Articles in Category: Company News

The Renewables Monthly Metals Index (MMI) fell 1.0% this month. (Editor’s Note: This report also includes coverage of grain-oriented electrical steel.) 

First Cobalt, Glencore to open North American cobalt supply plant

Canadian firm First Cobalt and miner Glencore plan to bring a new cobalt plant to North America, one that will supply the electric vehicle sector, the Financial Times reported.

First Cobalt reported a positive feasibility study May 4.

“First Cobalt Corp. today announced positive results from an independent feasibility study conducted on its permitted cobalt refinery in Ontario, Canada,” the firm said. “The study contemplates expanding the existing facility and adapting it to be North America’s first producer of cobalt sulfate, an essential component in the manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles.

“The feasibility study demonstrates that the First Cobalt Refinery project can become a viable, globally competitive player in the North American and European electric vehicle (EV) supply chain. The study reinforces the strength of First Cobalt’s business strategy for a rapidly evolving EV market that is heavily dependent on supply from China.”

The facility would mark the first North American cobalt supply location.

According to the study, the site would boast annual production of 25,000 tons of battery grade cobalt sulfate, which would account for 5% of the global refined cobalt market.

The project comes with an initial capital estimate of $56 million, First Cobalt said, and an operating cost estimate of $2.72/pound.

First Cobalt said discussions are underway with Glencore regarding “commercial arrangements, financing and allocation of project economics,” while “third party and government funding opportunities” are also “under review.”

Tesla, Alameda County reach deal

Electric vehicle maker Tesla and Alameda County — home to Tesla’s lone North American production facility — have reached a deal to resolve a row over the state’s COVID-19 shelter-in-place measures and CEO Elon Musk’s defiance of those measures this week.

Earlier this week, Musk dared authorities to arrest him as production at Tesla’s Fremont assembly plant restarted in defiance of shutdown orders in effect since March 23.

According to the Mercury News, Tesla and the county reached a deal to allow for the automaker to restart operations lawfully.

“We reviewed the plan and held productive discussions today with Tesla’s representatives about their safety and prevention plans, including some additional safety recommendations,” the county said in a statement, as quoted by the Mercury News. “If Tesla’s Prevention and Control Plan includes these updates, and the public health indicators remain stable or improve, we have agreed that Tesla can begin to augment their Minimum Business Operations this week in preparation for possible reopening as soon as next week.”

GOES

The GOES MMI, which covers grain-oriented electrical steel, fell 5.9% this month.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a new Section 232 investigation covering imports of laminations and wound cores for incorporation into transformers, electrical transformers and transformer regulators.

“The Department of Commerce will conduct a thorough, fair, and transparent review to determine the effects on the national security from imports of laminations for stacked cores for incorporation into transformers, stacked and wound cores for incorporation into transformers, electrical transformers, and transformer regulators,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said.

Previously, the Trump administration used Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

The U.S. GOES price fell 5.8% month over month to $2,418/mt.

Actual metals prices and trends

Japanese steel plate fell 0.2% month over month to $820.17/mt. Korean steel plate fell 3.7% to $494.28/mt. Chinese steel plate fell 0.6% to $569.78/mt.

U.S. steel plate dropped 7.4% to $637/st.

Cobalt cathodes rose 0.4% to $94,254.98/mt.

Andrey Kuzmin/Adobe Stack

This morning in metals news, the E.U. could slap new duties on steel imported from Turkey, Australian energy exports to China have surged and union representatives questioned Alcoa’s efforts to keep its Ferndale, Washington smelter running.

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Björn Wylezich/Adobe Stock

This morning in metals news, Ford plans to restart its operations in the U.K. on Monday, Glencore comments on the COVID-19 crisis’ impact on copper and a Chilean industry group forecast a copper surplus of 200,000 tons this year.

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The Copper Monthly Metals Index (MMI) moved up 4.8% this month.

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Bombardho/Adobe Stock

This morning in metals news, copper prices have made gains, some General Motors parts plants will resume production this week and the Pilbara Ports Authority reported port data for April.

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Steelmaker ArcelorMittal late last week released its Q1 2020 financial results, reporting a net loss of $1.1 billion amid challenges stemming from the COVID-19 crisis.

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misunseo/Adobe Stock

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 coverage of: automotive sales, U.S. construction spending, aluminum prices on the SHFE and LME, and gold’s growing premium over silver.

Looking for metal price forecasting and data analysis in one easy-to-use platform? Inquire about MetalMiner Insights today!

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The Global Precious Monthly Metals Index (MMI) dropped 1.7% this month.

Gold prices steady around $1,700/ounce

With some states beginning to reopen and ease restrictions put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, interest in gold as a safe-haven asset has picked up.

After falling below $1,500 per ounce in March, the gold price eventually surged ahead of the $1,700 per ounce threshold, around which it has settled since mid-April.

Looking for metal price forecasting and data analysis in one easy-to-use platform? Inquire about MetalMiner Insights today!

As Kitco News reported, the gold price did not react in any significant way to the recent stretch of historic unemployment claims in the U.S. — nonfarm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April alone, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported — because the news was largely expected.

It remains to be seen how various states’ plans to “reopen” their economies will progress given the still-elevated number of cases and deaths in some regions of the country.

This week, however, Bloomberg reported the VIX, or volatility index, fell to a nine-week low. The VIX dropped below 30 for the first time since March 3, Bloomberg reported.

Meanwhile, CBOE’s Gold ETF Volatility Index (GVZ) was down Friday, falling to 25.62 as of Friday afternoon after opening today at 26.76. The GVZ reached as high as 54.37 this year (March 18).

Silver linings

Elsewhere in the precious metals basket, MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns delved into the recent surge in the gap between gold and silver prices.

In short? Investor interest in silver ETFs has gotten a boost.

“The Financial Times reports on the dramatic rise in silver ETF holdings as investors bet on a rally in silver after the gap between gold and the industrial metal soared to its widest level in more than three centuries,” Burns wrote.

“The article states that in March the price of an ounce of gold was 125 times higher than the same amount of silver — a record going back to at least 1687.

“Since then, the gap has closed to about 113 times, as silver rose to $15 per ounce; Bank of America is reported as predicting silver could top $20 over the next year.”

Top gold miners post strong Q1

Miner Newmont Corporation reported first-quarter gold production of 1.48 million ounces, up 20% from Q1 2019, “primarily due to new production from the Goldcorp assets, partially offset by the sale of Kalgoorlie in Australia and lower ore grade milled at Ahafo, Yanacocha and Merian.”

Newmont benefited from rising gold prices (gold is up approximately 12% since the start of this year).

“Average realized price for gold was $1,591, an increase of $291 per ounce over the prior year quarter; average realized price for copper was $1.56, a decrease of $1.33 per pound over the prior year quarter; average realized price for silver, lead and zinc were $14.13 per ounce, $0.64 per pound and $0.62 per pound, respectively,” Newmont said in its Q1 earnings report.

Meanwhile, Barrick Gold Corporation posted Q1 net earnings of $400 million, up from $111 million in Q1 2019.

In operational news, Barrick is currently in a dispute with the government of Papua New Guinea over its decision not to extend the lease for the Porgera gold mine. The open pit, underground gold mine is a joint venture operated by Barrick (47.5% stake), Zijin Mining Group (47.5%) and Mineral Resources Enga (5%).

“Since the end of the quarter, the government of Papua New Guinea has announced that it will not renew Barrick Niugini Limited’s 20-year Special Mining Lease for the Porgera gold mine,” Barrick said in its earnings report. “Barrick has said it will contest the move, which it regards as tantamount to nationalization without due process. In the meantime, BNL has placed Porgera on temporary care and maintenance. In addition, due to the uncertainty related to the timing and scope of future developments on the mine’s operating outlook, we are withdrawing our full year 2020 guidance for Porgera at this time.”

Reuters: BAML forecasts platinum, palladium deficits

Reuters reported Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts forecast a global deficit in platinum and palladium this year as a result of mine closures in top platinum producer South Africa.

Last month, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the extension through the end of April of lockdown measures aimed at curbing the coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier this month, however, the government began to ease restrictions, allowing for some stores to reopen (mines had already been permitted to operate at 50% as of late last month).

“Yet, while a nation-wide lockdown is probably the most effective means to contain the spread of the coronavirus, it cannot be sustained indefinitely,” Ramaphosa said April 25.

“Our people need to eat. They need to earn a living. Companies need to be able to produce and to trade, they need to generate revenue and keep their employees in employment.

“We have accordingly decided that beyond Thursday 30 April, we should begin a gradual and phased recovery of economic activity.”

Anglo American Platinum reported a 7% decline in PGM production in Q1, down to 954,800 ounces, citing South Africa’s COVID-19 mitigation measures.

Meanwhile, Impala Platinum reported a 6% drop in production for the first quarter of calendar year 2020.

“The implementation of the lockdown is estimated to have resulted in a 6% reduction in reported milled tonnage from each of Impala, Marula and Two Rivers, equivalent to approximately 26,000 ounces of 6E mine-to-market concentrate production during the quarter,” Impala said in its quarterly report.

Looking for metal price forecasting and data analysis in one easy-to-use platform? Inquire about MetalMiner Insights today!

Actual metals prices and trends

The U.S. silver ingot/bars price rose 9.7% month over month to $15.27/ounce as of May 1.

The U.S. platinum bar price rose 7.6% to $778/ounce, while palladium fell 17.9% to $1,870/ounce.

Chinese gold bullion rose 6.3% to $53.63/gram, while U.S. gold bullion surged 8.7% to $1,714.10/ounce.

Steven Husk/Adobe Stock

This morning in metals news, General Motors aims to begin a phased restart of production at its North American facilities May 18, Ford said its parts distribution centers will resume full operations May 11 and Fiat Chrysler reported a first-quarter net loss of €1.7 billion.

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zerophoto/Adobe Stock

This morning in metals news, Novelis Inc. reported fiscal year 2020 net income fell 3%, ArcelorMittal has opted to suspend dividend payments and Barrick Gold has benefited from the gold price’s rise this year.

Looking for metal price forecasting and data analysis in one easy-to-use platform? Inquire about MetalMiner Insights today!

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