Articles in Category: Manufacturing

metal-buying-risky-business-metal-minerLast week, Lisa Reisman (CEO, Azul Partners; Executive Editor, MetalMiner) sat down with Ron Wilson (CPO, Wilbur Curtis) and Bill DeMartino (General Manager, North American Operations, riskmethods) to discuss how metal-buying organizations are staying smart on risk. It made for a engaging conversation around risk management processes and strategy, and provided manufacturers of all sizes with a comprehensive risk management go-forward plan.

Although the live event experienced some unforeseen technical difficulties, MetalMiner is pleased to present the clean recording of Reisman’s discussion with Wilson and DeMartino. You can view the presentation by clicking the link below:

Liquid steel.

Photollug/Adobe Stock

European steelmakers are coming together to fight a common enemy: EU carbon reforms.

According to a recent report from Reuters, steelmakers across the continent are writing EU leaders, emphasizing they not burden the industry with what they feel are superfluous carbon emission regulation costs. Such costs, they argue, would put them at a competitive disadvantage with their global peers as well as increase the risk of job cuts and plant closures.

“You can avoid burdening the sector with high costs that will constrict investment, or that will increase the risk of job losses and plant closures in the EU,” the CEOs say in an open letter, obtained by Reuters, dated May 28, to EU heads of state and government.

Want a short- and medium-term buying outlook for aluminum, copper, tin, lead, zinc, nickel and several forms of steel? Subscribe to our monthly buying outlook reports!

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Nickel, along with zinc, could see a boost on the heels of the Chinese government cracking down on the steel industry.

According to a recent report from Reuters, nickel and zinc prices reached their highest point in more than two weeks with China cutting down on production of both metals.

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“The Chinese government is becoming quite aggressive in targeting environmental problems,” Oxford Economics commodities analyst Dan Smith told Reuters.

With supply in China in question, industrial demand for nickel continues to gain momentum, pushing prices for the metal up, along with prices of aluminum and zinc, according to a recent report from the Economic Times.

On the Multi Commodity Exchange, nickel for delivery in May rose by 0.6%, the Economic Times report stated.

Nickel Price Forecast for 2017

Nickel prices at future trade are also being supported by a boost in demand from alloy producers in the spot market, according to the news source.

How will nickel and base metals fare in 2017? You can find a more in-depth copper price forecast and outlook in our brand new Monthly Metal Buying Outlook report. For a short- and long-term buying strategy with specific price thresholds:

AdobeStock/Pavel Losevsky

Beijing’s focus on supply-side reforms of China’s giant aluminum industry has been a prime mover for the metal price this year.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

But primary metal price rises aside, of more concern to aluminum consumers should be the nature and extent of China’s aluminum semi-finished product exports. There have been various facets to China’s product exports, as Andy Home of Reuters succinctly explained in an article last week.

On the one hand, the growing volume of product exports has ignited considerable trade tensions with the U.S. and Europe. In the case of the former, the article reports, it led to a formal complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and, more recently, a Section 232(b) investigation under the Trump administration. In Europe, expiring duties have been rolled over on imports of aluminum wheels from China and further action sought by trade bodies on a range of aluminum products.

Meanwhile, rumours that an indeterminate but significant proportion of China’s semi-finished product exports were in fact primary metal being illegally classified as semi-finished product to circumvent export duties on unwrought aluminum have at least partially been vindicated, as a focus has been brought to bear on a massive stock of aluminum held in Mexico last year that appeared to originate from Vietnam but with links to China.

Home explained that China’s exports of commodity code 7604 (bars rods and extruded profiles) have mushroomed from just over 6,000 tons in 2012/2013 to 463,000 tons in 2015 and 510,000 tons in 2016. Some of that metal appeared in Mexico last year before media attention encouraged the metal to be recycled back to an obscure port in Vietnam. Read more

AdobeStock/vvoe

The International Lead and Zinc Study Group released its Spring 2017 meetings/forecasts report, which found global demand for refined zinc metal is expected to increase 2.6% to 14.30 million tons this year.

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The ILZSG report stated: “There has been little change in European zinc demand over the past five years and further stability is anticipated in 2017 with increases in Belgium, Italy and the Russian Federation being partially offset by a decline in France resulting in an overall rise for the region of a modest 0.7%.”

Furthermore, the ILZSG report found that a significant decrease in apparent demand in the United States last year was most likely influenced “by a drawdown in unreported stocks,” and it’s expected that apparent usage will recover this year to a level similar to what was seen in 2015.

Zinc Supply to Increase with Demand

After experiencing a decline of 5.5% last year, worldwide zinc mine production is expected to grow 6.7% to 13.70 million tons this year. Read more

Photographee.eu/Adobe Stock

What happens when an illegal business practice becomes so common and virtually accepted that it ultimately gets difficult to break?

Many U.S. manufacturers would argue that we’re in a period of global trade that features one such practice: trade circumvention. The most slippery aspect of ferreting out circumvention is first defining which segment of industry gets harmed the most, before even knowing what to do about it. Is it the upstream sector, including primary steel, textiles or plastics production? Or the downstream sector, such as the residential washing machine business?

MetalMiner Executive Editor Lisa Reisman makes the case that the lines between upstream and downstream manufacturing have blurred in this new report, Rules-Based Trade Remains Critical to Manufacturing Health.

But first we must understand the basics. Here’s an excerpt from that paper defining the landscape of trade circumvention in a short primer.

What is Trade Circumvention?

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, circumvention refers to “getting around commitments in the WTO such as commitments to limit agricultural export subsidies. It includes: avoiding quotas and other restrictions by altering the country of origin of a product; measures taken by exporters to evade anti-dumping or countervailing duties.”

Four steel producers filed a petition last September, charging China with circumventing anti-dumping and countervailing duty orders for corrosion-resistant carbon steel and cold-rolled carbon steel by sending substrate materials to Vietnam for processing and re-export. The claim appears to be supported by trade data (as shown by an spike in Vietnamese cold-rolled and CORE imports after November 2015 while the same Chinese imports drastically decreased after duties were imposed on the latter, for example). Read more

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You should credit them for trying. As one of the first foreign multinationals to invest in the Indian market, General Motors has been persevering for over 20 years.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

This month, however, it has finally pulled the plug, announcing that it will stop making cars in India for the Indian market by the end of this year. That doesn’t mean it will cease all manufacturing. Although the firm has already stopped its production in Gujarat, it will continue with its manufacturing foundry at Talegoaon in Maharashtra, making parts and cars for export to the Asian and South American markets.

As part of a wider re-structuring aimed at improving profitability, the BBC reported, GM has put a $1 billion investment plan for India on hold, while also pulling back in South and East Africa. The firm plans to sell a 57.7% shareholding and grant management control to Isuzu in its East African operations, as well as stop selling cars in South Africa and sell its Struandale plant there to the Japanese firm in a re-structuring aimed at creating savings of $100 million per annum.

To be fair, minor successes aside, GM has struggled in India and failed to make much impact on a market originally dominated by domestic brands but latterly by Japanese and Korean firms. Even after more than 20 years, GM’s Chevrolet brand only has 1% of the market.

Commenting on the earlier plan to invest $1 billion in the market to develop its product range in what is forecast to become the world’s third largest car market, GM’s International president Stefan Jacoby is quoted as saying, “We determined that the increased investment required for an extensive and flexible product portfolio would not deliver a leadership position or long-term profitability in the domestic market.” Read more

Looks like the tide has finally turned.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

Extending that metaphor is easier now than it’s ever been for us writing on this topic: the reshoring of American manufacturing from abroad — and specifically, the net gains in jobs that we’ve been seeing in 2016 and early 2017 as compared with the trends in the early 2000s.

(I envision the emigrating jobs huddled together for warmth on a seaworthy vessel, with Shanghai getting smaller in the distance as the Pacific waves toss the boat ever closer toward Long Beach… if only it were that poetic.)

Back to reality. The Reshoring Initiative has just released its 2016 Data Report, and the numbers seem to tell a rosy story. According to the report press release, “in comparison to 2000-2003, when the United States lost, net, about 220,000 manufacturing jobs per year to offshoring, 2016 achieved a net gain of 27,000.”

“The numbers demonstrate that reshoring and FDI are important contributing factors to the country’s rebounding manufacturing sector,” the release concluded.

But of course, it’s not that easy. Major policy changes will have to be made or improved to continue the reshoring trend (which is still in its early stages), according to Harry Moser, founder of the Reshoring Initiative.

In a way, the U.S. should aspire to host conditions like those in Germany, Moser told me, including a supportive government, VAT, low healthcare costs, and an appreciation of the benefit of local sourcing. Read more

Macro photo of a piece of lead ore

The International Lead and Zinc Study Group released its Spring 2017 Meetings/Forecasts, which found that global demand for refined lead metal will increase 2.3% this year to 11.39 million tons.

The main reason? Further development in Chinese usage, which is projected to grow 4.3%.

Want a short- and medium-term buying outlook for aluminum, copper, tin, lead, zinc, nickel and several forms of steel? Subscribe to our monthly buying outlook reports!

The ILZSG report states: “After increasing by a robust 9.8% in 2016, usage of lead metal in Europe is expected to remain unchanged in 2017. A stable outlook is also foreseen in Japan and the Republic of Korea. In both India and the United States modest growth of 1.5% is predicted.”

Lead Supply Update

Furthermore, the ILZSG report states that global lead mine production is projected to increase 4.3% to 4.92 million tons this year, due in part to growth in China and increases in Canada, Mexico, India, Greece and Kazakhstan. Read more

Tin supply is tight on the London Metal Exchange, but is this an isolated issue or just one example of a more far-reaching dilemma?

Writing for Reuters, Andy Home cites LME tin at its lowest level in 20 years, but it’s important to look closer as any comparison to two decades in the past is null and void as the global metals market and LME’s place in it are so different now.

Want a short- and medium-term buying outlook for aluminum, copper, tin, lead, zinc, nickel and several forms of steel? Subscribe to our monthly buying outlook reports!

Home writes: “Unsurprisingly, low inventory is once again generating tightness across short-dated time-spreads, extending a pattern that has been running for a couple of years now.”

He adds that tin price is underperforming as well, currently trading just under $20,000 per ton. This is a 5% decrease when compared to the start of the year, placing it with nickel as the worst performer among significant LME metals.

However, Home writes that there is now more tin inventory in Shanghai Futures Exchange warehouses than in the LME system. Read more