Articles in Category: Non-ferrous Metals


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This morning in metals news: Chile’s INE reported the country’s industrial production, including copper production, fell in February; meanwhile, US automotive sales fell in February; and, lastly, the United States International Trade Commission made duty rulings on imports of silicon metal.

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Chile industrial production falls in February

Chile’s National Statistics Institute (INE) reported the country’s Industrial Production Index fell 3.4% in February.

Furthermore, the Mining Production Index fell by 6.2%. The decline came largely as a result of a drop in copper extraction and processing in February, the INE reported.

US vehicle sales fell in February

US vehicle sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16.1 million units in February, according to US Bureau of Economic Analysis data.

The rate fell from 17.1 million units in January.

The February 2020 rate reached 17.2 million units before plunging to 11.8 million and 9.1 million units the next two months.

USITC rules on silicon metal

The USITC recently determined imports of silicon metal from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, and Iceland benefited from illegal subsidization and were sold in the US at less than fair value.

The Department of Commerce will issue a countervailing duty order on imports of the metal from Kazakhstan. In addition, it will impose an anti-dumping duty order on imports of the metal from Iceland and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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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This morning in metals news: workers went on strike at the Bradken plant in Atchison, Kansas, last week; Liberty Steel has asked for a massive government bailout in the UK; and, lastly, the copper price retraced last week.

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

Workers go on strike at Bradken plant

Workers at the Bradken steel manufacturing plant in Atchison, Kansas, went on strike last week, local news source KQ2 reported.

According to the report, 50-60 workers walked off the job and onto the picket line last week.

The plant uses electric arc AOD technology and has annual capacity of 36,500 tons, according to the company’s website. The plant produces: locomotive rail and transit components and assemblies; mining, construction, industrial and military castings; and general steel castings.

Liberty Steel asks for bailout

On the heels of its financial crisis after the collapse of Greensill Capital, Liberty Steel is looking to the UK government for a bailout.

The steelmaker is asking for a bailout package of £170 million, the BBC reported.

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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 coverage of the semiconductor shortage, the Midwest Premium and more.

A fire at a Japanese chip-making plant last week has slammed automotive operations. General Motors, Ford and many other automakers have announced idling of production as a result of the shortage.

Meanwhile, on the supply side, Intel announced plans to invest $20 billion to build two new Arizona plants. Furthermore, Intel said it aims to “serve the incredible global demand for semiconductor manufacturing.”

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 March 22-26 (semiconductor shortage, Midwest Premium and more)

semiconductor and automobile

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Three years have passed since former President Donald Trump imposed Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum.

The administration cited national security concerns when imposing the tariffs. In addition, it aimed to raise capacity utilization of the US steel and aluminum sectors. (For the week ending March 20, US mills reached a steel capacity utilization rate of 77.3%.)

steel tariff

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Some countries received exemptions and domestic buyers have been able to win exclusions, which have mitigated the strength of the tariffs.

Metals consumers have expressed their opposition to the tariffs. For example, the Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users (CAMMU) called for an end to the tariffs last year, citing the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, a recent review of the tariffs offered a more positive view.

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

EPI: Section 232 tariffs produced ‘near-immediate benefits’

According to a recent report this week by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the Section 232 tariffs offered “near-immediate benefits.”

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

aluminum ingot stacked for export

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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 to dramatically restrict supply options for consumers.

As a result, prices have moved up.

Are you on the hook for communicating the company’s aluminum performance to the executive team? See what should be in that report

US aluminum situation

The US is no better.

Semi-finished product prices are rising and lead times are extending. It is convenient to blame the recent decision to apply substantial anti-dumping duties on 18 countries supplying the US with flat rolled commercial aluminium. The move has severely distorted the supply market. A significant number of major supplying countries, including Germany, South Korea and Turkey, are shut out by the high tariffs.

However, the tariffs are not the only reason the market is tight.

As intended, the supply chain has now switched focus to domestic — or, at least, USMCA members’ North American mills. The result is lengthening lead times and price rises.

Some consumers have asked why the LME primary metal price hasn’t risen further in view of the tight market. The reality is what we are seeing is a distorted supply market, not a global primary metal shortage.

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copper mine

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Despite significant drops in output earlier in 2020 at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, global copper mine production last year came in unchanged compared with the previous year.

According to the International Copper Study Group, the global copper market posted an apparent deficit of 560,000 tons in 2020.

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

ICSG: copper mine production flat in 2020

Copper mine production around the world took a dive in the first half of 2020, as the pandemic disrupted operations and metals demand patterns. Mine output dropped by 3.5% year over year in April-May 2020.

However, the second-half recovery, paced by China, saw production break even for the year.

Peru, the second-largest producer, saw mine production fall 12.5% in 2020. Top producer Chile, meanwhile, saw its output drop just 1%.

Elsewhere, after the transition of two mines to different ore zones, Indonesian output rose by 39%.

“COVID-19 related constraints and other operational issues also resulted in declines in production in other major copper mine producing countries, most notably Australia, Mexico and the United States,” the ICSG added.

Refined production up 1.5%

However, refined copper production rose by 1.5% year over year in 2020.

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battery energy storage

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This morning in metals news: the Energy Information Administration forecasts a “significant number” of battery energy storage systems will come onto the US electricity grid; meanwhile, miner Rio Tinto announced a partnership with renewable energy technology company Heliogen; and, lastly, global copper mine production levels came in about flat compared with 2020.

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EIA forecasts increase in battery energy storage

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) today projected an increase in battery energy storage systems on the US power grid.

In its Annual Energy Outlook 2021, the EIA projected 59 GW of battery storage will serve the US power grid in 2050.

“Battery storage systems store electricity produced by generators or pulled directly from the grid, and they redistribute that electricity later,” the EIA noted. “They typically charge, or store, electricity during hours of the day with relatively high energy supply, low energy demand, and low power prices. The batteries are then available to discharge electricity during hours with low supply, high demand, high power prices, or when the grid needs backup capacity for reliability.”

Rio Tinto reaches agreement with Heliogen

Miner Rio Tinto announced it had reached an agreement with renewable energy technology company Heliogen.

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nickel price

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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 of the week here on MetalMiner, including coverage of the nickel price, oil prices, housing starts and more.

Overall, steel prices continue to rise. Meanwhile, after experiencing significant price declines, lead and nickel have steadied of late. Aluminum continues to be on an upward trajectory, while copper has steadied after dropping from a Feb. 25 peak.

The MetalMiner team will be presenting a commodity forecast for copper, aluminum, stainless and carbon steel on Wednesday, March 24, at 10 a.m. CDT:

Week of March 15-19 (nickel price steadies, Honda announces temporary production suspension and more)

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Honda sign

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This morning in metals news: Honda announced it will suspend most of its North American automotive production; copper has leveled off over the last couple of weeks; and service center shipments declined in February.

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

Honda to suspend most North American production

In major automotive news, Honda said it will suspend most of its production in North America for a week, Reuters reported.

Per the report, the automaker cited a variety of factors for the production stoppage. The issues included: supply chain problems related to congestion at ports, the semiconductor shortage and inclement weather in recent weeks.

Copper price trends sideways

The LME copper price took a fall in late February and into March.

LME three-month copper fell from a Feb. 25 peak of $9,563 per metric ton down to $8,757 per metric ton March 4.

Since then, however, the price has traded sideways. Three-month copper closed Thursday at $9,025 per metric ton.

Service center shipments down in February

According to the Metals Service Center Institute, service center shipments declined in February.

US steel shipments fell by 4.4% year over year. Meanwhile, aluminum shipments fell by 2.0% year over year.

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ArcelorMittal logo

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This morning in metals news: ArcelorMittal announced a series of low-carbon initiatives; meanwhile, US import prices increased in February; and, lastly, the aluminum price has picked up this week.

Are you on the hook for communicating the company’s steel performance to the executive team? See what should be in that report

ArcelorMittal unveils XCarb™ low-carbon initiatives

ArcelorMittal today announced a trio of new low-carbon initiatives under the umbrella of what it is calling XCarb™.

“XCarb™ will ultimately bring together all of ArcelorMittal’s reduced, low and zero-carbon products and steelmaking activities, as well as wider initiatives and green innovation projects, into a single effort focused on achieving demonstrable progress towards carbon neutral steel,” ArcelorMittal said.

The program will include green steel certificates for customers.

“Across our ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products operations, we are investing in a broad range of initiatives to reduce carbon emissions from the blast furnace,” ArcelorMittal said. These initiatives range from our flagship Smart Carbon projects, such as Torero (transforming biomass into bio-coal to replace the use of coal in the blast furnace) and Carbalyst (capturing carbon-rich blast furnace waste gas and converting it into bio-ethanol, which can then be used to make low-carbon chemical products) to capturing hydrogen-rich waste gases from the steelmaking process and injecting them into the blast furnace to reduce coal use.”

In addition, the program includes recycled and renewably produced “pioneering products.”

Lastly, XCarb™ will also include an innovation fund. ArcelorMittal says it will invest $100 million annually into the fund. The fund will go toward “groundbreaking companies developing pioneering or breakthrough technologies that will accelerate the steel industry’s transition to carbon neutral steelmaking.”

Import prices rise

In addition to today’s ArcelorMittal news, US import prices picked up 1.3% in February, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Import prices gained, in part, due to higher fuel prices.

Prices for import fuel rose 11.1% in February after rising 9.0% in January.

Aluminum price gains

The LME three-month aluminum price closed Tuesday at $2,201 per metric ton.

A week ago, LME three-month aluminum reached $2,169 per metric ton.

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