Articles in Category: Company News

Sweden’s SSAB has announced collaboration plans with two European auto groups on the potential supply of fossil-free steel for auto bodies and parts.

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SSAB to collaborate with European auto groups on potential fossil-free steel supply

Postmodern Studio/Adobe StockThe flats and specialty steelmaker said Sept. 2 that it has agreed to collaborate with French company Faurecia on fossil-free steel to equip its automotive seating structures from 2026.

Faurecia has its headquarters just west of French capital city Paris. Besides auto seats, the company designs and manufactures exhaust systems, as well as interior systems that include dashboards, center consoles, door panels and acoustic modules.

SSAB also jointly announced with Mercedes-Benz on Sept. 1 that it would supply fossil free steel for the German group’s auto bodies, the specialty steelmaker said.

The first fossil-free steel prototypes for the auto group are due to be ready by 2022. Mercedes-Benz plans to become carbon-neutral by 2039 along its entire value chain, the companies stated.

An SSAB official declined to indicate the prospective volumes of steel that the steelmaker could supply to Mercedes-Benz, citing confidentiality agreements.

The collaboration announcements follow SSAB’s Aug. 16 announcement that it has produced the first batch of fossil-free steel at its Oxelösund site. DRI used in the fossil-free steel came from a pilot plant at the company’s Luleå works in central Sweden.

The pilot plant uses HYBRIT technology, which replaces coking coal with hydrogen to reduce iron ore and thus cuts emissions, information from the group stated.

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

September 2021 Automotive MMI chart

 

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US auto sales

semiconductor and automobile

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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.”

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One of India’s foremost steel companies, Jindal Steel & Power Ltd., has announced plans to invest U.S. $2.4 billion to increase capacity over the next six years as recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic boosts steel demand.

“Domestic steel prices have recovered from the lows of the COVID-induced volatility and are increasing spurred by improving demand prospects,” the firm said in its August investor presentation.

Volatility is the name of the game. Do you have a steel buying strategy that can handle the ups and downs?

Jindal Steel to ramp up capacity

India

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The steelmaker will increase its total capacity to 15.9 million tons (MT) by March 2025 from 8.6 MT, it said in an investor presentation recently. According to the statement, the company plans to more than double pellet production capacity to 21 million tons by 2024.

On Monday, in a statement to the stock exchanges, the steel company announced that its board had approved fundraising measures that include issuing non-convertible, senior, unsecured, fixed rate or LIBOR notes worth U.S. $1 billion.

JSPL’s plan includes raising money as part of its long-term goal of becoming debt-free and increasing production capacity to 15.9 MT by FY 2024.

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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.

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Steel capacity utilization dips to 84.9%

steelmaking in an EAF

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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.

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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.

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Hurricane Ida hits Louisiana

hurricane image

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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Rio Tinto, union resume talks at BC Works

Rio Tinto sign

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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.

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This morning in metals news: Norsk Hydro announced it is extending its partnership with Equinor and Panasonic; meanwhile, North American Stainless earlier this month issued a flat product price announcement; and, lastly, aluminum prices remain elevated.

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Norsk Hydro extends battery partnership

Norsk Hydro

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Oslo-based aluminum maker Norsk Hydro yesterday announced it is extending its partnership with Panasonic and Equinor to create a joint European battery business.

“The strategic partnership will continue to develop the business case for a sustainable and cost-competitive European battery business,” Norsk Hydro said in a release.

“The joint battery initiative has refined possible Norwegian site locations for a potential European battery business to a handful. At the same time, the project will be looking at alternative locations in the European Union.”

NAS issues price announcement

Earlier this month, North American Stainless announced several price changes for its products.

The price changes included:

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This morning in metals news: Norsk Hydro plans to expand capacity at its Sjunnen aluminum extrusion plant; the Pilbara Ports Authority reported a decline in throughput in July; and, lastly, the United States International Trade Commission conducted a five-year sunset review on existing duty orders for carbon and alloy steel standard, line and pressure pipe from China.

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Hydro to boost capacity at Sjunnen

Norsk Hydro

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Oslo-based Norsk Hydro announced it plans to increase capacity at its extrusion plant in Sjunnen, Sweden.

The firm said it will finalize the expansion, which comes at a cost of €11.3 million, by the end of 2022.

“The decision to expand the aluminium casthouse operations in Sjunnen comes in response to an increased market demand for low-carbon aluminium profiles across all industries where Hydro Extrusions operates,” Hydro said.

“Furthermore, the location in the south of Sweden is ideal to capture available used aluminium metal from local industries which otherwise would have had to be transported long distances, increasing cost and carbon footprint of the final product.”

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So far, it has been largely Samsung cell phones or laptops batteries that have caught the media’s attention when devices have caught fire, particularly in contained locations like aircraft or offices.

But a spate of reports suggest the problem could also extend to cars, where the potential for serious consequences could be even greater — both financially and for life and limb.

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GM issues Chevy Bolt recall

lithium-ion battery

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News late last week that General Motors is to recall all 2017 to 2022 Chevy Bolt EVs for battery replacements, saying the LG-supplied batteries could have not one but two serious defects with the result they are at risk of causing fires. As a result, LG’s share price plunged by 10% overnight.

GM is to replace the battery modules after two separate incidents of batteries exploding, despite earlier assurances that it was only older Bolts with U.S.-made batteries that had the problem. The recall now also includes those fitted with batteries made in South Korea.

The implications are huge for both companies.

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