Articles in Category: Company News

This morning in metals news: two Chinese steelmakers are merging to form the world’s third-largest steelmaker; the LME aluminum price lost some ground last week; and, lastly, July construction employment continued to lag in the U.S.

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Major Chinese steelmakers merge

China map

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Two Chinese steelmakers are merging to form the world’s third-largest steelmaking company, state-run news outlet Xinhua reported Friday.

Ansteel and Ben Gang Group Corporation signed a merger deal Friday, Xinhua reported.

Ansteel will have annual production capacity of 63 million metric tons after the merger. Furthermore, the firm is targeting capacity of 70 million metric tons of crude steel by 2025.

Aluminum price dips

Meanwhile, aluminum prices remain elevated, but they took a step back last week.

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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:

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Week of Aug. 16-20 (shipping sector disruptions, Chinese steel prices and more)

Shipping

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This morning in metals news: Toyota this week announced plans to slash production amid the ongoing global semiconductor shortage; unemployment rates fell in 17 states in July; and, lastly, U.S. large-scale battery storage capacity increased by 35% in 2020.

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Toyota to cut production

Toyota logo

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Toyota yesterday announced plans to cut production in September, citing parts shortages stemming from the spread of COVID-19 in Southeast Asia. The automaker plans to cut its global output by 40%.

The production suspensions will impact popular models, including the RAV4 and Camry, among others.

Unemployment down in 17 states

Unemployment rates fell in 17 states in July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Meanwhile, unemployment rates were stable in 33 states.

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This morning in metals news: Sweden’s SSAB has hailed the delivery this week of its first shipment of fossil-free steel; copper prices have been sliding; and, lastly, electricity demand soared last week.

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SSAB ships ‘fossil-free’ steel

SSAB logo

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Swedish steelmaker SSAB has delivered its first shipment of fossil-free steel this week.

“SSAB has now produced the world’s first fossil-free steel and delivered it to a customer,” the firm said Wednesday. “The trial delivery is an important step on the way to a completely fossil-free value chain for iron- and steelmaking and a milestone in the HYBRIT partnership between SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall.”

As nations around the world institute carbon emissions targets, steelmaking is among the heavily polluting industries that must reduce its carbon footprint.

As such, this week’s delivery of what it calls the world’s first fossil-free steel marks a significant milestone, SSAB said.

“The first fossil-free steel in the world is not only a breakthrough for SSAB, it represents proof that it’s possible to make the transition and significantly reduce the global carbon footprint of the steel industry. We hope that this will inspire others to also want to speed up the green transition,” SSAB President and CEO Martin Lindqvist said.

Copper price slides

Despite a number of supply-side scares — as MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns explained yesterday — the copper price has been sliding.

The LME three-month copper price closed Wednesday at $9,168 per metric ton and is down 1.41% from the previous month.

The price has cooled significantly since reaching an all-time high on May 10 of over $10,700 per metric ton.

Electricity surge

Amid high temperatures around the country, electricity demand surged last week.

Electricity demand reached a high of 720 gigawatthours on Aug. 12 for the hour ending 5 p.m. EDT. That day, most of the U.S. recorded a daily high temperature above 90°F, the Energy Information Administration reported.

“Our Hourly Electric Grid Monitor shows that hourly electricity demand in the Lower 48 states reached 720 gigawatthours (GWh) for the hour ending 5:00 p.m. eastern daylight time (EDT) on that day, which is the highest reported value for a single hour since balancing authorities (BAs) began reporting hourly electricity demand to us in July 2015,” the EIA reported. “The previous hourly high was 718 GWh reported for the hour ending 6:00 p.m. EDT on July 20, 2017.”

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Continuing with its acquisition of the U.S. natural gas assets, the Bangkok-based Banpu has now agreed to purchase a combined cycle gas-fired power plant in Texas.

According to Forbes , Banpu, controlled by billionaire Isara Vongkusolkit, will buy the power plant for U.S. $430 million.

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Banpu looks to the future

mergers and acquisitions

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For some time now, Banpu has been investing in sustainable projects as it steers a new course.

Last year, it established Banpu Next, which includes its energy technology businesses. Those include electric vehicles, renewable energy plants and electric ferries.

The company may not exit the coal mining business altogether for another decade or so because of the continued demand for coal. However, it has said it will no longer invest in new coal assets, preferring to put money into renewable energy.

In an interview with CNBC, Chief Executive Somruedee Chaimongkol — sometimes referred to as “Asia’s first lady of coal” — said the firm wanted to make half of its earnings from green energy by 2025.

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This morning in metals news: U.S. industrial production picked up in July; the Energy Information Administration revised downward its OPEC petroleum production forecast; and, lastly, Russia’s Rusal recently announced its half-year results.

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Industrial production increases in July

robot building automotive aluminum component

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U.S. industrial production jumped by 0.9% in July, the Federal Reserve reported this week.

Industrial production rose by 0.2% in June.

Manufacturing output in July rose by 1.4%.

“About half of the gain in factory output is attributable to a jump of 11.2 percent for motor vehicles and parts, as a number of vehicle manufacturers trimmed or canceled their typical July shutdowns,” the Fed reported. “Despite the large increase last month, vehicle assemblies continued to be constrained by a persistent shortage of semiconductors; the production of motor vehicles and parts in July was about 3-1/2 percent below its recent peak in January 2021.”

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This morning in metals news: U.S. steel capacity utilization fell to 84.7% last week, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported; meanwhile, Glencore signed a cobalt supply deal with Britishvolt; and, lastly, the Department of Energy released a brief on investment in solar energy.

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Steel capacity utilization drops to 84.7%

steelmaking in an EAF

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U.S. steel capacity utilization dipped to 84.7% for the week ending Aug. 14, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported, down from 84.8% the previous week.

Steel output last week totaled 1.87 million net tons. Furthermore, output increased by 26.6% year over year from last year’s 1.48 million net tons.

For the year through Aug. 14, U.S steel production totaled 58.3 million net tons. Capacity utilization during the year-to-date period reached 80.3%.

Glencore, Britishvolt reach cobalt supply deal

Miner Glencore announced it has signed a cobalt supply deal with Britishvolt.

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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:

The MetalMiner Best Practice Library offers a wealth of knowledge and tips to help buyers stay on top of metals markets and buying strategies.

Week of Aug. 9-13, 2021 (copper market, steel capacity utilization and much more)

copper mine

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This morning in metals news: the pace of the rise of U.S. import prices slowed in July compared with the previous month; meanwhile, Nucor completed the acquisition of an insulated metal panels business; and, lastly, U.S. steel prices continue to move upward.

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US import prices up 0.3% in July

imports

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U.S. import prices jumped by 0.3% in July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. Higher fuel prices drove the July jump, according to the BLS.

Meanwhile, import prices surged by 1.1% in June.

On the other hand, U.S. export prices rose by 1.3% in July after a 1.2% jump in June.

Nucor acquires insulated metal panels business

Nucor Corporation officially completed the acquisition of Cornerstone Building Brands’ insulated metal panels business, the Charlotte-based steelmaker recently announced.

The acquisition comes at a cash price of $1 billion.

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The Rare Earths Monthly Metals Index (MMI) surged by 30.6% for this month’s reading, as this week a pair of House representatives — a Democrat and Republican — introduced legislation that proposed a tax credit for domestic production of rare earth magnets.

August 2021 Rare Earths MMI chart

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Representatives introduce bill to offer tax credits for rare earth magnet production

Earlier this week, House Reps. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) and Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14) introduced the Rare Earth Magnet Manufacturing Production Tax Credit Act.

Currently, no domestic production of rare earths magnets exists. The legislation proposes a tax credit to incentivize production of the rare earths magnets in the U.S.

“These magnets are used in a wide variety of applications necessary for our modern economy, such as computer hard disks, cell phones, and MRIs,” a press release on Swalwell’s website stated. “They are also critical for certain for clean energy uses.  For example, 93 percent of all electric vehicles contain a powertrain driven by one of these magnets.”

The bill proposes a $20 per kilogram production tax credit for magnets that are manufactured in the United States. Furthermore, it proposes a $30 per kilogram for magnets that are “both manufactured in the United States and for which all component rare earth material is produced and recycled or reclaimed wholly within the United States.”

Chinese rare earths exports dip in July

China’s exports of rare earths totaled 3,955 tons in July, the General Administration of Customs reported.

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