Articles in Category: Non-ferrous Metals

This morning in metals news: tin prices have surged; Norsk Hydro announced the end of a previously announced battery initiative; and, lastly, Cleveland-Cliffs is buying a ferrous scrap processor.

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Tin prices gain

tin

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As we noted earlier this week, news that Indonesia is considering a tin export ban is offering some support to tin prices.

LME three-month tin reached $39,250 per metric ton this week, up 7.2% month over month, according to MetalMiner Insights data.

Meanwhile, from a technical perspective, LME tin trading volumes reached a November peak of 7,138 on Nov. 16. Volumes fell as low as 2,538 later in the month before bouncing back up.

Subscribers can find more tin insights in this month’s Monthly Metal Outlook report.

Norsk Hydro announces end to battery initiative

Earlier this year, Norsk Hydro announced plans to extend its joint battery initiative with Panasonic and energy firm Equinor.

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Chilean copper producer Codelco, the world’s largest, indicated it could see copper prices coming down in 2022.

According to a Reuters report, Codelco CEO Octavio Araneda said prices in 2022 will likely come in slightly lower than in 2021.

As we’ve noted recently, MetalMiner is hosting its final webinar of the year on Wednesday, Dec. 8, during which the MetalMiner team will overview price predictions for metals in 2022. Those interested in participating in the session can sign up on the MetalMiner Events page.

Copper prices stabilize

copper mine

Gary Whitton/Adobe Stock

Like aluminum, LME copper prices on the LME surged to $10,270 per metric ton in late October, according to MetalMiner Insights data.

The price fell back to close the month, however, closing October at $9,490 per metric ton.

Since then, the copper price has trended sideways.

From a technical perspective, LME copper trading volumes reached a November high of 145,635 as of Nov. 2. Volumes fell as low as 69,991 on Nov. 25, during which prices surged briefly and approached MetalMiner resistance levels.

However, the stronger the trading volume, the greater the significance of a corresponding price movement (and vice versa). As such, after jumping to just under $9,900 per metric ton Nov. 25, the price retreated.

LME three-month copper closed the month at $9,510 per metric ton.

Political crossroads

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Recently, MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns delved into the aluminum market deficit, one in which limited aluminum supply and elevated delivery premiums have been persistent features.

However, perhaps to some aluminum buyers’ relief, some supply is coming back online next year.

Each month, MetalMiner hosts a webinar on a specific metals topic. Sign up for the last session of the year, scheduled for Wednesday Dec. 8, during which the MetalMiner team will discuss price predictions for 2022. 

Alcoa to restart idled smelter

Alcoa logo

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Alcoa Corporation earlier this month announced plans to restart an aluminum smelter that had sat idle since 2009.

The firm said it will restart the joint venture Portland Aluminium smelter in Australia, which has a total annual capacity of 358,000 metric tons per year.

However, Alcoa said it plans to restart 35,000 metric tons of capacity.

“Portland Aluminium is an unincorporated joint venture with 358,000 mtpy of total capacity, and Alcoa Corporation has 197,000 mtpy of consolidated capacity,” Alcoa said. “Once the restart is complete, Portland Aluminium will operate at approximately 95 percent of total capacity and Alcoa Corporation will have approximately 186,000 mtpy of its consolidated capacity at Portland operating.”

Renewed production at the Australian smelter is slated to begin in Q3 2022.

In September, Alcoa announced plans to restart its Alumar aluminum smelter in Brazil. The smelter, which has annual capacity of 268,000 metric tons per year, has been idle since 2015.

Midwest premium eases

As Stuart Burns has explained throughout the year, rising aluminum premiums reflect market tightness.

“The aluminum market is undeniably tight, as consumers are having to wait months for metal and the Midwest Premium rises,” Burns wrote back in March. “In some locations — Europe, in particular —  consumers of rolled plate cannot secure new production space until well into Q3.

“Some mills have even pulled out of quoting for new business customers in 2021. Anti-dumping legislation on flat rolled products from China and a fire last year at a Russian rolling mill have combined dramatically restrict supply options for consumers.”

Fast forward to Q4, and inventories in LME depots have continued to dwindle, Burns explained while also covering the background of the post-financial crisis aluminum market and the history of the so-called “stock and finance” trade and the shadowy world of off-warrant stocks.

However, the Midwest aluminum premium has lost some steam over the last couple of months. according to MetalMiner Insights data.

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Two years ago, Indonesia instituted a ban on nickel ore exports.

Now, it is contemplating banning exports of tin and copper ore, too.

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Indonesia export bans prompt tin price surge

Indonesia on a globe

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Indonesian President Joko Widodo has been announcing from different forums that his country may stop the export of bauxite next year, copper ore in 2023 and tin in 2024.

On the heels of the announcements, the tin price has surged, MetalMiner Insights data shows. (Subscribers can find additional tin and copper analysis in the next Monthly Metal Outlook report, which will be released Wednesday, Dec. 1.)

The LME three-month tin price closed Monday at $39,450 per metric ton. The price is up 6.6% month over month.

For long, Indonesia has been a major exporter of metal ores, mostly to Asian countries, including China and Japan. The ban on nickel exports had triggered investments, mostly from China, into Indonesian nickel processing.

As part of efforts to improve the country’s external balance & attract investments into the resource processing industry, Indonesia may stop tin exports in 2024, the Indonesian President reiterated last week at the Indonesian central bank’s annual gathering.

The president has made similar statements in recent public appearances about the country’s long-term dependence on raw commodities, reducing its export earnings and employment opportunities.

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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.

Cut-to-length adders. Width and gauge adders. Coatings. Feel confident in knowing what you should be paying for metal with MetalMiner should-cost models.

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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While you may be busy putting the finishing touches on your Thanksgiving spread and, subsequently, taking a turkey-induced nap, you might find some time to revisit this week’s coverage, including oil prices, global crude steel production and much more.

Thanksgiving

Alexander Raths/Adobe Stock

But first, in case you missed it, MetalMiner is hosting its final monthly webinar of the year at 10:00 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, Dec. 8. Metal buying organizations will not want to miss it, as the MetalMiner team will delve into price predictions for 2022. For more information about the webinar and to sign up, those interested should visit the MetalMiner Events page.

Elsewhere, MetalMiner also recently launched a suite of precious metals within the MetalMiner Insights platform. In addition to gold and silver, the suite includes platinum and palladium (of particular relevance to the automotive sector), plus rhodium, iridium and ruthenium.

Without further ado, here’s a recap of this week’s coverage:

We’re off today and tomorrow but will resume regular coverage Monday.

But for now, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, MetalMiner readers!

This morning in metals news: Norsk Hydro plans to begin construction on its new aluminum recycling plant in Cassopolis, Michigan, in Q2 2022; meanwhile, U.S. utilities are spending more on electricity delivery; and, lastly, the United States International Trade Commission recently voted to continue investigations regarding imports of oil country tubular goods from Argentina, Mexico, Russia and South Korea.

Make sure you are following the five best practices of sourcing aluminum

Construction to begin next year on Hydro’s new Michigan aluminum recycling plant

Norsk Hydro

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Norsk Hydro said it is on track to begin construction in Q2 2022 on its new aluminum recycling plant in Cassopolis, Michigan.

“The Cassopolis greenfield development will mark the first large-scale production of Hydro CIRCAL® extrusion ingot in North America. We look forward to bringing this high-quality, low-carbon product to our most demanding customers,” said Eivind Kallevik, executive vice president of Hydro Aluminium Metal.

The extrusion ingot will be used in automotive, construction and consumer applications, in addition to building systems. The plant will have annual capacity of 120,000 tons per year.

Utilities pay more for electricity delivery

U.S. utilities are paying for more electricity delivery but less for power production, the Energy Information Administration reported today.

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Longtime readers of MetalMiner may recall a number of aluminum posts we have put out over the years since the financial crisis that explore shadow stocks or the “stock and finance trade” inventory that have referred to the murky world of “off-warrant,” or non-exchange, reserves of aluminum. Those reserves are often hard to determine in terms of location, volume or ownership.

They have remained an enduring feature of the global aluminum market. The market’s perception of their size and the possibility of their delivery back into circulation have been persistent influences on the market price.

See why technical analysis is a superior forecasting methodology over fundamental analysis and why it matters for your aluminum buy.

Aluminum after the financial crisis

aluminum ingot

WestPic/Adobe Stock

The stock grew in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, as the world went into a form of financial lockdown. All manner of downstream activities from automotive to household goods stopped consuming aluminum.

Recovery took many months, indeed stretched in 2010 before Chinese stimulus measures rippled out into the world, stimulating demand and facilitating a return to strong growth.

But primary aluminum mills — partially protected by power and alumina supply contracts linked to the ingot price and mindful of the huge cost to capital of shutting down major smelters — kept churning out the metal.

Stock and finance

Seeing an opportunity, traders and banks piled into the market.

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Global copper mine production increased by 3.3% through the first eight months of the year, the International Copper Study Group reported today.

Meanwhile, copper prices have stabilized somewhat this month after plunging in late October.

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Copper mine production

Global copper concentrate production increased by 5% during the period, the ICSG reported. Furthermore, solvent extraction-electrowinning declined by 4%.

Chile, the world’s top copper producer, saw its output fall 1% during the eight-month period.

Meanwhile, Peru, the second-largest copper producer, saw its output rise by 10% year over year. However, compared with 2019, Peru’s output declined by 8%.

Elsewhere, U.S. output declined by 0.9%, while Indonesian output increased by 57%.

Refined output increases 2.1%

Refined output during the period jumped by 2.1%, the ICSG reported.

China, the top consumer of copper, posted a jump of 5.8% in refined copper production. Refined copper output in Chile declined by 5%.

U.S. refined copper output increased by 11.5%, mainly due to “operational issues” in 2020.

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This morning in metals news: Nucor Corporation announced it is adding a blast and plate line at its under-construction Kentucky plate mill; aluminum prices have stabilized somewhat after plunging in late October and early November; and, lastly, job openings rates decreased in 12 states in November.

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.

Nucor adds line at Kentucky plate mill

Nucor logo

Postmodern Studio/Adobe Stock

Nucor announced late last week that it is adding a blast and prime line at its plate mill in Brandenburg, Kentucky. The mill is currently under construction.

The line will have an annual capacity of approximately 120,000 tons.

“By adding a blast and prime line to our state-of-the-art plate mill, we will be able to better serve customers in key markets, including our Nation’s military, infrastructure, heavy equipment, offshore wind and other energy products,” said Johnny Jacobs, vice president and general manager of Nucor Steel Brandenburg.

Nucor is investing $1.7 billion in the Brandenburg mill.

Aluminum prices stabilize

Aluminum prices plunged in late October and early November, falling from a peak of around $3,200 per metric ton to as low as $2,500 per metric ton, according to MetalMiner Insights data.

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