Articles in Category: Non-ferrous Metals
aluminum price

Grispb/Adobe Stock

This morning in metals news:

  • The aluminum price retraced this week
  • General Iron is building a new metal shredding home in Chicago
  • Finally, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported estimates on undiscovered Gulf Coast Basin oil reserves

The MetalMiner 2021 Annual Outlook consolidates our 12-month view and provides buying organizations with a complete understanding of the fundamental factors driving prices and a detailed forecast that can be used when sourcing metals for 2021 — including expected average prices, support and resistance levels.

Aluminum price falls below $1,800/mt

The LME aluminum price closed Thursday at $1,795 per metric ton.

The price reached a 2020 high earlier in October, touching just over $1,863 per metric ton.

Meanwhile, the LME three-month price reached a 2020 low in early April, reaching around $1,460 per metric ton.

General Iron begins construction on new Chicago home

General Iron has started construction on its new metal shredding home in Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Read more

Destina/Adobe Stock

This morning in metals news: Reuters reported Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden could revisit the status of the U.S.’s tariffs on China imposed by President Donald Trump; miner Fortescue released its quarterly production report; and tin prices have retraced over the last week.

The MetalMiner 2021 Annual Outlook consolidates our 12-month view and provides buying organizations with a complete understanding of the fundamental factors driving prices and a detailed forecast that can be used when sourcing metals for 2021 — including expected average prices, support and resistance levels.

Could Joe Biden reconsider tariffs on China if he becomes president?

Per a Reuters report, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden would consult with U.S. allies before deciding on what to do vis-a-vis the tariffs the Trump administration has imposed over the last few years.

Between July 2018 and August 2019, the U.S. announced plans to impose tariffs on more than $550 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Fortescue releases quarterly production report

Australian iron ore miner Fortescue released its quarterly production report, reporting iron ore shipments of 44.3 million tonnes during the quarter ended Sept. 30.

The total marked a 5% increase from shipments posted during the same quarter in 2019.

Read more

Aerospace may be down, automotive is coming back, albeit going through immense change from internal combustion engine (ICE) to electric vehicles (EVs), but one sector of the aluminum market that is brewing up a storm is the aluminum can market.

Are you prepared for your annual aluminum contract negotiations? Be sure to check out our five best practices. 

Aluminum can market tightens amid pandemic

The media has been awash with reports for months now that the aluminum can market is really tight. As lockdowns hit this year and bars either closed or saw falling attendance, consumers switched to supermarkets and liquor stores for their soft and beer beverages.

Beer and soda sales have held up well and are actually increasing for some. But where brewers and drinks producers sold volume through hospitality outlets and delivered in kegs, they now have to meet demand in six-packs from supermarket shelves.

The switch to aluminum cans has been unprecedented. “For the most part, the North American can industry is sold out for the next 24-36 months, and we don’t see the supply chain catching up to real demand until 2025-26,” Credit Suisse said in a recent report.

According to SPGlobal, U.S. producer shipments of aluminum can stock for the domestic market in the second quarter rose 5.5% year over year to 912.5 million pounds. Meanwhile, in the first quarter, Aluminum Association data show U.S. imports of aluminum can sheet reached 118.18 million pounds. That figure compares with 71.59 million pounds in Q1 2019 — a 65% jump.

And therein lies the problem.

Read more

copper mine

vadiml/Adobe Stock

Global copper mine production fell 0.8% during the first seven months of 2020, the International Copper Study Group (ICSG) reported.

Furthermore, the global copper market posted an apparent deficit of 255,000 metric tons during the period.

Do you know the five best practices of sourcing metals, including copper?

Copper mine production slips

Although copper mine production has recovered as the year has progressed, output through the first seven months of the year fell 0.8%.

Peru, the world’s second-largest copper producer, saw significant pandemic-related impacts on its copper operations earlier in the year. The country’s copper mine output fell 18% during the first seven months of the year. In the April-May period, Peru’s copper output fell 38% on a year-over-year basis.

However, activity has picked up since then. Peru’s copper mine output fell by only 2.2% year over year in July.

Meanwhile, Peru’s southerly neighbor, Chile — the world’s top copper producer — saw its output rise 1.5% in the first seven months.

Copper mine production down but refined copper output rises 1%

Aside from copper mine production, output on the refined copper side rose by 1% during the first seven months of the year, the ICSG noted.

Chile’s total refined output, for example, jumped 10%. Refined production in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Zambia rose by 6% and 9%, respectively.

Copper price gains

It’s no secret that the copper price has been one of the fastest risers among the base metals this year.

Recently, MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns weighed in on the copper price rise and, moreover, its sustainability.

“Is copper’s rise overdone?” Burns asked.

“In reality, no, probably not.

“Lockdowns outside of China have impacted copper demand in the rest of the world. Vaccine or not, the world will have to come to terms with the pandemic; demand will come back.”

The ICSG noted the average LME copper cash price in September marked a 3.3% increase from the previous month. The average price in September stood at $6,712 per metric ton.

Strike averted at Escondida

One factor previously hanging in the balance with the potential to impact copper mine production was the labor situation at the Escondida mine, the world’s largest copper deposit.

With a strike potentially brewing, a work stoppage — as occurred in Q1 2017 and lasted for six weeks — the copper price could have received significant upward support.

However, Reuters reported last week that union supervisors at the mine had struck a deal, thus averting a labor stoppage. The mine is majority-owned by BHP (57.5%).

According to BHP’s latest quarterly production report, copper production from the Escondida mine during the quarter ended Sept. 30 totaled 285 kt. The total marked a decline of 3% from the previous quarter and on a year-over-year basis.

BHP’s guidance for Escondida’s production in fiscal year 2021 is 940-1,030 kt. Output from the mine reached 1.19 million tons in fiscal year 2020, up 4% from the previous year.

Stop obsessing about the actual forecasted copper price. It’s more important to spot the trend. See why.

mining

Sunshine Seeds/Adobe Stock

This morning in metals news: miner Vale released its Q3 2020 production results; the Can Manufacturers Institute announced it will release grants in 2021 for aluminum can capture equipment; and, finally, U.S. crude oil inventories remain elevated.

Sign up today for Gunpowder, MetalMiner’s free, biweekly e-newsletter featuring news, analysis and more.

Vale iron ore output surges

Brazilian miner Vale’s iron ore output reached 88.7 million tons in Q3 2020, up 31.2% from the previous quarter.

Pellet production reached 8.6 million tons, up 21.1%, powered by higher availability from the Itabira Complex and elsewhere.

Copper production reached 87,600 tons, up from 84,500 tons in Q2. Nickel production, however, fell to 47,100 tons from 59,400 tons.

Grants for aluminum can recapture technology

Amid an ongoing shortage of aluminum cans that has impacted beverage makers, the Can Manufacturers Institute recently announced it will provide grants next year toward aluminum can capture technology.

“With this new grant program, the aluminum beverage can industry is demonstrating its commitment to building on the industry’s leading beverage packaging recycling rates,” said Scott Breen, vice president of sustainability for the Can Manufacturers Institute. “Capturing these missorted cans will result in significant additional revenue for recyclers and deliver significant carbon emissions reductions from greater use of recycled aluminum.”

Oil inventories 9% above five-year average

Finally, according to the Energy Information Administration’s latest weekly petroleum report, U.S. crude oil inventories for the week ended Oct. 23 totaled 492.4 million barrels.

The inventory total is up 9% compared with the five-year average for this time of year, according to the EIA.

As for imports, the U.S. imported an average of 5.7 million barrels per day over the last four weeks. Furthermore, the daily import average marked a 13.1% decline from the daily average during the same stretch in 2019.

The MetalMiner 2021 Annual Outlook consolidates our 12-month view and provides buying organizations with a complete understanding of the fundamental factors driving prices and a detailed forecast that can be used when sourcing metals for 2021 — including expected average prices, support and resistance levels.

electric arc furnace

Scanrail/Adobe Stock

This morning in metals news: U.S. Steel on Monday announced the startup of a new electric arc furnace (EAF) in Fairfield, Alabama; WTI crude dipped below $39 per barrel; and the International Aluminum Institute released global alumina production data.

The MetalMiner 2021 Annual Outlook consolidates our 12-month view and provides buying organizations with a complete understanding of the fundamental factors driving prices and a detailed forecast that can be used when sourcing metals for 2021 — including expected average prices, support and resistance levels.

U.S. Steel announces new EAF in Alabama

First up today, U.S. Steel this week announced the successful startup of a new EAF in Fairfield, Alabama.

“The EAF significantly enhances our ability to deliver customer-centric solutions and results,” U.S. Steel President and CEO David Burritt said. “We made a commitment to add electric arc steelmaking to our operating footprint as part of our ‘Best of Both’ strategy. This successful start-up delivers on that promise, and I am very pleased with the way our people safely accomplished this while navigating the disruptive influences of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In addition, the EAF will have an annual steelmaking capacity of 1.6 million tons, U.S. Steel said.

WTI crude below $39 per barrel

Next up, as readers of our Annual Outlook report know, oil prices are one of three macroeconomic price drivers MetalMiner tracks vis-a-vis commodity markets.

Read more

Airbus plane

dade72/Adobe Stock

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, including the AirbusBoeing subsidy saga, industrial production, Liberty Steel’s bid for German firm Thyssenkrupp’s steel division and much more.

The MetalMiner 2021 Annual Outlook consolidates our 12-month view and provides buying organizations with a complete understanding of the fundamental factors driving prices and a detailed forecast that can be used when sourcing metals for 2021 — including expected average prices, support and resistance levels.

Week of Oct. 19-23 (Airbus-Boeing saga, industrial production and more)

Want MetalMiner directly in your inbox? Sign up for weekly updates today.

The copper price breached $7,000 per ton this week, reaching $7,034 per ton on the LME — the highest level since June 2018.

What does this tell us? Is demand robust and supply constrained?

The MetalMiner 2021 Annual Outlook consolidates our 12-month view and provides buying organizations with a complete understanding of the fundamental factors driving prices and a detailed forecast that can be used when sourcing metals for 2021 — including expected average prices, support and resistance levels.

China’s recovery boosts copper price

Well, the world’s largest consumer, China, is certainly back to positive GDP growth. Its recovery from the pandemic lockdowns has been rapid and ahead of the rest of the world.  The country’s early application of infrastructure investment aided the recovery, which in turn boosted demand.

Higher refined metal imports support the impression China is on a 2009-2010 type stimulus led ramp-up in demand.

The reality is it will be much more highly nuanced this time, but a good story takes some discounting.

Supply side struggles

On the supply side, the pandemic has disrupted production in major copper-producing countries, like Chile.

Antofagasta advised this week their third-quarter production would be down 4.6%, according to the Financial Times.

The miner is not alone.

BHP, Glencore and Anglo American are also facing the same supply market risks. The whole Chilean market faces the risk of higher taxes and tighter water controls if Chile’s proposed re-writing of the constitution goes through.

An obvious marker driving copper price support is inventory levels. However, MetalMiner research has shown inventory and price have a very poor correlation on anything other than a short-term basis. Copper’s increased refined imports this year have in part gone to the restocking of China’s copper stocks rather than actual demand.

The Financial Times reports China has stockpiled 800,00 tons this year. At the same time, falling LME stocks are cited as evidence of metal shortage. However, what we are really seeing is a repositioning of inventory from outside China to inside China.

Is that demand or just speculative build?

Read more

Aluminum production

Alexander Chudaev/Adobe Stock

This morning in metals news: the International Aluminum Institute released global aluminum production totals for September; the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) made duty determinations in the investigations related to imports of prestressed concrete steel wire strand; and September unemployment rates fell in 30 states.

The MetalMiner 2021 Annual Outlook consolidates our 12-month view and provides buying organizations with a complete understanding of the fundamental factors driving prices and a detailed forecast that can be used when sourcing metals for 2021 — including expected average prices, support and resistance levels.

Global aluminum production hits 5.42M tons in September

Global aluminum production reached 5.42 million tons in September, the International Aluminum Institute reported.

The total marked a decline from 5.52 million tons in August.

Chinese production totaled an estimated 3.15 million tons last month, down from 3.18 million tons the previous month.

USITC opts to maintain steel wire strand duties

In a five-year sunset review, the USITC voted to maintain existing duties covering imports of prestressed concrete steel wire strand.

The duties cover imports of the products from Brazil, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Thailand.

“The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) today determined that revoking the existing antidumping and countervailing duty orders on imports of prestressed concrete steel wire strand from Brazil, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, and Thailand would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of material injury within a reasonably foreseeable time,” the USITC said in a prepared statement.

Read more

copper smelter

Bombardho/Adobe Stock

This morning in metals news: LME copper gained Monday while SHFE copper retraced; the Pilbara Ports Authority recently released September shipping figures; and top copper producer Chile marks the one-year anniversary of widespread protests.

The MetalMiner 2021 Annual Outlook consolidates our 12-month view and provides buying organizations with a complete understanding of the fundamental factors driving prices and a detailed forecast that can be used when sourcing metals for 2021 — including expected average prices, support and resistance levels.

SHFE copper price slips

The SHFE copper price fell 0.4% on Monday, Kitco reported, down to CNY 51,280 ($7,653.16) per tonne.

Meanwhile, LME copper ticked up 0.2% to $6,753 per tonne.

PPA releases shipping data

Australia’s Pilbara Ports Authority recently reported it delivered a monthly throughput of 61.3 million tonnes in September 2020.

The September throughput marked a 8% year-over-year increase.

Meanwhile, at the critical iron ore terminal of the Port of Port Hedland, monthly throughput reached 46.1 million tonnes. Furthermore, of that total, iron ore exports accounted for 45.6 million tonnes. The monthly throughput from Port Hedland marked a 9% year-over-year increase.

Chile marks anniversary of October 2019 protests

Lastly, Reuters reported thousands gathered in the capital city of Santiago, Chile, to commemorate the one-year anniversary of protests in the country.

The protests last year led to over 30 deaths and thousands of injuries, Reuters reported.

Chile is the world’s No. 1 copper producer. Copper market watchers will want to keep an eye on developments in the country and monitor any potential supply disruptions.

Stay up to date on MetalMiner with weekly updates – without the sales pitch. Sign up now.