge

North American Stainless (NAS) today said it will maintain its fuel surcharge of 27% for stainless flat and long products.

Read more

As has been well documented by now, demand for a wide variety of materials plunged on the heels of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

E.U. flag

Andrey Kuzmin/Adobe Stack

Among those materials, of course, is steel.  Consumer demand for steel-using products declined and construction projects came to a halt.

However, data from the European Steel Association show demand picking back up among EU28 nations this year.

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.

EU steel demand shows signs of recovery

Earlier this month, the European Steel Association (EUROFER) said apparent steel consumption in the EU28 rose by 3.6% in Q4 2020. In Q1 2021, apparent steel consumption rose by 0.9%.

“Although the general economic recovery in the EU appears to be uneven and exposed to risks, the recovery in steel-using industries and in steel demand should continue through 2021,”EUORFER Director General Axel Eggert said. “This is being driven by the stronger-than-expected recovery of industrial sectors, whose output is recovering the losses experienced during the pandemic.”

Read more

This morning in metals news: Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana on Sunday; copper prices have bounced back in the final third of August; and, lastly, Alro Steel has acquired metal distributor and service center Metal Stock.

You want more MetalMiner on your terms. Sign up for weekly email updates here.

Hurricane Ida hits Louisiana

hurricane image

Mike Mareen/Adobe Stock

Hurricane Ida barreled down on the Gulf Coast over the weekend, making landfall in Louisiana on Sunday.

On Friday, the Energy Information Administration summarized the potential energy impacts of the Category 4 storm.

“Typically, demand for transportation fuels increases rapidly in the days before the arrival of a hurricane in the affected areas as consumers purchase fuel to prepare for evacuation,” the EIA noted. “This rapid, unexpected increase in demand puts pressure on local inventories because the rest of the supply chain has not had time to respond. Louisiana has declared a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Ida’s landfall.”

The EIA maintains a mapping system that displays energy disruptions in locations with active storms.

Furthermore, in terms of trade, the Port of New Orleans is the fourth-largest port in the U.S. The port authorities said New Orleans Terminal and Ports America for containerized operations would be closed Monday, Aug. 30.

Copper bounces back

Despite supply concerns at mines around the world, particularly in South America, the copper price lost steam in the first half of August.

Read more

Before the weekend, let’s take a look back at the week that was and the metals storylines on MetalMiner:

The MetalMiner Best Practice Library offers a wealth of knowledge and tips to help buyers stay on top of metals markets and buying strategies.

lithium-ion battery

Olivier Le Moal/Adobe Stock

Week of Aug. 23-27 (lithium-ion battery challenges, Chinese steel merger and much more)

  • Chinese steelmakers Ansteel and Ben Gang will merge to form the world’s third-largest steelmaking company.
  • Global copper mine production rose by 4.8% through the first five months of the year.
  • Stuart Burns on the technological challenges posed by lithium-ion batteries.
  • Steel capacity utilization rose to 85.0% last week.
  • Norsk Hydro said it will expand capacity at its aluminum extrusion plant in Sjunnen, Sweden.
  • Sohrab Darabshaw took a look at Afghanistan’s rare earths and potential investments on the heels of the U.S. military’s pullout from the country.
  • U.S. steel imports rose by 17.4% through the first seven months of the year, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported.
  • Global aluminum production picked up in July, the International Aluminum Institute reported.
  • U.S. steel imports picked up in July, paced by a jump in imports of blooms, billets and slabs.
  • Norsk Hydro said it will extend its partnership with Equinor and Panasonic to explore the formation of a joint European battery business.
  • Global steel production fell on a month-over-month basis in July, marking the second straight month of declines.
  • Rio Tinto announced it had resumed negotiations with the union representing workers at the BC Works aluminum smelter.

You want more MetalMiner on your terms. Sign up for weekly email updates here.

This morning in metals news: Rio Tinto this week returning to the negotiating table with the union representing workers at the BC Works aluminum smelter; meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported multifactor productivity fell in 61 of the 84 manufacturing industries in 2019; and, lastly, miner BHP earlier this month reported its financial results for the year ending June 30, 2021.

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

Rio Tinto, union resume talks at BC Works

Rio Tinto sign

Argus/Adobe Stock

Rio Tinto and Unifor Local 231 have resumed negotiations at the firm’s BC Works aluminum smelter.

In late July, approximately 900 workers at the plant in Kitimat, British Columbia, went on strike, the CBC reported.

“After working until 2:30 am last night, we were expecting some big moves from the Company this morning,” the union said in a July 24 bulletin posted to its website. “Unfortunately, the Company came back to the table with absolutely nothing. Instead, they offered that we engage in joint mediation through the Labour Board.”

This week, Rio Tinto said the sides had returned to the bargaining table.

“Starting 24 August, we have returned to the bargaining table to resume negotiations,” Rio Tinto said in a statement this week. “Our conversations will tackle the outstanding issues. If successful, Rio Tinto and Unifor Local 2301 will develop a plan to return to work that will guide what needs to be done from the time an agreement is reached until we ramp up to full production with all pots back in operation.”

According to information on the company’s website, the plant produces 329 kt of aluminum annually. Aluminum from the plant goes primarily to customers in Japan, South Korea and the United States.

The smelter began operations in 1954.

Read more

1 2 3 4 5 203