Before we head into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the week that was and some of the metals coverage here on MetalMiner, including coverage of: U.S. housing starts; aluminum mills taking steps to make their operations more green; iron ore prices; and the European steel sector.
Global copper mine production dipped last year compared with 2018, according to the most recently monthly data from the International Copper Study Group (ICSG).
Copper concentrate production declined 0.6% and solvent-extraction electrowinning fell by around 1%, the ICSG reported.
Despite a plunging LME price and dire short-term prospects for metal consumption in Europe and the U.S., aluminum mills are still following through on long-term plans to improve their environmental credentials.
They are doing this, particularly, to lower the carbon content of their products to meet buyers’ increasing focus on such environmental considerations.
We are not claiming any particular foresight on this, but a recent Reuters article yesterday covers a topic we wrote on last week concerning the disconnect between China’s aluminum smelters, which managed to raise output by 2.4% during the troubled first two months of this year, and the downstream aluminum semi-finished product producers, which all but shut down due to the enforced government lockdown in many parts of the country.
The result we and Reuters report is SHFE stocks have mushroomed from 185,127 metric tons at the end of December to 519,542 tons now, as smelters churned out metal that no one could use.
This morning in metals news, U.S. raw steel production is up through the first 2 1/2 months of the year, Anglo American will temporarily slow work on its Quellaveco copper project in Peru and China’s copper inventories are up to a four-year high.
The Copper Monthly Metals Index (MMI) held at a value of 70 this month based on a mix of mild price changes globally.
LME copper prices traded sideways during most of February, following late January’s precipitous price drop. However, the price weakened again in early March.
The Aluminum Monthly Metals Index (MMI) dropped three points once again, falling to 80 this month.
After holding sideways for most of February, LME aluminum prices once again grew weaker later in the month. Prices hit new short-term lows as of early March.
This morning in metals news, the U.S steel sector posted a capacity utilization rate of 81.8% through the first two months of the year, a major copper conference has been canceled amid coronavirus concerns and a British Steel takeover deal has finally been reached.
According to the International Copper Study Group, the global copper market was in deficit by approximately 385,000 tons through the first 11 months of 2019.
The LME three-month copper price built some upward momentum in late 2019 and the first two weeks of 2020, rising to just over $6,300/mt as of mid-January.
Since then, however, LME copper has fallen 9.5% — down to $5,727/mt — amid growing fears regarding the coronavirus outbreak in China and reports of a growing number of cases around the world, including in South Korea, Italy and Iran.
This morning in metals news, Australian miner Fortescue reported financial results for the first half of fiscal year 2020, Chinese iron ore futures rise and the LME primary three-month aluminum price slides.