Articles in Category: Product Developments

This morning in metals news: Nucor Corporation announced the launch of a line of net-zero carbon steel products; meanwhile, the American Iron and Steel Institute released September import permit application data; and, finally, average U.S. home mortgage rates continue to hover around 3%.

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Nucor announces new line of net-zero carbon steel

Nucor logo

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Nucor announced it is launching a new line of net-zero carbon steel products.

The steelmaker said General Motors will be the first recipient of the new Econiq™ line of net-zero carbon steel products.

“General Motors will receive the Econiq net-zero steel beginning in Q1 2022, and it is projected that all steel purchased by GM from Nucor will be net carbon neutral by the end of 2022,” Nucor said.

Steel import permit applications jump in September

U.S. steel permit import applications for September surged by 8.8% from August to September, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported.

September import permit application tonnage totaled 2.87 million net tons.

Furthermore, estimated finished steel import market share reached 22% in September, up from 20% for the year to date.

Home mortgage rates remain around 3%

U.S. mortgage rates dipped slightly this week, mortgage loan company Freddie Mac reported.

The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage this week dipped to 2.99%, down by 0.02 percentage point from the previous week. The 15-year rate fell to 2.23%.

“Mortgage rates continue to hover at around three percent again this week due to rising economic and financial market uncertainties,” Freddie Mac noted. “Unfortunately, with the expectation that both mortgage rates and home prices will continue to rise, competition remains high and housing affordability is declining.”

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This morning in metals news: U.S. steel capacity utilization dipped to 84.8% last week; meanwhile, General Motors signed a memorandum of understanding with GE Renewable Energy to develop a rare earths supply chain; and, lastly, the United States Trade Representative commented on potential targeted exclusions for the Section 301 tariffs on Chinese goods implemented during the Trump administration.

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US steel capacity utilization at 84.8%

steelmaking in an EAF

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U.S. steel capacity utilization fell to 84.8% for the week ending Oct. 2, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported.

The rate dipped from 85.2% the previous week. Meanwhile, steel output last week totaled 1.87 million net tons, AISI reported. The total marked a 0.4% decline from the previous week but a 21.6% year-over-year increase.

Production in the year to date reached 71.4 million net tons, up 20.3% year over year.

GM, GE Renewable Energy sign MoU

General Motors and GM Renewable Energy have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) through which they will work to develop a supply chain for rare earths and other materials needed for electric vehicles and renewable energy.

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This morning in metals news: pre-Labor Day retail gasoline prices are at their highest level in seven years; meanwhile, payroll employment rose by 235,000 in August; and, lastly, Norilsk Nickel has signed an agreement to build a liquefied natural gas icebreaker.

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Pre-Labor Day gasoline prices rise

gasoline pump

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To the chagrin of those driving this holiday weekend, pre-Labor Day gasoline prices have reached their highest level since 2014, the Energy Information Administration reported.

The average gas price reached $3.15 per gallon as of Aug. 30.

Furthermore, the price marked a 42% jump compared with the same point in 2020.

Payroll employment up 235K

U.S. payroll employment picked up by 235,000 in August, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Furthermore, monthly job growth so far this year has averaged 586,000 per month.

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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:

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Week of Aug. 16-20 (shipping sector disruptions, Chinese steel prices and more)

Shipping

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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.

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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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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 copper price developments, an upcoming MetalMiner webinar and more:

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

copper mine

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Week of May 17-21 (copper prices, MetalMiner webinar and more)

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This morning in metals news: several companies have collaborated on a solution that aims to allow for end-to-end cobalt traceability; meanwhile, the Associated General Contractors of America said rising materials prices threaten the economic recovery; and, lastly, the US, Canada and Mexico issued a trilateral statement on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

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

Companies collaborate on cobalt traceability solution

cobalt

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Several companies have collaborated to launch a pilot solution, dubbed ReISource, that will allow for “end-to-end cobalt traceability.”

A majority of the world’s cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ethical concerns regarding labor conditions for cobalt miners in the country (including allegations of the use of child labor) have prompted some companies to act in an effort to shine a light on the supply chain, from mine to end use.

Glencore is teaming up with CMOC, Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) and battery material supplier Umicore.

“Tested in real operating conditions, from upstream cobalt production facilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to downstream electric vehicle production sites, the pilot will run until the end of 2021, with the roll-out of the final solution expected in 2022,” Glencore said in a release.

Recently, MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns delved into the DRC government’s effort to clean up the artisanal mining sector (albeit with other motives, too).

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This morning in metals news: Alcoa announced its first quarter financial results; US housing starts surged in March; and General Motors and LG Energy Solution are building a second Ultium battery cell manufacturing plant in the US.

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

Alcoa releases first quarter financial results

earnings sign

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Alcoa released its first quarter financial results Thursday, in which it posted strong numbers boosted by higher aluminum and alumina prices.

The firm reported net income of $175 million in the first quarter of 2021. That compares with income of $80 million in Q1 2020. Meanwhile, Alcoa reported a net loss of $4 million in Q4 2020.

“We had an excellent first quarter with our best quarterly result since a record-setting year in 2018,” Alcoa President and CEO Roy Harvey said. “We excelled from the top line to the bottom line, controlling production costs and capturing the benefits of improved demand and stronger prices for alumina and aluminum.”

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lithium-ion battery

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A development at an Indian lithium-ion battery plant could begin to challenge China’s dominance of the graphite anode market.

A lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant in one of India’s southern provinces that came online recently will become the world’s first and only 100% backward-integrated facilities producing synthetic graphite (Syn-G) when fully operational.

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Lithium-ion battery components

Such high-grade graphite anode material is a key component in the lithium-ion battery, something China has monopolized the production of for a long time.

Epsilon Advanced Materials, the company behind the new plant, is a subsidiary of Epsilon Carbon. Epsilon Carbon is India’s leading coal carbon company that recently diversified into the battery material business. Specifically, it has moved to develop and manufacture high-performance carbon products for anode components for lithium-ion batteries. Industries in China currently produce over 80% of the world’s supply of these anodes.

Epsilon Carbon took over two years to develop a new, environmentally friendly process to produce the graphite anode material.

Managing Director Vikram Handa is the son-in-law of none other than steel tycoon and entrepreneur Sajjan Jindal, chairman and managing director of JSW Group of companies diversified in steel, mining, energy, sports, infrastructure and software business.

Handa set up Epsilon Advanced Materials Pvt — India’s first manufacturer of lithium-ion battery parts — in the southern state of Karnataka last August. He is sourcing the raw material from the largest steel mill in the country, owned by Jindal.

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This morning in metals news: Oslo-based Norsk Hydro said it is exploring the potential for developing and operating hydrogen facilities; meanwhile, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers increased by 0.6% in March; and En+ Group touted its development of a high-purity aluminum.

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

Norsk Hydro to look into possibility of developing hydrogen facilities

Norsk Hydro said it is looking into the possibility of developing and operating hydrogen facilities.

green hydrogen

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The firm said the facilities would serve both internal demand and the external market.

“We see a substantial potential for industrial hydrogen consumption,” said Hilde Merete Aasheim, president and CEO. “Taking a developer and operator role in the hydrogen sector represents an opportunity for Hydro to reduce industrial CO2 emissions and develop a profitable and sustainable business based on hydrogen.”

CPI ticks up in March

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the CPI for All Urban Consumers rose by 0.6% in March.

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