Articles in Category: Company News

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This morning in metals news: U.S. Steel announced it will offer a new sustainable steel product line called verdeX™; meanwhile, Intel will invest $20 billion toward two new factories to serve the “incredible global demand for semiconductor manufacturing”; and, lastly, Century Aluminum announced a power contract in South Carolina for its Mt. Holly aluminum smelter.

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U.S. Steel unveils new sustainable steel

No matter the sector, sustainability is a concept that continues to gain traction — and not just from environmentally conscious individual consumers.

This week, during Ceres Conference 2021, U.S. Steel unveiled a new line of sustainable steel dubbed verdeX™.

“U. S. Steel is now capable of producing some of the most advanced high strength steels with only a quarter of the carbon dioxide emissions previously required,” the steelmaker said in a release. “The company is now partnering with customers to introduce U. S. Steel’s verdeX line of sustainable steel, so they can offer even more sustainable products to consumers.”

The steelmaker said it will release additional information about the sustainable steel line in the coming weeks.

Intel to invest in semiconductor manufacturing

The semiconductor shortage has led to the ringing of alarm bells around the world, particularly in the automotive sector.

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battery energy storage

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This morning in metals news: the Energy Information Administration forecasts a “significant number” of battery energy storage systems will come onto the US electricity grid; meanwhile, miner Rio Tinto announced a partnership with renewable energy technology company Heliogen; and, lastly, global copper mine production levels came in about flat compared with 2020.

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EIA forecasts increase in battery energy storage

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) today projected an increase in battery energy storage systems on the US power grid.

In its Annual Energy Outlook 2021, the EIA projected 59 GW of battery storage will serve the US power grid in 2050.

“Battery storage systems store electricity produced by generators or pulled directly from the grid, and they redistribute that electricity later,” the EIA noted. “They typically charge, or store, electricity during hours of the day with relatively high energy supply, low energy demand, and low power prices. The batteries are then available to discharge electricity during hours with low supply, high demand, high power prices, or when the grid needs backup capacity for reliability.”

Rio Tinto reaches agreement with Heliogen

Miner Rio Tinto announced it had reached an agreement with renewable energy technology company Heliogen.

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British Steel Scunthorpe

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This morning in metals news: British Steel delivered its first rails to Europe under its new ownership group; meanwhile, Alcoa said it will supply low-carbon aluminum for the wheels of Audi’s first electric sports car; and, lastly, the race is on to repair a fire-damaged automotive chip factory in Japan.

Don’t miss the MetalMiner analyst team tomorrow, March 24, at 10 a.m CDT for a 30-minute metals market forecast and strategies to deploy in falling markets: 

British Steel delivers first rails to Europe under new ownership

China’s Jingye Group officially took over British Steel in March 2020.

Now, a year later, British Steel announced it has delivered its first flat-bottomed rail to Europe under the new ownership.

British Steel sent 5,000 metric tons of flat-bottomed rail to the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency.

“This is an important contract for us in a very competitive marketplace,” Commercial Director Craig Harvey said in a release. “Although we have supplied the Finnish network previously, this is the first time a European national rail operator has received rail directly from a contract arranged through our Scunthorpe office.”

The first delivery of rails went out in January, Harvey added. The next delivery is due in May.

Alcoa to supply aluminum for new Audi EV

In addition to the British Steel supply news, Alcoa announced it will supply low-carbon aluminum to Audi for its first electric sports car, the e-tron GT.

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electric vehicle charging

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Most carmakers had a pretty torrid first half of 2020, with factories disrupted, show rooms closed and consumers bunkered down in their homes. Sales plummeted across Europe and North America.

However, the second half of last year and, particularly, the first quarter of this year have seen carmakers’ prospects come roaring back.

The MetalMiner team will present a commodity forecast for copper, aluminum, stainless and carbon steel on Wednesday, March 24, at 10 a.m. CDT

The move to electric vehicles

Yet, the turmoil being experienced by the industry is much more about the stop-go of last year.

Rather than cause a retrenchment, the pandemic has helped accelerate the move to electrification.

The greatest spur, however, has undoubtedly been government legislation.

EU penalties on carmakers that fail to meet emission reduction targets are driving a mass migration from internal combustion engines (ICE) to hybrids and fully electric vehicles. After a slow start, European carmakers are adopting aggressive transition plans.

Volkswagen goes all in on electric vehicles

Just this past week, Volkswagen announced — to the joy of its shareholders, who piled in to push shares up 20% — that the German automaker aims to become the global leader in electric cars by 2025. The automaker is placing heavy bets on next-generation lithium-ion batteries, the Financial Times reported.

Volkswagen says it will sell 1 million electric or hybrid cars this year, a tenfold increase from 2019, with half being fully electric vehicles and the rest plug-in hybrids.

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Ford logo

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This morning in metals news: the global semiconductor shortage continues to impact automotive operations; the oil price tracked back over the past week; and Katherine Tai, the recently confirmed United States Trade Representative, addressed staff on her first day in office.

Don’t miss the MetalMiner analyst team on March 24 at 10 a.m. CDT for a 30-minute metals market forecast and strategies to deploy in falling markets:

Semiconductor shortage hits Stellantis, Ford

As we’ve noted previously, the global semiconductor shortage has impacted the automotive sector in a significant way.

General Motors and Honda have announced disruptions to their operations related to the semiconductor shortage.

Now, according to Reuters, Stellantis — the recently formed merger of Groupe PSA and Fiat Chrysler — and Ford are also experiencing negative impacts.

Stellantis said it will build and hold trucks built at its Michigan and Mexico plants until semiconductors are available, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Ford said it will idle its Ohio assembly plant, the report stated.

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nickel price

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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 of the week here on MetalMiner, including coverage of the nickel price, oil prices, housing starts and more.

Overall, steel prices continue to rise. Meanwhile, after experiencing significant price declines, lead and nickel have steadied of late. Aluminum continues to be on an upward trajectory, while copper has steadied after dropping from a Feb. 25 peak.

The MetalMiner team will be presenting a commodity forecast for copper, aluminum, stainless and carbon steel on Wednesday, March 24, at 10 a.m. CDT:

Week of March 15-19 (nickel price steadies, Honda announces temporary production suspension and more)

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Honda sign

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This morning in metals news: Honda announced it will suspend most of its North American automotive production; copper has leveled off over the last couple of weeks; and service center shipments declined in February.

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Honda to suspend most North American production

In major automotive news, Honda said it will suspend most of its production in North America for a week, Reuters reported.

Per the report, the automaker cited a variety of factors for the production stoppage. The issues included: supply chain problems related to congestion at ports, the semiconductor shortage and inclement weather in recent weeks.

Copper price trends sideways

The LME copper price took a fall in late February and into March.

LME three-month copper fell from a Feb. 25 peak of $9,563 per metric ton down to $8,757 per metric ton March 4.

Since then, however, the price has traded sideways. Three-month copper closed Thursday at $9,025 per metric ton.

Service center shipments down in February

According to the Metals Service Center Institute, service center shipments declined in February.

US steel shipments fell by 4.4% year over year. Meanwhile, aluminum shipments fell by 2.0% year over year.

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ArcelorMittal logo

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This morning in metals news: ArcelorMittal announced a series of low-carbon initiatives; meanwhile, US import prices increased in February; and, lastly, the aluminum price has picked up this week.

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ArcelorMittal unveils XCarb™ low-carbon initiatives

ArcelorMittal today announced a trio of new low-carbon initiatives under the umbrella of what it is calling XCarb™.

“XCarb™ will ultimately bring together all of ArcelorMittal’s reduced, low and zero-carbon products and steelmaking activities, as well as wider initiatives and green innovation projects, into a single effort focused on achieving demonstrable progress towards carbon neutral steel,” ArcelorMittal said.

The program will include green steel certificates for customers.

“Across our ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products operations, we are investing in a broad range of initiatives to reduce carbon emissions from the blast furnace,” ArcelorMittal said. These initiatives range from our flagship Smart Carbon projects, such as Torero (transforming biomass into bio-coal to replace the use of coal in the blast furnace) and Carbalyst (capturing carbon-rich blast furnace waste gas and converting it into bio-ethanol, which can then be used to make low-carbon chemical products) to capturing hydrogen-rich waste gases from the steelmaking process and injecting them into the blast furnace to reduce coal use.”

In addition, the program includes recycled and renewably produced “pioneering products.”

Lastly, XCarb™ will also include an innovation fund. ArcelorMittal says it will invest $100 million annually into the fund. The fund will go toward “groundbreaking companies developing pioneering or breakthrough technologies that will accelerate the steel industry’s transition to carbon neutral steelmaking.”

Import prices rise

In addition to today’s ArcelorMittal news, US import prices picked up 1.3% in February, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Import prices gained, in part, due to higher fuel prices.

Prices for import fuel rose 11.1% in February after rising 9.0% in January.

Aluminum price gains

The LME three-month aluminum price closed Tuesday at $2,201 per metric ton.

A week ago, LME three-month aluminum reached $2,169 per metric ton.

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hot rolled steel

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This morning in metals news: U.S. Steel offered a bullish view of the steel market in its first-quarter guidance; the Chinese steelmaking city of Tangshan is moving to tackle pollution; and the tin price has bounced back up over the last two weeks.

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U.S. Steel bullish on steel fundamentals

U.S. Steel released its first-quarter guidance Friday, in which President and CEO David B. Burritt indicated the company is bullish on steel fundamentals.

“Solid market fundamentals, low steel supply chain inventories, continued consumer-driven demand, and pent-up infrastructure demand has us increasingly bullish,” he said.

U.S. Steel expects adjusted net income in the first quarter to come in at $160 million, excluding special items.

The steelmaker has benefited from rising steel prices.

“The Flat-rolled segment is expected to generate significantly higher sequential EBITDA in the first quarter,” the steelmaker said in its guidance. “Higher steel prices over the past several months are increasingly flowing through the segment’s average selling prices in its adjustable and reset annual fixed price contracts. Additionally, the restart of Gary #4 blast furnace has improved operating efficiency.”

Tangshan authorities to address steelmaking pollution

Authorities in the city of Tangshan, a major steelmaking hub, aim to address heavy pollution levels in the northern Chinese city, the South China Morning Post reported.

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The Stainless Monthly Metals Index (MMI) rose by 4.3% for this month’s reading, as news of a supply deal by China’s Tsingshan Holding Group helped push the nickel price downward.

March 2021 Stainless MMI chart

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Nickel price falls on Tsingshan supply deal news

The nickel price, like most other base metals, surged through the first two-thirds of February.

The LME nickel price reached as high as $19,722 per metric ton as of Feb. 21.

From there, however, the price dropped, particularly after news of supply deals by China’s Tsingshan Holding Group.

Tsingshan will provide a total of 100,000 metric tons of nickel matte to Huayou Cobalt and CNGR Advanced Material, Reuters reported.

“Nickel’s narrative has largely been predicated on a shortage of battery-grade metal driven by EV demand,” MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns explained earlier this month.

“However, Tsingshan’s supply contract and capacity announcements suggest there will be sufficient supply. As a result, the nickel market reflected a sharp rethink of the deficit view.

“Demand undoubtedly remains robust for nickel. Its medium- to longer-term outlook remains positive on the back of stainless and battery demand.”

A price drop at some point was expected.

“It’s expected that the market would see some price corrections,” MetalMiner CEO Lisa Reisman explained. “Now we are looking closely to see if prices break support levels or hold. Most of the base metals appear to have held onto their support, with the exception of nickel.

“However, the falling nickel price will not result in more availability or shorter lead times. In fact, more fabricators and OEMs have started to pursue import options to help alleviate supply chain hiccups.”

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