Articles in Category: Non-ferrous Metals

The Copper Monthly Metals Index (MMI) increased by 7.8% for this month’s reading, as the copper price remains high but dipped below the $10,000/mt level.

June 2021 Copper MMI chart

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Copper prices retrace

On May 10, the LME three-month copper price closed at $10,720 per metric ton, hitting record highs last month.

Since then, prices declined below $10,000/mt.

SHFE prices followed the same trend.

The price retrace might be due partially to the stern warnings issued by Beijing about market discipline and excessive speculation in an effort to cool off prices.

Moreover, on June 7, trade data from China showed that copper imports fell 8% in May compared to the previous month. This might have scared some investors, as lower imports could mean lower demand, which decreases buying interest.

This could also signal that the pace of economic growth might be slowing. Along with less market speculation, that could mean the price will correct and consolidate.

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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, including steel sector news, the Biden administration’s release of a 250-page supply chain report and much more:

steelmaking in an EAF

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Week of June 7-11 (steel sector news, Biden administration’s supply chain review and more)

Each month, MetalMiner hosts a webinar on a specific metals topic. Explore the upcoming webinars and sign up for each on the MetalMiner Events page.

China’s steel and aluminum market is undergoing a quiet revolution.

It’s not a revolution of investment or innovation.

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Peak aluminum, steel in China?

China aluminum

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According to Reuters, Beijing’s target of peak coal use by 2030 is asserting a dampening effect on new steel mill and aluminum smelter investment.

As such, the country could be at or near peak production. As Reuters’ Andy Home notes, the country’s rising output over the years as had a dampening effect on prices. That trend has led some Western producers to cease operations.

But a combination of harsher environmental legislation resulting in Beijing dissuading investment in new coal fired power projects, combined with Western markets’ meaningful action — after years of simply complaining — to block out Chinese exports of aluminum and steel products suggests the Chinese impetus to build capacity and the rest of the world’s willingness to buy product are both going through a transformational change.

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The Atlanta-based aluminum firm Novelis announced it is partnering with China’s leading universities to conduct research into the innovative use of aluminum.

The partnership between Novelis’ Shanghai Customer Solution Center (CSC) and the Tsinghua University Suzhou Automotive Research Institute (TSARI), confirmed by way of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) will drive research and development of aluminum products to promote a “low carbon, sustainable future.”

Novelis is a subsidiary of India’s Hindalco Industries Ltd. The company accounts for almost half of Hindalco’s consolidated revenue.

Furthermore, with operations in 10 countries, Novelis is one of the largest aluminum recyclers in the world. It reported U.S. $11.2 billion in net sales for the most recent fiscal year.

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 in China

aluminum sheet

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However, Novelis already has a significant presence in China.

Back in May, for example, the aluminum major announced that it would supply Nissan with a sustainable, lightweight aluminum body sheet for the all-new Qashqai SUV and create a closed-loop recycling system in Europe.

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The Aluminum Monthly Metals Index (MMI) increased by 0.9% this month, as aluminum prices reached a nine-year high during the first half of the month but later declined. 

June 2021 Aluminum MMI chart

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

Aluminum prices

The LME aluminum price reached a nine-year high May 10 when it reached $2,565/mt. 

Since then, prices dropped below the $2,500/mt mark, averaging $2,434/mt throughout May.

Chinese prices behaved similarly to the LME. They reached a peak of CNY 20,030/mt on May 10 but have declined since then. 

EPI study claims tariffs incentivized US domestic production

On May 25, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) published a white paper that argues the domestic aluminum producing and consuming industries have thrived as a result of the Section 232 tariff that former President Donald Trump implemented in March 2018. 

As MetalMiner reported last week, the EPI report argues the 10% duty has led to job growth in the sector and increased production.

The paper concluded that U.S. production of primary aluminum, including both alumina refining and secondary smelting and alloying of aluminum, increased by 37.6% to 1.14 million metric tons annually from March 2018 to February 2020. This increase came from the restart or production increase of five of the six smelters in the U.S. 

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This morning in metals news: Nucor Corporation today announced it will acquire Cornerstone Building Brands‘ insulated metal panels business; the oil price approached $70 per barrel to close last week; and the aluminum price has retraced over the last month.

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Nucor to acquire insulated metal panels business

mergers and acquisitions

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Nucor announced today that it plans to acquire the insulated metal panels business of Cornerstone Building Brands.

The acquisition comes at a cash purchase price of $1 billion. Nucor said it expects the transaction to close later this year, pending regulatory approvals.

“Today’s announcement accelerates our vision to broaden value-added solutions that Nucor provides to our targeted end markets. Additionally, it enhances our strong financial position with attractive free cash flow conversion rates and accretive EBITDA margins,” Nucor President and CEO Leon Topalian said. “We are excited about this opportunity to acquire a historical leader and innovator in the quickly growing IMP product category serving the non-residential market.”

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Before we head into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the week that was and the metals news here on MetalMiner, including iron ore volatility, rare earths production quotas in China and much more:

bulk cargo iron ore

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Week of May 31-June 4 (iron ore volatility, rare earths quotas and more)

Each month, MetalMiner hosts a webinar on a specific metals topic. Explore the upcoming webinars and sign up for each on the MetalMiner Events page.

This morning in metals news: US nonfarm payroll employment rose by 559,000 in May; the EU plans to impose carbon emissions costs on imports of steel, cement and electricity, Reuters reported; and the LME copper price dropped below $10,000 per metric ton.

Each month, MetalMiner hosts a webinar on a specific metals topic. Explore the upcoming webinars and sign up for each on the MetalMiner Events page.

Nonfarm payroll employment rises in May

nonfarm payrolls

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Nonfarm payroll employment in the US increased by 559,000 in May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate declined by 0.3 percentage point to 5.8%.

“Notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, in public and private education, and in health care and social assistance,” the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

EU to slap carbon emissions costs on imports

The European Union will introduce new carbon emissions costs on imports of steel, cement and electricity, Reuters reported.

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This morning in metals news: the US steel capacity utilization rate reached 81.5% last week; meanwhile, miner Glencore announced a new liquefied natural gas supply agreement; and, lastly, G7 trade ministers issued a joint communiqué covering market and trade distortions by state enterprises.

Each month, MetalMiner hosts a webinar on a specific metals topic. Explore the upcoming webinars and sign up for each on the MetalMiner Events page.

US steel capacity utilization rate rises to 81.5%

steelmaking in an EAF

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US steel capacity utilization for the week ending May 29 reached 81.5%, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported.

Output during the week reached 1,836,000 net tons, AISI reported, up 50.1% year over year. In the previous week, the capacity utilization rate settled at 79.0%.

Meanwhile, the output total marked an increase of 2.4% from the previous week.

For the year to date, production reached 35,913,000 net tons. The capacity utilization rate for the period checked in at 78.1%. Year-to-date output is up 9.5% from the same period in 2020, when the capacity utilization rate reached 69.9%.

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Peru on a map

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You have to feel for poor Peru, the second-largest copper producer in the world.

The country is facing the double affliction of the worst COVID-related death rate per head of population anywhere in the world.

At the same time, it is enduring a presidential election between two almost equally obnoxious candidates.

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Peru faces pandemic hardship

Firstly, the pandemic. According to the Financial Times, on Monday the government revised its figures, saying 180,764 people had died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

That number is nearly three times the total of 69,342 that it had previously registered.

The new figure means that one in every 177 people in the nation of 32 million people has died from the virus. That amounts to a rate of about 565 deaths for every 100,000 inhabitants — worse even than Brazil’s 509.

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