Articles in Category: Non-ferrous Metals

copper smelter

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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.

In addition, our May 2021 Monthly Metals Index (MMI) PDF is now available for download. The PDF summary includes an executive summary, trends chart and portions of each MMI article (with each page including a link to the full article).

This month’s MMI continued the general theme of rising prices. Copper, for example, reach an all-time high this week. Iron ore and steel skyrocketed, while just about everything else also moved upward.

As for stainless steel, the United Steelworkers union’s ATI strike continues. The MetalMiner team broke down the stainless market recently as part of our monthly webinar series, a video replay of which is available in the MetalMiner video archive.

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 May 10-14 (the copper price, U.S. Steel’s big announcement and much more)

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This morning in metals news: consultancy GlobalData forecast copper production from the top 10 copper mining companies will rise by up to 3.8% this year; meanwhile, the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs advanced a bill that aims to strengthen Buy American requirements; and, lastly, US import prices rose in April.

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

GlobalData: copper production from top 10 companies to rise by up to 3.8% in 2021

copper mine

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Amid a run of record copper prices, increased copper production this year could take some of the steam out of the market.

According to London-based consultancy GlobalData, copper production from the top 10 copper mining companies in the world could rise by up to 3.8% this year.

Meanwhile, output from the 10 companies — which includes Glencore, Antofagasta, BHP and Freeport-McMoRan — fell by 0.2% in 2021, GlobalData reported Thursday.

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This morning in metals news: aluminum roller and recycler Novelis announced its quarterly financial results; meanwhile, the United States International Trade Commission voted Tuesday on anti-dumping duties for prestressed concrete steel wire strand; and, lastly, the Consumer Price Index rose by 0.8% in April.

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

Novelis reports ‘outstanding’ quarter

earnings sign

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Aluminum roller and recycler Novelis reported net income of $180 million during the quarter ending March 31, 2020 (Q4 of fiscal year 2021).

The performance marked a jump from $63 million in Q4 of fiscal year 2020.

“Guided by our purpose and driven by the resilience of our people and the strength of our partnerships, we safely navigated this extraordinary year to achieve outstanding results,” President and CEO Steve Fisher said. “With the ongoing successful integration of Aleris, a diverse and innovative product portfolio, and unmatched geographic footprint, we have proven our ability to deliver sustainable aluminum solutions to customers in a way that resulted in record financial performance.”

Furthermore, among other factors, higher average aluminum prices helped drive a 33% year-over-year rise in sales to $3.6 billion.

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The Aluminum Monthly Metals Index (MMI) jumped 7.7% for this month’s reading, as the aluminum physical delivery premium continues to rise.

May 2021 Aluminum MMI chart

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Delivery premium continues to rise

aluminum ingot stacked for export

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The US Midwest Premium, like just about everything else these days, continued to inch upward in recent weeks.

After falling to $0.12 per pound in early February, the premium has more than doubled since then. The Midwest Premium hit $0.26 per pound ($573 per metric ton) to close last week.

As MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns noted previously, rising delivery premiums are an indicator of market tightness.

“China’s pull on the rest of the world’s aluminium supply does not appear to be abating,” Burns explained last month.

“Beijing has tried to cool speculative activity, which is undoubtedly playing a part in the SHFE price premium.”

In addition, he said elevated premiums are likely to remain a feature of the market the rest of this year.

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The Copper Monthly Metals Index (MMI) surged by 10.6% for this month’s reading, as the copper price has soared to a record high.

May 2021 Copper MMI chart

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Copper prices reach record highs

Last month, MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns dissected various views on the copper market after prices had retraced from a February peak of around $9,600 per metric ton.

Would the price go up or would it languish? As he noted, banks held differing opinions, with Goldman Sachs being particularly bullish on the red metal.

“JP Morgan is forecasting copper prices to peak at $9,000 per ton this quarter and slide back to $7,865 per metric ton over the second half of the year,” Burns wrote last month. “It argues more plentiful mine supply will take the steam out of the copper market.

“Copper consumers no doubt hope JP Morgan have got it right.

“But as Reuters observes, smelter stocks are low and will take time to replenish. In the meantime, the lack of smelter output in Q2 will leave the market undersupplied in what remains a robust demand environment.”

The answer to the aforementioned question did not take long to materialize.

After previously touching 10-year highs, the copper price has continued to rise and hit record highs this month.

The LME three-month copper price closed Monday at $10,720 per metric ton, up a whopping 19.32% from the previous month.

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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, including whether or not we are in a supercycle, rising EV demand and more:

list of commodities prices

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Week of May 3-7 (supercycle, EV battery demand and more)

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The Construction Monthly Metals Index (MMI) jumped by 12.1% for this month’s reading, as construction spending picked up in March.

May 2021 Construction MMI chart

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US construction spending rises

US construction spending in March reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,513.1 billion, the Census Bureau reported.

The March rate marked a 0.2% increase from February and a 5.2% increase from February 2020.

Meanwhile, construction spending in Q1 rose 4.5% year over year to $328.3 billion.

Broken down further, spending on private construction reached a rate of $1,169.2 billion, or up 0.7% from February. Within private construction, residential construction came in at a rate of $725.2 billion, or up 1.7%. Nonresidential construction dipped 0.9% to $444.0 billion.

Public construction spending, meanwhile, reached $343.9 billion, or down 1.5%. Educational construction fell 2.0% to $85.3 billion. Highway construction slipped 2.2% to $98.8 billion.

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Nickel prices and, as a result, stainless surcharges, remain in the doldrums this month, recovering only slightly from last month’s sharp sell-off.

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Nickel prices drop in March

nickel price

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Nickel’s bull story took a hit at the beginning of March by announcements from China’s Tsingshan Group. The firm said it intended to produce battery-grade material from nickel matte, undermining the market’s electric vehicle (EV) narrative.

That is last month’s news. Reuters confirmed the move would effectively close the processing gap between the sort of nickel used by the stainless steel industry and that used for lithium-ion battery production. That undermines the perception that battery-grade nickel is a constrained market facing a looming wall of demand.

Yet, EV demand has always been part of the future, rather than the present.

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low carbon steel

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This morning in metals news: U.S. Steel announced it is ending plans for $1.5 billion in upgrades to the Mon Valley Works site; the Census Bureau reported construction spending figures for March; and the copper price has heated up once again.

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U.S. Steel ends Mon Valley Works plans

In an open letter posted to the company website Friday, U.S. Steel CEO David B. Burritt announced the steelmaker is ending plans to spend $1.5 billion in plant upgrades for the Mon Valley Works facility.

According to Burritt, the decarbonization efforts included in the upgrades do not go for enough.

“Today is a difficult day,” Burritt said. “U. S. Steel is setting aside this project as we step forward to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world. In this world – a world that still needs steel – we need to find aggressive decarbonization solutions. The project we had planned in 2019 would have decreased our carbon footprint, but we must now move farther and faster. Just as steel transformed the world, the world is now transforming steel.”

Burritt emphasized that much has changed in the two years since the company announced plans to upgrade the plant.

“At the onset of the pandemic, U. S. Steel agreed with the need for the County Health Department to temporarily delay its permitting process for the Mon Valley Works, but this delay allowed for a consequential window of time during which we expanded our understanding of steelmaking’s future in a rapidly decarbonizing world,” he added.The world is changing rapidly and we’re on the ten-yard line with 90 yards ahead of us.”

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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, including rising global crude steel production, automotive sector developments and much more:

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steelmaking in an EAF

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Week of April 26-30 (global steel production, oil prices and more)

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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