Articles in Category: Company News

The Vedanta copper plant in India remains shut three years after local residents protested against pollution stemming from the plant’s operation.

That, however, has not fazed the Vedanta Group.

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Vedanta to set up new copper smelter

Vedanta now plans to set up yet another plant in the country. The proposed copper smelter plant will have a capacity of 500,000 tons per year.

copper smelter

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Vedanta Ltd, the subsidiary of Vedanta Resources, has called for expressions of interest from provincial governments in India regarding a new copper smelter unit.

A Vedanta spokesperson told the Business Standard India’s copper requirements will grow. Furthermore, the spokesperson emphasized ample supply of copper is critical for implementation of new-generation technologies.

Three years later

It’s been about three years since Vedanta’s Tamil Nadu smelter was shut down, causing it losses that are already running into millions of dollars.

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This morning in metals news: the US Court of International Trade issued a Section 232-related ruling; General Motors announced the manufacturing locations of its first-ever Chevrolet Silverado electric pickup and GMC Hummer EV SUV; and, lastly, top copper producer Chile closed borders.

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USCIT rules in favor of plaintiff in Section 232 derivatives case

judge's gavel

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The US Court of International Trade (USCIT) has typically rejected challenges to former President Donald Trump’s Section 232 tariffs.

This week, however, the court ruled in favor of a plaintiff who contested Trump’s expansion of the tariffs to cover steel and aluminum derivatives.

With Proclamation 9980 on Jan. 24, 2020, Trump expanded the Section 232 duties to cover steel and aluminum derivatives.

In this case, PrimeSource Building Products Inc. contested the duties.

“To declare Proclamation 9980 invalid, we must find ‘a clear misconstruction of the governing statute, a significant procedural violation, or action outside delegated authority,'” the USCIT explained. “Because the President issued Proclamation 9980 after the congressionally-delegated authority to adjust imports of the  products addressed in that proclamation had expired, Proclamation 9980 was action outside of delegated authority.”

The USCIT awarded summary judgment to PrimeSource on the second count of its complaint.

“As relief on this claim, we will declare Proclamation 9980 invalid as contrary to law and, on that basis, direct that the entries affected by this litigation be liquidated without the assessment of duties pursuant to Proclamation 9980, with refund of any deposits for such duty liability that may have been collected pursuant to Proclamation 9980,” the court stated in its conclusion.

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This morning in metals news: the US steel capacity utilization rate ticked up to 77.9% last week; Novelis announced new sustainability targets; and the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) issued a ruling on seamless carbon and alloy steel standard, line and pressure pipe.

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US steel capacity utilization hits 77.9%

US steel capacity utilization rose to 77.9% for the week ending April 3, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported. Steel capacity utilization for the previous week reached 77.6%.

steel arrow up

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Production during the week totaled 1.77 million net tons. The output marked an increase of 15.7% year over year. Furthermore, production increased by 0.3% from the previous week.

Novelis announces new sustainability targets

Aluminum sheet manufacturer Novelis announced new sustainability targets and a pledge to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Furthermore, Novelis said it aims to reduce its carbon emissions by 30% by 2026.

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The Automotive Monthly Metals Index (MMI) rose by 2.5% for this month’s reading, as Q1 2021 auto sales surged.

April 2021 Automotive MMI chart

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US automotive sales

The first quarter is in the rear-view mirror.

General Motors reported Q1 retail sales jumped by 19%, as the automaker tallied 642,250 vehicle deliveries.

“Over the last year, our dealers, supply chain and manufacturing teams have gone above and beyond to satisfy customers as demand for GM products rose sharply,” said Steve Carlisle, GM executive vice president and president for North America. “The great teamwork continues. Sales are off to a strong start in 2021, we are operating our truck and full-size SUV plants at full capacity and we plan to recover lost car and crossover production in the second half of the year where possible.”

Meanwhile, Ford Motor Co. reported Q1 retail sales surged by 23.1% year over year. Total sales rose by 1%. Retail truck and SUV sales rose by 27.6% and 34.4%, respectively.

Ford also touted an uptick in electric vehicle sales, which jumped by 74.1% to 24,590 vehicles sold.

FCA US reported US sales jumped by 25%.

“In spite of what started out as a strong start last year, before COVID shocked us all, this quarter was a very strong rebound for retail sales year over year,” U.S. Head of Sales Jeff Kommor said. “The consumer demand for our brands and our products was extremely strong throughout the quarter.”

Similarly, Nissan reported its Q1 2021 auto sales surged by 10.8% year over year.

Meanwhile, March 2021 auto sales for Honda surged by 16.2% year over year. Honda saw its light truck sales jump by 132% in the month.

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E.U. flag

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The European steel industry faces three major challenges, following the impacts of the COVID-19 global and the 2008-09 financial crisis, management consultancy McKinsey & Company stated.

“European steel producers should consider making a series of short-term operational and medium- to long- term strategic moves to ensure economic and environmental sustainability going forward,”
McKinsey said in its March 15 report, “The future of the European steel industry.”

“These strategic moves could encompass restructuring steps aimed at capacity reduction, steps toward strengthening the position of steel companies by diversifying their capabilities and sustainability moves toward low- and no-carbon steel,” McKinsey added.

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European steel needs to address overcapacity

The first move the sector needs to address is the increase in structural overcapacity. That is particularly true after a demand loss of between 5 million and 10 million metric tons demand loss as a result of the pandemic, the group stated.

“European steel players need to adjust overcapacity to be in sync with next normal steel demand,” McKinsey said.

Adjusting for a greener future

Steelmakers also need a short-term response to compensate for higher costs with profitability improvements and incremental measures that will reduce CO2 emissions. For example, they can do so by increasing the scrap rate, the report added.

Meanwhile, producers need to make investments with a view to medium- and long-term decarbonizing of the steel industry. In short, they should tailor long-term plans and technology choices towards CO2 neutrality, McKinsey noted.

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Suez Canal

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Before we head into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the week that was and some of the metals storylines here on MetalMiner, including the Suez Canal blockage, the April 2021 MMO, Western European hot rolled coil prices and much more:

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Week of March 29-April 2 (Suez Canal retrospective, HRC in Western Europe, April MMO report and more)

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carbon dioxide clock

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This morning in metals news: miner Rio Tinto joined an effort in Japan promoting decarbonization transparency; the Nikkei Review reported automaker Nissan plans to use cobalt-free electric vehicle batteries by mid-decade; and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson weighed in on the Liberty Steel crisis.

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Rio Tinto joins Green Value Chain Platform Network

Miner Rio Tinto has joined Japan’s Green Value Chain Platform Network, it announced Thursday. The network aims to “lead transparent decarbonization efforts” in the country.

Japan established the network in 2018, Rio Tinto noted.

“We are honoured to be welcomed into the Ministry of Environment’s GVC Network and look forward to engaging on innovative approaches with customers, government and industry to help reduce Japan’s carbon footprint,” Rio Tinto Japan President Bill Horie said.

Rio Tinto said it aims to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Nissan to use cobalt-free batteries

In other sustainability news, automaker Nissan said it plans to use cobalt-free electric vehicles batteries by the mid-2020s, the Nikkei Asia reported.

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American jobs

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This morning in metals news: President Joe Biden unveiled details of the $2 trillion investment toward the American Jobs Plan; meanwhile, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive recently released their automotive sales forecast for March; and, lastly, Ford yesterday announced its first-ever integrated sustainability and financial report.

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Biden reveals details of American Jobs Plan

This week, President Joe Biden unveiled details of his American Jobs Plan, which will include an investment of $2 trillion.

Furthermore, the plan seeks to revitalize the manufacturing sector, improve US infrastructure, and modernize water delivery systems and electrical grids, among other goals.

“The American Jobs Plan is an investment in America that will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure, and position the United States to out-compete China,” the White House said. “Public domestic investment as a share of the economy has fallen by more than 40 percent since the 1960s. The American Jobs Plan will invest in America in a way we have not invested since we built the interstate highways and won the Space Race.”

We have covered the various supply chain and shipping issues that have hampered operations over the last year. Part of the Biden plan calls for improvement of US ports, waterways and airports, including $25 billion for airports.

J.D. Power, LMC Automotive release March sales forecast

Automotive intelligence firms J.D. Power and LMC Automotive recently forecast US automotive retail sales in March would finish up 70.7% compared with March 2020. Furthermore, sales would be up 9.2% compared with March 2019.

In addition, the firms forecast new-vehicle retail sales in Q1 2021 would reach 3.16 million units. That figure would mark an increase of 20.5% from Q1 2020 and 4.7% from Q1 2019.

Ford releases first integrated financial, sustainability report

As electrification continues, many automakers are touting steps taken along the way.

This week, Ford Motor Co. announced the release of its first-ever integrated financial and sustainability report.

Furthermore, the automaker also announced new “science-based targets” toward its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

“The targets – to reduce Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions from operations 76% from 2017, and Scope 3 GHGs from use of the company’s products 50% from 2019, both by 2035 – were recently approved by the Science Based Targets initiative,” Ford said in a release.

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strike

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The United Steelworkers union Monday announced a strike at nine Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI) facilities, citing what it calls “unfair labor practices.”

The ATI strike, which began at 7 a.m. EDT Monday, marked the first at ATI since 1994, according to media reports.

In addition, USW spokesperson Tony Montana told MetalMiner the strike involves workers at plants in:
  • Pennsylvania in Brackenridge, Latrobe, Natrona Heights, Vandergrift and Washington
  • Lockport, New York
  • Louisville, Ohio
  • New Bedford, Massachusetts
  • Waterbury, Connecticut

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USW announces ATI strike

“We are willing to meet with management all day, every day, but ATI needs to engage with us to resolve the outstanding issues,” USW International Vice President David McCall said in a prepared statement. “We will continue to bargain in good faith, and we strongly urge ATI to do start doing the same.

“Through generations of hard work and dedication, Steelworkers at ATI have earned and deserve the security of a union contract. We cannot allow the company to use the global pandemic as an excuse to reverse decades of collective bargaining progress.”

USW said negotiations with ATI began in January 2021. The union claimed the company “sought major economic and contract language concessions” from its roughly 1,300 union members. Furthermore, the union said members have not had a wage increase since 2014.

Meanwhile, the union had announced its intention to strike Friday, March 26.

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steel tubes

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This morning in metals news: Nucor Corporation announced plans to build a new tube mill in Kentucky; meanwhile, US retail gasoline prices have been on the rise; and, lastly, unemployment rates in February fell in 23 states.

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Nucor to build new tube mill

Nucor recently announced plans to build a new tube mill in Kentucky near its Gallatin sheet mill.

The steelmaker said it will invest $164 million into the project, which will be operational in 2023.

“The new tube mill will have the capacity to produce approximately 250,000 tons of hollow structural section (HSS) steel tubing, mechanical steel tubing and galvanized solar torque tube,” Nucor said. “The Kentucky location puts the new tube mill near expanding solar markets in the U.S. and the largest consuming regions for HSS steel tubing.”

Retail gas prices on the rise

To the chagrin of motorists heading to the pump, retail gas prices have continued to rise.

US retail gasoline prices averaged $2.85 per gallon as of Monday, the Energy Information Administration reported.

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