Articles in Category: Ferrous Metals

Novolipetsk Iron & Steel (NLMK) is undertaking at its main production site in Russia upgrade work on one of the slab reheating furnaces, which will see hot rolling Mill 2000’s capacity rise by 7%, the steelmaking group said.

The planned work will push Mill 2000’s annual rolling capacity up by about to approximately 6.23 million metric tons, NLMK indicated.

NLMK logo

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The mill’s current rolling capacity is now 5.8 million tons, group spokeswoman Marina Simonova told MetalMiner.

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NLMK upgrade work

Upgrade work on the reheating furnace includes installation of equipment that can automatically adjust the temperature, depending on the grade of steel that Mill 2000 rolls. The work will also lower carbon emissions from the furnace by 53,000 metric tons, the group said.

Work on the reheating furnace will also result in a 23% increase in its own annual throughput capacity to 2.25 million metric tons per year, from 1.83 million metric tons, group figures indicated.

NLMK plans to complete work on and restart the furnace in Q2 2023. Estimated cost of the project is ₽5 billion ($67.8 million), the group also said.

The work, however, will not impact Mill 2000’s operations, as there are four additional furnaces that have already undergone overhauls.

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This morning in metals news: the U.S. steel capacity utilization rate fell to 83.2% last week; North American Stainless maintained its stainless steel fuel surcharge; and, lastly, crude oil prices have lost steam this week.

Each month, MetalMiner hosts a webinar on a specific metals topic. The MetalMiner team will discuss price predictions for 2022 during its final webinar of the year, scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 8. 

US steel capacity utilization rate hits 83.2%

steel production

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The U.S. steel capacity utilization rate fell to 83.2% for the week ending Nov. 27, down from 84.3% the previous week, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported.

Steel output last week totaled 1.84 million net tons. The total marked a 1.3% decline from the previous week but a 13.3% year-over-year gain.

For the year to date, production reached 86.3 million net tons, or up 19.7% year over year.

U.S. steel prices have finally started to soften. U.S. HRC closed last week at $1,793 per short ton, according to MetalMiner Insights data, or down 5.6% month over month. Meanwhile, U.S. CRC closed at $2,111, down 0.3% month over month.

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Lower auto sales in Europe have put West European hot rolled coil prices under pressure. However, demand from construction is nonetheless helping to support prices for the flat-rolled product.

“People want to invest their money into something,” one trader source told MetalMiner.

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Hot rolled coil prices slide

hot rolled coil steel

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ArcelorMittal had originally sought €1,080 ($1,210) in November. While that price remains the Luxembourg group’s official one, transactions have taken place at lower levels.

Large-volume transactions have occurred in November at €980-1,000 ($1,095-1,120) per metric ton exw for delivery in January, the trader said.

Transactions for smaller volumes €1,050 ($1,175), the trader added.

Imports from Russia and Turkey have transacted at an average of about €865 ($970) per ton cfr Europe, the trader noted.

Auto registrations slow

New automobile registrations in the European Union totaled 665,000 units for October. That marked a drop of more than 30% year over year from 950,000 units, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) said Nov. 18.

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While you may be busy putting the finishing touches on your Thanksgiving spread and, subsequently, taking a turkey-induced nap, you might find some time to revisit this week’s coverage, including oil prices, global crude steel production and much more.

Thanksgiving

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But first, in case you missed it, MetalMiner is hosting its final monthly webinar of the year at 10:00 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, Dec. 8. Metal buying organizations will not want to miss it, as the MetalMiner team will delve into price predictions for 2022. For more information about the webinar and to sign up, those interested should visit the MetalMiner Events page.

Elsewhere, MetalMiner also recently launched a suite of precious metals within the MetalMiner Insights platform. In addition to gold and silver, the suite includes platinum and palladium (of particular relevance to the automotive sector), plus rhodium, iridium and ruthenium.

Without further ado, here’s a recap of this week’s coverage:

We’re off today and tomorrow but will resume regular coverage Monday.

But for now, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, MetalMiner readers!

Yesterday, MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns touched on the aluminum market and plummeting inventories, a trend in stark contrast to former times of plenty.

Meanwhile, in the steel market, global crude steel production totaled 145.7 million metric tons in October, the World Steel Association reported.

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Steel production slides

steel production

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The October steel total marked a decline of 10.6% on a year-over-year basis. Meanwhile, output increased by 0.4% compared with the previous month.

In China, the world’s top steel producer, output peaked this year at 99.5 million tons in May. Since then, China’s output has declined each month, according to the World Steel Association.

The country’s October steel production totaled 71.6 million tons, down from 73.8 million tons in September.

The pace of GDP growth in China slowed to 4.9% in Q3, according to National Bureau of Statistics data. GDP had increased by 7.9% year over year in Q2 2021.

For the year to date, China’s output of 877.1 million tons marks a year-over-year decline of 0.7%.

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(Editor’s note: The following is a guest post from C.J. Nord, C.P.M., CSCP, founder of the nonprofit Supply Chains for Good, and Harry Moser, founder and president of the Reshoring Initiative.)

Don’t hold out hope for the U.S.’s stainless steel shortage to get better until you know of new supply coming online.

There appear to be no plans in the works to increase domestic production. Supply may tighten even more than we have seen. This is similar in scale to the chip shortage.

Stainless steel shortage factors

ATI logo

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Like almost all factory shortages, multiple factors have led to the stainless steel shortage.

The shortage became a national concern in January 2021, when ATI Metals took 304 stainless offline and shifted production to 316 grade.

The news of that change didn’t make it downstream. Our nation is still underinformed about the shortage of this type of steel. Stainless is critical for multiple applications in a broad range of industries.

The ATI change took roughly 30% of our nation’s supply offline. Furthermore, only about 10% has come back online (these are rough numbers based on our surveys of users and distributors).

If a mill decides to bring 304 online, it could take as much as a year for supply to reach the distributor level.

This is a long-term, painful shortage.

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Before we head into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the week that was and the metals storylines here on MetalMiner:

Each month, MetalMiner hosts a webinar on a specific metals topic. The next webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 8, during which the MetalMiner team will discuss price predictions for 2022. To sign up, visit the MetalMiner Events page.

stainless steel rods

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Week of Nov. 15-19 (stainless steel base prices, infrastructure bill and more)

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This morning in metals news: Merchants Fleet will expand its purchases of BrightDrop electric vehicles to 18,000; meanwhile, the Producer Price Index for metals and metal products increased in October; and, finally, the United States International Trade Commission issued a vote on freight rail coupler systems from China.

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Merchants Fleet to expand EV orders from GM’s BrightDrop

electric vehicle charging

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Fleet management company Merchants Fleet will expand its orders of BrightDrop electric vehicles to 18,000.

BrightDrop, a General Motors company, focuses on electrifying the commercial delivery and logistics industry.

“BrightDrop, the technology startup helping decarbonize last-mile deliveries, today announced that Merchants Fleet, the nation’s fastest growing fleet management company, plans to expand its purchase order to 18,000 BrightDrop electric vehicles with the addition of 5,400 EV410s – the recently unveiled mid-size electric light commercial vehicle (eLCV),” GM said in a release.

“The EV410 order adds to the 12,600 EV600s slated to be integrated into the company’s fleet starting in 2023.”

PPI for metals, metal products rises

The Producer Price Index for metals and metal products reached 323.7 in October, according to Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED).

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Metals will play a significant role in helping governments and companies to address climate issues by aiding the transition to cleaner energy and ultimately decreasing carbon emissions, industry watchers said.

“The metals industry is crucial to facilitating this,” one analyst told MetalMiner.

“If you want energy transition, it is not going to happen without metals and mining,” the analyst added.

His and other analysts’ comments come as the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26 (Conference of the Parties), which took place in Glasgow from Oct. 31-Nov. 13.

Are you under pressure to generate steel cost savings? Make sure you are following these five best practices

Phasing out coal

carbon emissions

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The conference ended with an agreement to work towards limiting an increase in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Chief amongst the steps to achieve that is the limiting of coal.

Up to 40 countries had originally planned to “phase out” coal usage in the next 10-20 years. However, the world’s largest users — China, India and the United States — were able to change the wording to “phase down.”

Much depends on China and what it does with coal, however. That includes running power stations and providing feedstock for steelmakers’ coking ovens, the first analyst said.

“I don’t doubt that China will wean itself off of coal,” the first analyst said, “but the reality is that coal will be around in another 30 years.”

Other parts of the climate agreement included 100 countries’ agreement to achieve a 30% cut in methane levels by 2030. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also announced at the conference his country’s plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2070 as well as to achieve some reduction by 2030.

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The U.S. steel sector’s capacity utilization rate reached 84.1% for the week ending Nov. 13, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported.

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Steel capacity utilization

steel production

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Steel capacity utilization reached 84.1%, up from 83.4% the previous week.

Steel output last week totaled 1.86 million tons, up 0.6% from the previous week. On a year-over-year basis, steel output jumped by 14.5%. Last year at the same point, steel capacity utilization reached 73.3%.

For the year to date, steel output has reached 82.58 million tons, up 20.0% year over year.

Infrastructure bill boost

On Monday, President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law on the heels of months of debate in Congress.

The over $1 trillion bill includes $550 billion for infrastructure improvements for roads, bridges, the electric grid and more.

“This law makes this the most significant investment in roads and bridges in the past 70 years,” Biden said during remarks on the South Lawn on Monday. “It makes the most significant investment in passenger rail in the past 50 years and in public transit ever.

“So, what — what that means is you’re going to be safer, and you’re going to get there faster, and we’re going to have a whole hell of a lot pollution — less pollution in the air.

“The bipartisan law will modernize our ports, our airports, our freight rail to make it easier for companies to get goods to market; reduce supply chain bottlenecks, as we’re experiencing now; and lower cost for you and your family.”

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