Articles in Category: Green

The Renewables Monthly Metals Index (MMI) held flat for this month’s reading.

September 2021 Renewables MMI chart

(Editor’s note: This report also includes the MMI for grain-oriented electrical steel, or GOES.)

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LG Energy Solution signs cobalt, nickel access deal

Last month, LG Energy Solution announced it had signed an agreement that will give it access to nickel and cobalt supply from Australian Mines Ltd.

“LG Energy Solution has secured 100% rights to battery-grade nickel and cobalt materials from Australian Mines Limited amid growing concerns about future supplies of raw materials,” LG said.

“LG Energy Solution announced Monday it has entered into a binding long form offtake agreement with Australian Mines Ltd. for nickel and cobalt, which will be supplied in the form of mixed hydroxide precipitate (MPH) from the Sconi Project in North Queensland.”

The battery maker will have access to 71,000 tonnes of nickel for six years starting from the end of 2024. For cobalt, the total is 7,000 tonnes.

LG said the supply of nickel and cobalt will allow it to manufacture batteries for 1.3 million “high-performance electric vehicles.”

The battery materials will come from Australian Mines’ Sconi Project, which is currently under development.

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This morning in metals news: U.S. import prices declined by 0.4% in August; the Energy Information Administration surveyed the disruption to electricity customers as a result of Hurricane Ida; and, lastly, the European Steel Association commented on the European Union’s proposed Green Deal.

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US import prices fall


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Running against the recent trend, U.S. import prices fell by 0.4%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Import prices had jumped by 0.4% in July and 1.1% in June.

“The August downturn was led by lower fuel and nonfuel prices,” the BLS reported. “In contrast, prices for U.S. exports advanced 0.4 percent in August, after increasing 1.1 percent in July.”

Hurricane Ida impact on electricity customers

After Hurricane Ida made landfall in New Orleans in late August, many were left without power.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the storm caused at least 1.2 million electricity customers to lose power. The outages spread out over eight states.

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Sweden’s SSAB has announced collaboration plans with two European auto groups on the potential supply of fossil-free steel for auto bodies and parts.

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SSAB to collaborate with European auto groups on potential fossil-free steel supply

Postmodern Studio/Adobe StockThe flats and specialty steelmaker said Sept. 2 that it has agreed to collaborate with French company Faurecia on fossil-free steel to equip its automotive seating structures from 2026.

Faurecia has its headquarters just west of French capital city Paris. Besides auto seats, the company designs and manufactures exhaust systems, as well as interior systems that include dashboards, center consoles, door panels and acoustic modules.

SSAB also jointly announced with Mercedes-Benz on Sept. 1 that it would supply fossil free steel for the German group’s auto bodies, the specialty steelmaker said.

The first fossil-free steel prototypes for the auto group are due to be ready by 2022. Mercedes-Benz plans to become carbon-neutral by 2039 along its entire value chain, the companies stated.

An SSAB official declined to indicate the prospective volumes of steel that the steelmaker could supply to Mercedes-Benz, citing confidentiality agreements.

The collaboration announcements follow SSAB’s Aug. 16 announcement that it has produced the first batch of fossil-free steel at its Oxelösund site. DRI used in the fossil-free steel came from a pilot plant at the company’s Luleå works in central Sweden.

The pilot plant uses HYBRIT technology, which replaces coking coal with hydrogen to reduce iron ore and thus cuts emissions, information from the group stated.

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While much of the world still depends on fossil fuels, demand for battery metals is surging.

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Battery metal demand on the rise

battery energy storage

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South African platinum and palladium producer Sibanye-Stillwater said increasing demand for battery metals is already impacting supply.

“While not yet having material impact on internal combustion engine vehicle sales, increasing demand for battery metals to meet requirements for electric vehicle production is already starting to have substantial implications for battery metal supply,” the South African firm said.

In short, the world will need to expand supply in order to meet that rising demand.

Demand for a variety of critical metals needed for the transition to renewables will be significant. Demand for everything from copper to cobalt is set to skyrocket, the IEA explained its in report titled “The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions.”

Today’s supply and investment plans for many critical minerals “fall well short” of what will be needed, the IEA said.

With demand set to increase many times over in the years ahead, there will need to be additional investment.

“The resultant increased demand for battery metals to support a prolonged expansion of the global battery electric vehicle (BEV) fleet over the next two to three decades, is going to require commensurate increase in the supply of battery metals,” Sibanye-Stillwater added. “Primary expansion of the scale needed to meet BEV growth projected by some market commentators, will be challenging.”

Steps toward the future

South Africa accounts for 70% of global production of platinum, used in catalytic converters to curb harmful emissions from automotive exhaust.

The South African firm touted its various efforts in the battery metals space. The firm acquired an initial stake in the Keliber lithium project in Finland. Furthermore, it made a proposal for the acquisition of the Sandouville nickel refinery in France.

Platinum, palladium output

Sibanye-Stillwater reported platinum and palladium production from its U.S. operations of 298,301 ounces for the six-month period ending June 30, 2021.

The total marked an increase from 297,740 ounces in H1 2020. However, output declined from the 305,327 ounces in H2 2020.

Meanwhile, 4E PGM (i.e., platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold) output in South Africa totaled 894,165 ounces in H1 2021. In H1 2020, 4E PGM output from the firm’s South Africa operations totaled 630,912 ounces.

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While the world looks on with growing concern at the political play unfolding in Afghanistan with the takeover of the Taliban, another sidebar to this developing story that is slowly creeping into public consciousness is the vast treasure-trove of minerals in that country, and how the Taliban government will exploit it.

One estimate by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) given years ago had pegged the worth of Afghanistan’s untapped mineral resources at U.S. $1 trillion. Some Afghan officials have said the actual figure could be three times more.

Afghanistan on a map

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Afghanistan’s mountains contain a wide range of critical resources, including: copper, gold, oil, natural gas, uranium, bauxite, coal, iron ore, rare earths, lithium, chromium, lead, zinc, gemstones, talc, sulphur, travertine, gypsum and marble.

However, even before the U.S. entered its borders 20 years ago, Afghanistan had struggled to tap those reserves.

Two decades later, the situation is not very different.

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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)


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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. 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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