Articles in Category: Company News

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This morning in metals news, senior executives at Kobe Steel were aware of the company’s data tampering, copper drops from its two-month and a subsidiary of ArcelorMittal is paying $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit regarding pollution from its western Pennsylvania coke plant.

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Kobe Admits Executives Knew Abut Data Cheating

Kobe Steel admitted for the first time that senior level executives were aware of the data falsification going on at the company, Reuters reported.

As a result, three executives were “reassigned,” according to the report — in other words, demoted.

According to the steelmaker, about 500 customers received products with falsified specifications.

Copper Falls Off Two-Month High

After approaching a two-month high in the previous session, copper dropped Thursday, Reuters reported.

LME copper closed at $6,924 per ton on Wednesday.

ArcelorMittal Subsidiary Pays $1.5M in Pollution Suit

A subsidiary of ArcelorMittal is paying $1.5 million to settle a suit that its western Pennsylvania coke plant “showered the area with soot and other pollutants almost daily,” the Associated Press reported.

PennEnvironment, the environmental advocacy group behind the suit, said it believes the penalty is the largest secured by a citizen lawsuit in Pennsylvania history under the federal Clean Air Act, according to the Associated Press report.

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This morning in metals news, U.S. raw steel production for the week ending Dec. 16 was up from the same week in 2016, Tata Steel is working on technology that cuts emissions and potential copper strikes in 2018 could significantly impact supply going forward.

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U.S. Raw Steel Production Rises 5.7%

For the week ending Dec. 16, raw steel production in the U.S. was up 5.7% compared with the same week in 2016, according to weekly data from the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI).

Production for the week was 1,698,000 net tons (NT), which was also up 1.6% from the week ending Dec. 9.

Tata Steel Eyes Emissions Cuts

According to a report in the Financial Times, Tata Steel’s work on technology that can curb emissions has reached its final stage at the firm’s Netherlands facility.

The method, dubbed HIsarna, being tested by Tata aims to potentially replace traditional blast furnaces for making liquid iron.

According to Tata, the process cuts out several steps in the traditional process, resulting in an approximately 20% reduction in emissions.

Copper Strikes on the Horizon?

For copper watchers, labor negotiations in Chile and elsewhere could result in further strikes and, consequently, a tightening of global supply.

Reuters’ Andy Home touched on the possibility of strikes affecting copper miners’ operations next year.

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In fact, three strikes have already taken place at South American operations in recent weeks, Home reported, including one last week at the Quebrada Blanca mine in Chile.

The labor strife has yet to have a significant impact on the copper price, Home reported, but with a significant number of contracts up for renewal in Chile, a failure to find common ground could lead to a rising copper price next year.

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This morning in metals news, the Japanese steel industry’s output is expected to grow next year, lenders have a new plan for Essar Steel, and China’s zinc and copper outputs in November were at their highest since late 2014.

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Japanese Steel Sector Set to Ramp Up Output

According to the Japan Iron and Steel Federation, the country can expect to see increased crude steel output in 2018 and 2019.

According to Reuters, Kosei Shindo, the chairman of the Japan Iron and Steel Federation, said “I hope that crude steel output (for next business year) would exceed 10.6 million tonnes.”

A New Plan for Essar Steel

In its insolvency proceedings, lenders to Essar Steel have reduced the time allowed to resolve the firm’s default, according to a report by the Economic Times.

The “single stage” process, according to the report, means any interested bidder has to meet both the conditions to be considered by the bankers, according to the report.

China Zinc, Copper Output Up

China’s output of copper and zinc in November was at its highest since December 2014, according to Reuters.

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According to the report, China’s refined copper output increased 9.8% to 786,000 tons, while zinc production rose 7.5% to 603,000 tons.

Before we head into the weekend, let’s take one last look back at the week that was:

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This morning in metals news, Chinese aluminum output fell to its lowest total since February 2015, Liberty House considers buying a large Rio Tinto smelter in France and copper approaches a two-week high.

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Chinese Aluminum Output Falls

Chinese primary aluminum production dropped for a fifth straight month, Reuters reported.

In fact, winter smelting restrictions saw output fall to its lowest in the country since February 2015, according to the report.

Liberty House Eyes Rio Tinto Smelter

According to Reuters, Liberty House is considering a bid for Rio Tinto’s aluminum smelter in northern France.

The Dunkirk plant is valued at around 200 million euros, according to Reuters sources familiar with the matter.

Copper Rises Near Two-Week High

A weakening dollar and positive Chinese manufacturing data saw copper rise on Thursday, Reuters reported.

The Chinese industrial sector grew faster in November than markets expected.

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London Metal Exchange copper traded at $6,760 a ton in official midday rings, according to the report.

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This morning in metals news, Toyota and Panasonic are considering working together on developing electric car batteries, U.S. Steel did not test for toxic materials after a chemical spill into Lake Michigan in October and U.S. raw steel production last week was up 4.3% compared with the same week in 2016.

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A Toyota, Panasonic Partnership?

According to Reuters, Toyota and Panasonic are considering joining forcing in developing electric batteries for vehicles.

Panasonic already manufactures batteries for Toyota’s gasoline-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, according to the report.

U.S. Steel Didn’t Test Water After October Chemical Spill

Documents posted online by state regulators Tuesday show that following a U.S. Steel chemical spill in a Lake Michigan tributary in October, the company did not test the waters for toxic materials, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The October spill was the second of the year for U.S. Steel, the first affecting the same waterway in April.

According to the Tribune report, an inspector from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management visited U.S. Steel last month, when plant managers told the inspector they decided not to test for hexavalent chromium in the water.

U.S. Raw Steel Production Up 4.3%

U.S. raw steel production for the week ending Dec. 9 jumped 4.3% compared with the same week last year, according to a report from the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI).

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Domestic raw steel production was 1,672,000 net tons, while it was 1,607,000 net tons in the week ending Dec. 9, 2016.

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ArcelorMittal’s proposed purchase of Italy’s troubled Ilva steel plant was hailed by nearly all parties as a successful solution to one of Italy’s thorniest and longest-running industrial and environmental problems.

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The Ilva steel plant has been dogged for years by under-investment, losses and, most seriously, repeated toxic emissions linked to high cancer and respiratory disease rates in the area.

ArcelorMittal had undertaken to clean up the plant and tackle open-air mineral waste deposits that, according to the Financial Times, spew such serious pollution into the air that the local Taranto authorities have to declare periodic “wind days” (on which schools near the plant are forced to close to avoid dust exposure).

ArcelorMittal’s €1.8 billion (U.S. $2.15 billion) purchase of the plant from the Italian owners would have saved Italy’s largest steel works from insolvency, securing some 20,000 jobs at the plant and supply chain but also, according to pledges made by the firm, would clean up the environmental problems.

Yet politicians in the Taranto and wider Puglia area have mounted a legal challenge to the takeover on the grounds that it does not tackle pollution from the plant quickly enough.

No one said doing business in Italy was easy — but many fear ArcelorMittal could walk from the deal if local politicians continue to obstruct the process.

The European competition authorities in Brussels have already raised objections to the deal on the grounds that ArcelorMittal would control more than half the European market in premium galvanized steel should the purchase go through without divestments in other areas.

Fortunately for the local community that desperately needs the deal to ensure employment while addressing the environmental catastrophic they find themselves in the European steel market is doing rather well at the moment and it remains in ArcelorMittal’s interests to secure the plant if the local communities interests can be shown to be taking precedence.

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For the time being though the combination of EU and local opposition means the fate of one of Europe’s largest steel plants remains in the balance.

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This morning in metals news, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill ending the state’s moratorium on gold and silver mining, Chile approaches a busy year for mine union negotiations, and Chinese steel futures drop.

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Going for the Gold in the Badger State

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill ending the state’s moratorium on gold and silver mining, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

The moratorium was imposed in 1998, when Walker was a member of the state Assembly.

Union Negotiations on the Horizon in Chile

Chile’s copper mining industry has a busy schedule next year, with 32 union contracts on the docket, Bloomberg reported.

Chile, a dominant force in the copper industry, will negotiate the contracts, which represent approximately 75% of the country’s copper output, according to the report.

China Steel Futures Drop

Chinese steel futures took a dip Tuesday as a result of concerns regarding demand in the country, the world’s top steel consumer, according to Reuters.

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According to the report, upward price movement driven by supply constriction is expected to be counterbalanced by a drop in demand as winter weather affects construction projects.

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This morning in metals news, Chinese steel got a boost on the heels of another round of output cuts, Goldman Sachs executives warns about the potential of a U.S. departure from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Thyssenkrupp looks to get union backing for its European merger deal with Tata Steel.

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Chinese Steel on the Rise

On the heels of output cuts, Chinese steel got a boost Monday, according to a Reuters report.

According to the report, the most-active rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE) jumped 1.6%, ultimately closing at 3,912 yuan ($591.26) a ton.

Goldman Warns About NAFTA Exit

Goldman Sachs warned clients that it wasn’t optimistic regarding a positive resolution to the renegotiation talks.
“While we expect the rising odds of tax reform to put less pressure on the trade agenda, we do not expect passage of tax reform will raise the odds of a successful Nafta renegotiation,” Goldman Sachs said in a note to clients, according to Bloomberg. “And so a withdrawal announcement looks more likely than not, even if tax reform is enacted soon.”

Thyssenkrupp Looks to Win Union Favor

As German firm Thyssenkrupp works to execute a merger deal of its European operations with Tata Steel’s, the company is looking to win over its workers’ favor.

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According to Reuters, Thyssenkrupp is offering workers commitments on jobs and investments to get union backing for the deal (which was agreed to in September by the two companies in September).

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This morning in metals news, ArcelorMittal and the state-run Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL) are reportedly close to a joint-venture deal, officials in a northwest Indian town are threatening to sue U.S. Steel after a recent Lake Michigan toxic chemical spill, and despite the start of the winter season, Chinese steel mill profits have gone up.

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ArcelorMittal, SAIL Close to Deal

ArcelorMittal and India’s state-run SAIL have been in talks regarding a potential joint venture; according to Bloomberg, the two are expected to ink a deal soon.

According to Bloomberg, the two have agreed to terms on the deal, which features a $60 billion automotive plant.

Portage Officials Threaten to Sue U.S. Steel

After a second incident of dumping toxic chromium into Lake Michigan, U.S. Steel is facing lawsuit threats from a northwest Indiana town, not long after the City of Chicago said it would file suit.

Officials from Portage, Indiana, recently threatened to sue the company after the second spill, which occurred in October.

According to the Northwest Indiana Times, the Portage City Council approved a resolution Tuesday night demanding the steelmaker report any environmental spill or discharge to the city as it would to the Environmental Protection Agency or Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

Chinese Mills’ Profits Up

Profits by Chinese mills continue to rise after a warm start to the winter season, Reuters reported.

Warmer weather has allowed steel operations to continue when they would ordinarily be shut down by the colder winter weather.

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According to the report, physical spot prices for steel rebar for immediate delivery rose to 5,210 yuan ($787.72) a ton on Tuesday — its highest since August 2008.