Articles in Category: Green

This morning in metals news: General Motors announced it had purchased a stake in Pure Watercraft, a firm specializing in “all-electric boating solutions”; aluminum prices ticked up ahead of Thanksgiving; and, lastly, Thyssenkrupp commissioned its 35th EnviNOx® system, which reduces nitrous oxide emissions.

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GM buys stake in electric watercraft firm

General Motors headquarters in Detroit, Michigan

Katherine Welles/Adobe Stock

When it comes to the automotive space and electrification, we typically focus on EVs that operate on land.

However, automaker General Motors recently announced it had purchased a stake in Pure Watercraft, which produces all-electric boating solutions. GM purchased a 25% stake in the Seattle-based firm.

“The collaboration between GM and Pure Watercraft advances a shared vision to promote sustainability through an expansion of zero-emissions mobility for future generations and reflects the holistic approach necessary for widespread EV adoption,” GM said.

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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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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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This morning in metals news: auto sales in China fell by 9.4% on a year-over-year basis; meanwhile, Norsk Hydro is exploring new renewable hydrogen projects; and, lastly, ArcelorMittal reported its Q3 2021 results, including its strongest net income figure since 2008.

MetalMiner has launched a full suite of precious metals as part of the MetalMiner Insights platform. This includes a complete suite of catalytic converter precious metals, which are particularly useful for automotive end-use applications.

China auto sales down 9.4%

cars on the road in Shanghai, China

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China auto sales fell by 9.4% year over year in October, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers reported. October sales totaled 2.3 million vehicles.

However, the October sales total rose by 12.8% month over month. Sales increased on a month-over-month basis for the second straight month on the heels of five straight months of month-over-over month declines.

Sales in the year to date totaled 20.1 million vehicles, up 6.4% year over year.

Hydro, Shell to explore renewable hydrogen

Oslo-based Norsk Hydro announced it is working with Shell New Energies Holding Europe B.V. to explore potential joint renewable hydrogen projects.

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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:

MetalMiner has launched a full suite of precious metals as part of the MetalMiner Insights platform. This includes a complete suite of catalytic converter precious metals, which are particularly useful for automotive end-use applications.

Week of Nov. 1-5 (aluminum prices, a Section 232 deal and much more)

aluminum ingot

WestPic/Adobe Stock

  • Stuart Burns touched on the latest supply chain challenge for metals producers: magnesium shortages.
  • The U.S. and E.U. have reached an agreement that will see to an at least partial rollback of Section 232 tariffs in favor of a tariff-rate quota system for both steel and aluminum.
  • Burns delved further into the Section 232 deal, particularly language regarding cooperation on sustainability.
  • After peaking in mid-October, aluminum prices have since plummeted by 20%.
  • U.S. steel capacity utilization fell to 84.3% last week, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported.
  • Sohrab Darabshaw checked in on the COP26 summit in Glasgow, during which Chinese President Xi Jinping called for all countries to take stronger action on climate change.
  • Christopher Rivituso outlined recent Tata Steel developments in the U.K. and the Netherlands.
  • U.S. Steel reported net earnings of $1.54 billion in Q3.
  • Icelandic firm Carbfix is implementing a process that can be used to capture carbon from mining and smelting operations.
  • In the second part of his series on the properties of Bitcoin and gold, Nick Athanis takes a look at Bitcoin with respect to the properties of durability, portability and uniformity.
  • ELYSIS, a joint venture of Alcoa and Rio Tinto, announced progress toward the production of carbon-free aluminum.
  • Nichole Bastin recapped the month that was for the aluminum market in the latest installment of the Aluminum Monthly Metals Index.
  • Oil prices have dipped to their lowest in about four weeks, closing Thursday below $80 per barrel.
  • Circling back to aluminum, Burns analyzed a report indicating Russia could put an end to its aluminum export tax next month.

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

This morning in metals news: oil prices fell to their lowest since early October; Anglo American said it aims to achieve carbon-neutral shipping by 2040; and, lastly, stainless steel producer Outokumpu announced its Q3 2021 results.

MetalMiner has launched a full suite of precious metals as part of the MetalMiner Insights platform. This includes a complete suite of catalytic converter precious metals, which are particularly useful for automotive end-use applications.

Oil prices dip to lowest in four weeks

crude oil

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Oil prices fell below the $80 per barrel threshold this week, their lowest since early October.

The WTI crude price closed at $78.81 per barrel, the Energy Information Administration reported. The price dropped by $4.00 per barrel from a week ago.

As readers of the MetalMiner Annual Outlook know, oil price are one of three key factors MetalMiner considers when analyzing commodities markets.

The price drop comes despite yesterday’s news that OPEC+ will stick to its output plan, even in the face of U.S. pressure to pump more oil. (We covered the development in the weekly Commodities Roundup on MetalMiner sister site Spend Matters.)

Meanwhile, U.S. crude inventories for the week ending Oct. 29 increased by 3.3 million barrels from the previous week, according to the EIA’s weekly petroleum status report.

Anglo American aims for carbon-neutral shipping by 2040

Miner Anglo American said it aims to achieve carbon-neutral shipping by 2040.

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With COP-26 running this week in Glasgow, the environment has been one of the main topics in the news. Rightly so, many of you will say. We are doing a pretty fine job of trashing the planet, so it’s about time we collectively did what we can to reverse the damage.

Unfortunately, the metals industry is one of the worst culprits.

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Metals industry and environmental impacts


Sunshine Seeds/Adobe Stock

Whether its mining, refining and smelting, processing or the transport needed to move it among so many intermediate stages of the supply chain, the metals industry is a major source of carbon dioxide, not to mention particulate matter, chemical pollutants and other forms of environmental damage.

Mining alone contributes between 4% and 7% of manmade greenhouse gases.

Unfortunately for the world, the metals industry is also part of the solution to achieve a lower-carbon future.

Metals are integral for electric cars, wind turbines and solar panels, both for their construction and continued development. In order to achieve further technological evolution, we cannot do without metals.

So, an intriguing article in Reuters outlines an opportunity for parts of the metal industry to not just reduce their carbon footprint but actually become carbon negative (that is, remove carbon from the atmosphere rather than add it).

Carbon capture and storage was hailed as the savior of the coal industry many years ago, holding out the hope that the carbon dioxide by-products could be captured and buried underground in depleted oil or gas fields. However, the economics have proved hard to overcome. Few projects have lasted more than a few years. Those that have made it have received significant levels of subsidies.

But Reuters outlined a process more akin to nature’s process, albeit sped up – years rather than millennia.

The post explains how rocks dissolved by rainwater flow into rivers, picking up other minerals such as calcium and magnesium along the way before combining with carbon dioxide and settling on the ocean bed as carbonate minerals, such as limestone. Such rock weathering absorbs around one gigatonne of carbon dioxide each year, the post explains, although the process plays out in painfully slow geological time.

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Two countries, two neighbors, two of the most populated countries in the world — China and India talked of their individual approaches to climate change at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

The event was delayed by a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It comes six years after the landmark Paris accord, which 200 countries signed. They pledged to limit rising global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. In addition, they would pursue efforts to cap heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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India aims for net-zero by 2070

COP26 summit graphic

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As MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns explained last month, India is facing a coal crisis, as stocks have dwindled. Contrary to long-term environmental goals, India remains largely dependent on coal-fired power generation.

Nonetheless, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2070. That is 20 years beyond the goal set by the COP26 organizers and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, is the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference. The conference kicked off Oct. 31 and will run until Nov. 12.

In his speech, Modi pledged the country would meet 50% of its energy needs through renewable sources by 2030. He also said India will achieve net-zero emissions by 2070. India is the world’s third-largest carbon emitter.

Xi calls for ‘stronger actions’

On the other hand, in a statement released during the summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for countries to take “stronger actions” on climate change.

“I hope all parties will take stronger actions to jointly tackle the climate challenge and protect the planet, the shared home for us all,” he said, according to China’s state media agency Xinhua, which published the statement.

Xi did not attend the summit.

Ahead of the COP 26, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) released a detailed statement on its website of the country’s overall commitment to green energy. The NDRC said the construction of wind power and solar power stations with an installed capacity of 30 million kilowatts in the northern and northwestern sandy areas, rocky areas and deserts kicked off in mid-October.

The stations are in northern China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region and northwestern China’s Gansu province, Ningxia Hui autonomous region and Qinghai province, according to a news report in the Global Times.

Despite automotive efforts, China’s net-zero target remains 2060

China plans to increase its use of new energy vehicles in the next decade in order to achieve its peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.

Using a plan released by China’s state council last week, Beijing plans to increase the share of new energy vehicles (NEVs) and clean energy-powered vehicles to 40% by 2030, up from 20% by 2025.

According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, sales of new-energy vehicles through the first nine months of the year reached 2.16 million vehicles. The nine-month total marked a jump of 185.3%.

As per China’s plan, electric vehicles will be promoted. Traditional fuel vehicles will be gradually reduced in sales, public service vehicles will be replaced with electric vehicles. Heavy freight vehicles will be powered by electricity, hydrogen fuel and liquefied natural gas.

But at COP26, a belligerent China called for developed countries to help developing nations do more. Experts at the conference said Xi’s statement failed to make any new commitments on climate change.

China’s aim to reach net-zero by 2060 is also well beyond the 2050 target.

Xi’s comments follow criticism from U.S. President Joe Biden at the summit of the world’s largest economies. Biden criticized China and Russia at a news conference, saying the countries “basically didn’t show up” with climate commitments.

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As we predicted last month, the U.S. and E.U. have used the recent G20 summit in Rome to announce an end to hostilities over the steel and aluminum Section 232 tariffs imposed by the previous Trump administration and perpetuated by President Joe Biden.

“We have agreed with the US to pause our steel and aluminium trade dispute and launch cooperation on a Global Arrangement on Sustainable Steel and Aluminium,” Valdis Dombrovskis, EU trade commissioner, tweeted Saturday.

E.U. and U.S. flags

cunaplus/Adobe Stock

The intriguing issue is not the resolution of the tariffs, to be replaced by a quota system. The second part of the sentence — “cooperating on a global arrangement on sustainable steel and aluminum” — is the interesting part.

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

US-EU work out details on tariff quota system

The negotiations have come up with a “kill two birds with one stone” solution to a dispute that was doing neither side any good. Indeed, the retaliatory measures promised to cause even more harm from next month if the sides did not reach a solution.

Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security advisor, told reporters the deal removed “one of the largest bilateral irritants in the US-EU relationship” according to the Financial Times.

The tariffs will be replaced by a quota system, probably adjusted annually. The exact details of the arrangement are still to be worked out.

But as the U.S. only bought 3.2 million tons of steel from Europe pre-pandemic as a percentage of the total market, European supply has always been a fraction.

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This morning in metals news: the U.S. trade deficit in September jumped 9.2% from the previous month; meanwhile, Rio Tinto is partnering with Carbfix on carbon capture and storage technology; and, lastly, Norsk Hydro is investing in a new automotive extrusion press in China.

Each month, MetalMiner hosts a webinar on a specific metals topic. Sign up for the next webinar, scheduled for 11:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. CDT, Thursday, Oct. 28, during which the MetalMiner team will discuss artificial intelligence and technical analysis.

US trade deficit rises in September

U.S. trade

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The U.S. trade deficit jumped to $96.3 billion in September, the Census Bureau reported.

The September figure jumped from $88.2 billion in August.

Meanwhile, wholesale inventories reached $739.5 billion at the end of September, up 1.1% month over month. The September total increased 12.7% year over year.

Rio Tinto partners on carbon capture, storage

Miner Rio Tinto said it is partnering with Carbfix on technology for carbon capture and storage.

They plan to collaborate on carbon storage underneath the ISAL aluminum smelter in Iceland.

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