Articles in Category: Ferrous Metals

The Raw Steels Monthly Metals Index (MMI) rose by 7.8% as U.S. and Chinese steel prices continued their rally.

August 2021 Raw Steels MMI chart

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

Executive order on zero emissions, electric vehicles

On Thursday, Aug. 5, President Joe Biden’s office announced its intention to sign an executive order that sets a “new target to make half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 zero-emissions vehicles, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric or fuel cell electric vehicles.”

The announcement was well-received by the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), as this executive order will boost domestic demand for steel. AISI CEO Kevin Dempsey said “the use of American-made steel, which is the cleanest in the world, will be key in the transition to EVs.”

As for the bipartisan infrastructure deal, the Senate voted 69-30 on Tuesday to pass a $1 trillion infrastructure package.

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Tata Steel Europe is eyeing a refractory reline of one of the two blast furnaces at its IJmuiden works (Tata Steel Netherlands) in 2022, a source close to the company told MetalMiner.

Tata Steel plant in IJMuiden, Netherlands

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He declined to say either which of IJmuiden’s two furnaces – BF 6 or BF 7 – would undergo a refractory reline or when in the year. He noted the company needs to speak with customers to determine their needs before deciding when exactly to blow down.

Do you know which market conditions are best with different steel contracting mechanisms? Check out our best practices on this topic.

Pre-engineering work at Tata Steel Netherlands

A blast furnace must continuously operate in campaigns, which normally last 15-20 years as deactivating it can create cracks in the refractory lining. Even when not on stream, blast furnaces must maintain a certain temperature to keep their refractories’ integrity.

Campaigns can also be as long as 30 years in some cases.

Pre-engineering work for the refractory reline at IJmuiden is now under way, the source said. The source added that this could include producing needed parts and acquiring necessary supplies.

“Many of these items you have to order months or even years in advance,” the source added.

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This morning in metals news: the U.S. steel capacity utilization rate dipped to 84.8% for the week ending Aug. 7; BHP and the labor union representing workers at the Escondida mine reportedly extended contract talks by a day; and, lastly, nonfarm labor productivity rose by 2.3% in Q2 2021.

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Steel capacity utilization down to 84.8%

Steel production


U.S. steel capacity utilization fell slightly to 84.8% for the week ending Aug. 7, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported.

The rate marked a slight decline from 85.0% the previous week.

Meanwhile, output last week totaled 1.87 million tons, down 0.2% from the previous week. However, the weekly output marked a year-over-year jump of 26.8%.

U.S. steel production in the year to date totaled 56.4 million net tons, AISI reported, or up 19.3% year over year.

Talks continue between BHP, Escondida workers

Recently, the labor union representing workers at BHP’s Escondida mine — the world’s largest copper mine — have extended contract talks for another day, Reuters reported Monday.

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decarbonizing steel

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German flats producer Salzgitter-Flachstahl, part of the Salzgitter group, and Anglo American have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cooperate on decarbonizing steel production, the London-headquartered company announced.

The work will include methods to reduce carbon emissions by researching iron ore pellets and lump ores that would be suitable for use in direct reduction steelmaking, Anglo American said in an Aug. 4 announcement.

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

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This morning in metals news: Rio Tinto announced it is working with Komatsu to develop zero-emission mining haulage solutions; meanwhile, Norsk Hydro announced new investments in North America; and, lastly, U.S. steel prices continue to rise, although the pace of gains has slowed somewhat.

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Rio Tinto, Komatsu to team up on zero-emission hauling

Rio Tinto sign

Argus/Adobe Stock

As the world transitions, albeit slowly, to use of more renewable forms of energy, demand for a variety of metals used in those applications has increased.

For example, copper, lithium, nickel and cobalt, among others, are in high demand for use in things like electric vehicle batteries.

However, paradoxically, the polluting process of mining must occur to extract those materials.

So, to mitigate this impact, some mining companies have announced their own emissions pledges and initiatives toward those goals. Earlier this week, Rio Tinto announced a partnership with Komatsu through which they will “fast-track” development and implementation of zero-emission mining haulage solutions.

“Rio Tinto will conduct a pre-production trial of the new equipment at a Rio Tinto site and has the option to purchase some of the first trucks from Komatsu once they are commercially viable,” the miner said.

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The world’s largest steel producer and exporter, China, is actively contemplating adding more curbs to halt environment pollution which, most likely, will reduce its steel output and dampen exports.

That’s good news for some of China’s neighbors steel-producing rivals, India and Japan.

Stop obsessing about the actual forecasted steel price. It’s more important to spot the trend

Steel cuts

Chinese steel factory

fanjianhua/Adobe Stock

The China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) warned on its Wechat channel last Sunday of impending cuts in crude steel output along with government-led environmental checks.

Daily crude-steel output at major mills fell 5.6% in the first 10 days of July from June, Bloomberg reported. These were at steel plants in Shanxi, Hubei and Hebei provinces, and mills including China Baowu Steel Group and HBIS Group.

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This morning in metals news: U.S. steel capacity utilization reached 85.0% for the week ending July 31; meanwhile, U.S. energy intensity has dropped by about half since 1983; and, lastly, compensation costs for U.S. civilian workers rose by 0.7% from March to June.

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Steel capacity utilization continues to rise

steelmaking in an EAF

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The U.S. steel capacity utilization rate continues to rise, reaching 85.0% for the week ending July 31, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported Monday.

Production during the week totaled 1.88 million net tons. Meanwhile, output rose by 0.4% from the previous week, when the rate touched 84.6%.

For the year to date, output totaled 54.6 million net tons, up 19.1% year over year.

US energy intensity down by half since 1983

U.S. energy intensity has declined by half since 1983, the Energy Information Administration reported.

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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, including stainless demand, a drop in global crude steel production and much more:

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Week of July 26-30 (stainless demand remains robust, global steel output drops and more)

stainless steel

OksanaKuzmina/Adobe Stock

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While global steel production levels remain well ahead of levels seen at the same time last year — when the COVID-19 was still only in its early days and demand had not yet had a chance to bounce back — output levels in June did fall compared with the previous month.

China steel production

Zhao Jiankang/AdobeStock

According to the World Steel Association’s latest monthly report, global crude steel production totaled 167.9 million net tons in June.

Cut-to-length adders. Width and gauge adders. Coatings. Feel confident in knowing what you should be paying for metal with MetalMiner should-cost models.

Steel production falls month over month

Global steel production dropped 4.0% from May’s 174.8 million net tons.

However, global output rose by 11.6% on a year-over-year basis. June 2020 production totaled 150.4 million net tons.

Chinese steel production drops

Top steel producer China also saw its steel production fall in June compared with the previous month.

China, which has moved to curb steel production in efforts to meet emissions targets, produced 93.9 million tons in June. The total marked a 5.6% decline from 99.5 million tons in May.

MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns weighed in on the recent steel price rally in China and the impact of production cut mandates from Beijing.

“Since prices came off they have been making a steady recovery,” he wrote. “Beijing’s pressure to curb excess production capacity as part of wider environmental targets raises the prospect of material shortages in the face of still robust demand.”

The Chinese cold rolled coil price surged above $1,100 per metric ton in May before plunging after Beijing’s attempt to curb prices by issuing a warning to speculators. The price proceeded to drop to around $930 per ton but has since recovered. The Chinese CRC price closed Monday at $996 per metric ton.

Chinese hot rolled coil has followed a similar trajectory, closing Monday at $915 per metric ton.

Around the world

No. 2 steel producer India churned out 9.4 million tons in June, up 21.4% year over year.

Meanwhile, Japan’s output rose 44.4% year over year to 8.1 million tons.

In addition, U.S. production rose 44.4% to 7.1 million tons. Estimated Russian production reached 6.4 million tons, or up 11.4% year over year.

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This morning in metals news: the U.S. steel capacity utilization rate rose further to 84.6% last week; miner BHP announced a nickel supply agreement with Tesla; and, lastly, crude oil imports have been on the rise over the last four weeks.

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

Steel capacity utilization hits 84.6%

steel shipment

Hor/Adobe Stock

Steel capacity utilization in the U.S. steel sector reached 84.6% for the week ending July 24, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported.

The rate increased from 84.1% the previous week and from 60.3% during the same week in 2020.

Steel production during the week ending July 24 totaled 1.87 million net tons, or up 0.5% from the previous week. Furthermore, output increased 38.4% on a year-over-year basis.

BHP announces nickel supply deal with Tesla

Miner BHP announced a new nickel supply deal with electric vehicle maker Tesla.

BHP will supply the EV maker with nickel from its Nickel West asset in Western Australia.

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