Articles in Category: Company News

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It’s the largest coal miner in the world, and accounts for at least 80% of India’s coal production.

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Now, faced with India’s onward march on the path of renewable energy, Coal India Ltd (CIL) finds itself stuttering. So much so that it has decided to shutter as many as 37 coal mines by March of next year.

India’s Coal Ministry, in a review meeting with CIL and its subsidiaries, took special note of the fact that a substantial number of mines had not been able to recover costs in the form of even salaries paid to the workers. It then directed CIL’s arms to conduct a detailed study of such mines and report on action taken.

CIL also explained away the decision, saying its subsidiaries undertake an annual exercise to determine profit- and loss-making mines for comparative study of performance. The decision has been met, predictably, with protests from local labor unions. If and when the mines are shuttered, it would help the company save about $124 million. The mines make up about 9% of the total number of mines operated by CIL.

CIL is not alone in facing the challenge represented by the growing renewable energy sector.

One estimate by the Energy and Resources Institute predicts if the cost of renewable energy and storage continue to fall, India may phase out coal power completely by 2050. Both solar and wind energy prices have been steadily decreasing over the last three years.

In 2016-17, India added over 14,000 megawatts of new renewable energy power compared to almost 7,000 megawatts of new coal power capacity.

But green energy is not the only new challenge coal mines face.

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This morning in metals news: copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) is hanging steady, zinc pulled back after hitting a two-week high and General Electric (GE) announced plans to build the world’s largest laser-based powder bed metal 3-D printer.

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No Movement for Copper

A stronger U.S. dollar put a cap on gains for LME copper, as the metal’s price didn’t show much movement Tuesday, Reuters reported.

The U.S. dollar hit a three-week high against the yen after a Federal Reserve official said inflation should rise alongside wages — “reinforcing expectations for the Fed to keep raising interest rates,” according to Reuters.

Zinc Falls After Two-Week Peak

Zinc prices have been steadily climbing of late, with the metal hitting a two-week high yesterday. That has pulled back a bit, partly as a result of questions about Chinese demand, Reuters reported.

“You’ve got some news with a bullish tone, so that’s supporting the market, but I don’t know how sustainable this will all be,” Gianclaudio Torlizzi, partner at the T-Commodity consultancy, told Reuters.

LME zinc fell by 0.4%, according to the report.

GE Makes 3-D Printer Announcement

Say hello to ATLAS.

That’s the name of the new metal 3-D printer GE announced it is building, a printer that will be the world’s largest laser-based power bed metal 3-D printer.

GE made the announcement at the Paris Air Show, according to 3D Printing Industry.

Free Download: The June 2017 MMI Report

Per 3D Printing Industry, the printer has a build volume of 1 meter cubed.

It is not unusual for the wrong thing to be done for the right reasons.

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Whether it is the rule of unexpected consequences or blind adherence to doctrine, there are countless historical examples of individuals, companies and governments that made decisions, claiming the moral high ground, which have resulted in damage or impoverishment to those the decision was intended to assist.

The mining sector and even some unions have reacted angrily to South Africa Minister of Mining Mosebenzi Zwane’s announcement last week at a presentation in Pretoria of a new mining charter intended to further extend South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) rules.

The charter sets out a number of significant changes to the rules governing ownership of South Africa’s vast mining industry.

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This morning in metals news, base metals got off to a solid start this week, Carpenter Technology Corporation enters into a supply agreement with a company that produces 3-D printing systems and zinc hits a two-week high.

Markets Start Monday with Strong Base

It was a good start to the week for base metals on the London Metal Exchange (LME).

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Prices closed Friday with an average increase of 0.4%, according to FastMarkets. Those metals kept the momentum rolling into this week (particularly lead, zinc and nickel).

LME prices increased by an average of 0.5%, with three-month copper prices up 0.3% and lead prices up 1%, according to FastMarkets.

Carpenter, Desktop Metal Enter Supply Relationship

Desktop Metal, Inc., which produces end-to-end metal 3-D printing systems, has entered into a supply relationship with Carpenter Technology Corporation, according to a NASDAQ release.

Carpenter Technology Corporation is a producer and distributor of premium specialty alloys, including titanium alloys, nickel and cobalt based superalloys, stainless steels, alloy steels and tool steels. Carpenter’s powder metals will be utilized in Desktop’s premium materials cartridges, according to the release.

The move is just another signal of the ongoing growth of the 3D-printing market and the method’s uses in a variety of applications.

Zinc Hits Two-Week High

Rather than start the week Monday sluggishly, zinc prices have ticked upward, reaching a two-week high, according to Reuters.

The rising price was driven by expectation of higher demand from steelmakers and LME inventories of zinc hitting nine-year lows, according to the Reuters report.

Free Download: The June 2017 MMI Report

London zinc prices rose 0.9%, to their highest price since June 2.

Meanwhile, mine closures led to China’s lowest output in more than two years. Chinese imports increased by by 21 percent in April, Reuters reported.

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This morning in metals news, a French bank has sued a metals broker for $32 million over alleged fraudulent receipts; aluminum, copper and lead take a fall in India; and copper hit a five-week high on the London Metal Exchange (LME) as a result of constrained supply from Chile and strong demand in China.

Alleged Fraudulent Receipts at Heart of French Lawsuit

French bank Natixis has filed a lawsuit against metals broker Marex Spectron over alleged fraudulent receipts, Reuters reports.

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According to a court filing, the $32 million lawsuit is over fraudulent receipts for nickel stored at warehouses in Asia run by a unit of commodities giant Glencore, Reuters reported.

Marex Spectron contested the claim in a statement. Natixis seeks damages because it alleges it provided finance based on fake receipts in a deal arranged by Marex Spectron.

Base Metals Take a Tumble in India

A trio of metals took a fall as a result of “muted demand,” according to the Economic Times.

Aluminum, copper and lead fell in India as a result of speculators offloading positions, according to analysts in the Economic Times report.

Copper Prices Move Up on LME

While copper was down in India, prices were up elsewhere, according to Reuters.

According to the report, copper hit a five-week high on the LME, “helped by concerns over supply from Chile, recent data pointing to robust import demand in China and falling stocks of the metal.”

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) hit its highest price since early May.

Free Download: The May 2017 MMI Report

U.S. domestic prices of grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES) fell this past month, continuing the roller coaster ride of price increases and decreases in the GOES M3 index since the start of this year.

GOES prices do not tend to follow general steel price trends, nor does simple fundamental (supply and demand) analysis help explain price trends.

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Globally, for example, GOES prices are on the rise, on the back of several developments.

Demand for electric cars

An increased demand for electric cars that use high-quality non-oriented electrical steel (NOES), is one such development. MetalMiner has reviewed market growth data supplied by an automotive manufacturer indicating that demand for electric vehicles is anticipated to take about 8% market share away from internal combustion engine (ICE) automobiles by 2020, with battery electric vehicles (BEV) taking up the largest share of electric vehicle (EV) growth.

NOES is required to get the power from the battery to the motor. How does this impact GOES prices? High-quality NOES often needs to run on GOES product lines, thereby limiting GOES capacity.

In theory, this should cause prices to rise.

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An article this week in Bloomberg catches the eye with a title announcing “hard-to-believe” steel shortages in China.

After years of excess supply, over-capacity and atrocious levels of resulting pollution, it would be a bit much to hear the country was short of steel — but that is what Fortescue’s CEO Nev Power is quoted as saying in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Beijing on Monday.

The gist of his claims? Closures of induction furnaces are creating a shortage of rebar, not because market demand is strong but because supply has become constrained, Power explained.

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Actually, the story is not a new one.

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The Automotive MMI, our sub-index of industrial metals and materials used by the automotive sector, dropped by one point for a June reading of 86. The Automotive MMI has not seen an increase since early this year, when the figure accelerated from a January reading of 82 to 92 in February.

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Overall, consumers seemed to pass on auto purchases in May, continuing the slowdown from January-April. Car and light truck sales — checking in at a total of 1.52 million in May — were down for the third month in a row. Automakers reported a 1% drop in sales from the previous year, according to a Reuters report.

While Ford Motor Company’s sales are down by 3.5% in the calendar year to date compared with the same point in 2016, it had a good May, edging out GM and others, according to data from Autodata Corp.

Ford sold 240,250 vehicles in May, a 2.3% increase from its May 2016 total sales.

GM, meanwhile, sold 237,156 vehicles in May 2017, a 1.4% drop from May 2016.

As for Chinese auto sales, those are down, too, despite a strong first quarter. Reuters reported a 2.2% drop in April sales after a 5% rise in March. The decline was the largest in China since August 2015, according to the report.

So how does that related to the metals side of the story?

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Two significant developments on the steel front took place last week that will ensure that India continued on its chalked-out path of global dominance in steel production.

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Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) launched its 6 million ton per annum (MTPA) integrated steel plant at Angul in the Odisha province. The plant, one of the biggest in India, was dedicated to the nation on May 27, 2017. Naveen Patnaik, the chief minister of Odisha, said the plant would lead to an addition of 20% of steel to India’s ultimate goal of steel manufacturing capacity of 300 MTPA by 2030.

For JSPL, this was a major milestone, too. According to Chairman Naveen Jindal, the 6 MTPA steel plant at Angul was a major landmark in defining the future growth trajectory of JSPL. The latter is part of US $18 billion diversified O.P. Jindal Group.

Spread over 3,500 acres, JSPL’s integrated steel plant at Angul will provide direct employment opportunities to over 30,000 people and indirect employment to over 100,000 individuals.

JSPL’s capacity addition would further enhance the cost efficiencies of steelmaking — a continuous focus area of JSPL’s business philosophy, adding to its overall plan of debt reduction, said some of its top honchos.

In another development on the steel front, ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel producer, said it has agreed to make concessions to Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) to jumpstart a delayed US $897 million automotive joint venture.

ArcelorMittal and SAIL, according to a report by news agency Reuters, had agreed to a proposal to export a fifth of the auto-grade steel they aimed to make as part of the joint venture.

Incidentally, the proposal was one of several made by Indian government think tank NITI Aayog, which is mediating talks on commercial terms for the delayed venture.

At present, a bulk of the high-grade steel used by India’s vehicle industry was imported from countries such as Japan. With this new joint venture all set to take off, reliance on such imported steel would fall drastically, experts say.

The Reuters report quoted a company spokesperson as saying that in the interest of the strategic partnership, some concession from ArcelorMittal on technology had been extended.

Experts believe if the deal does come to fruition, it would help SAIL compete with local rivals, such as JSW Steel and Tata Steel, which have foreign partnerships to make steel for the car industry.

Welcoming Fouad Egbaria as MetalMiner’s next editor.

With MetalMiner Founder (and Founding Editor) Lisa Reisman taking a chance on bringing in who she thought was a “Tara” to interview for a position back in October 2010, she laid the groundwork for running a Medill shop, as they say.

As a grad student at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism — or whatever newfangled, marketing-driven title they’re now featuring — I had often heard of leading media organizations running Medill shops, in which a number of Medill alums make up the ranks of the respective companies’ employment force. Often, the orgs spoken of were sexy media giants, the Bloombergs of the world, unlike the group of scrappy niche industry blogs with something very unique to offer that I was about to join.

We’ve ultimately brought on four more Medillians (as they’re called, for better or worse) into our fold over the time I’ve been with the company. Sydney Lazarus and Nick Heinzmann, the formidably talented editors of our sister site Spend Matters, both spent time on the grassy knolls of Northwestern’s Evanston campus studying journalism.

But MetalMiner’s editorial team in my time has only ever consisted of Medill grads. After me, the inimitable Jeff Yoders became MetalMiner’s daily editor, whose exploits you can get a better sense of in this post. But if you stick around our search bar long enough (we don’t have infinite scroll — yet), you’ll find MetalMiner’s archives literally overflowing with Jeff’s stalwart contributions to the publication over the several years he spent with us.

Now, with all this before him to live up to, Fouad Egbaria takes over as editor of MetalMiner this week. Though his headshot above may be small, his achievements are not; and his vision (although nascent) of what he plans for MetalMiner, and thoughts on where journalism is going, peek through in our recent chat with him.

Cue the Wikipedia Entry-Style Highlights

Fouad comes to MetalMiner from 22nd Century Media, where he covered virtually everything — from municipal meetings to crime to theater — for a group of weekly hyperlocal newspapers based in the north suburbs of Chicago. He nabbed a National Newspaper Association honorable mention award for Best Sports Story last year.

He grew up in Gurnee, Ill., spending “many summer days at Six Flags or Gurnee Mills”…as one does up there. He established a firm bond with University of Michigan athletics (a man after my own heart), especially football, when he was a youngster living in Ann Arbor while his father taught at the school. Fouad was actually born in Israel, but moved to the U.S. with his parents when he was two months old. He went to high school in Alabama, then back to study with The Leaders and Best for a degree in English, and then on to Northwestern’s Medill. (Even though Fouad is a U-M grad, he has not yet flaunted it — no #Hail hashtags in his social feeds or anything annoying like that, thank goodness.) From what I’ve gotten to know of him so far, he is a sharp, calm, even-keeled presence who will be a fitting addition to our newsroom.

Here are a few other nuggets from our email conversation.

What would you consider your best (perhaps most unconventional) skill?

I’m not sure if it’s my best or most unconventional skill, but I have the ability (curse?) to notice typos/mistakes in just about anything, including that sign in some grocery store express checkout lines (it’s “15 items or fewer”) or on restaurant menus.

When you’re not working, what would you most rather be doing?

I love to read (fiction, non-fiction, print newspapers, news apps on my phone, magazines), I run, I write about Michigan sports and work on fiction writing ideas (whenever I have time). When the weather’s nice, I like to go fishing, hiking and kayaking. Just so I’m not sounding disingenuous with respect to how active my lifestyle actually is, I also binge-watch TV shows, most recently the newest season of “Master of None.”

Which professional sport do you track/cover most closely, and why?

College football (I know it’s not a professional sport, but given the amount of money it generates, it might as well be). I contributed to the Michigan website on for several years, and have my own Michigan sports blog (which unfortunately hasn’t been updated since the end of the NCAA Tournament).

Where do you see journalism going in the next decade?

As long as advertising continues to decline and many readers refuse to pay for journalism, newsroom cuts will continue and already fairly skeletal news operations will become unaffordable and fold. Unfortunately, our national discourse is plagued by a lack of nuance, particularly when discussing “the media,” a term thrown around as if the media is a monolithic entity (it isn’t). Are there journalists — writers, editors and so on — who do bad work (with malicious intent or not) or make mistakes? Sure. But there are also so many talented journalists doing great, inventive work all the time across a wide variety of platforms, from the humble beat reporters all the way up to the high-profile names in news. With the digital tools now available, journalism has never been as fast, engaging and powerful as it is today, and I think that will only increase in the next decade.

Media mergers will continue, big media conglomerates will continue to eat up individual papers and more print publications will likely go under — none of these things are good, in my opinion. But as long as there is news — and there will always be news — there is a valuable place in society for journalism.

What are you most interested in learning while helming the digital pages of MetalMiner?

I’m excited to learn more about metal markets and how geopolitics, the ebb and flow of supply and demand, and the people and companies who make transactions in these markets all intersect. There’s a lot happening all over the world, politically and economically, so there’s almost always something new in these markets, sometimes by the hour or even by the minute.


I know what some of you may be thinking: is running a Medill shop — whether consciously or, in our case, not— too incestuous? We tend to think not, trusting that the quality of the work will bear out the collective decision to run one. But if the President of the United States gets to have his daughter and son-in-law working closely with him in the White House, well, why not?

Go ‘Cats, and welcome, Fouad!