Articles in Category: Product Developments

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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green hydrogen

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Whether we agree with the rationale or not, the carbon footprint of everyday materials like steel and aluminum is becoming an increasingly important component of consumers’ purchasing decisions.

In the US, some states — like California — have mandated purchasing departments for state projects to report the carbon footprint or CO2 content of the products they buy. The move aims to measure and, if possible reduce, carbon content.

But in the US such moves are still patchy and largely state-led. Meanwhile, meaningful direction from the new Biden administration on the issue is still largely in development.

MetalMiner should-cost models: Give your organization levers to pull for more price transparency, from service centers, producers and part suppliers. Explore the models now.

Europe aims to reduce emissions

In Europe, the EU is coordinating moves to reduce greenhouse gas emission by the steel sector. The EU is providing funding for research and support in the form of infrastructure, such as hydrogen gas supply networks.

In a recent post, our ex-colleague Jeff Yoders wrote a fine piece on efforts by ArcelorMittal to commercialize reductions in the carbon content of an initially small proportion of its output — just 2% or 600,000 tons per annum — by issuing certificates, which certify the reduction in carbon footprint of their steel that can be used by customers who need to report the carbon content of their supply chain or those that face carbon taxes.

The vouchers allow buyers to show an offset of Scope 3 emissions, which can come from anything in a company’s value chain.

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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)

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gears featuring words reading sustainability, environment, society and economy

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This morning in metals news: U.S. Steel announced it will offer a new sustainable steel product line called verdeX™; meanwhile, Intel will invest $20 billion toward two new factories to serve the “incredible global demand for semiconductor manufacturing”; and, lastly, Century Aluminum announced a power contract in South Carolina for its Mt. Holly aluminum smelter.

Volatility is the name of the game. Do you have a steel buying strategy that can handle the ups and downs?

U.S. Steel unveils new sustainable steel

No matter the sector, sustainability is a concept that continues to gain traction — and not just from environmentally conscious individual consumers.

This week, during Ceres Conference 2021, U.S. Steel unveiled a new line of sustainable steel dubbed verdeX™.

“U. S. Steel is now capable of producing some of the most advanced high strength steels with only a quarter of the carbon dioxide emissions previously required,” the steelmaker said in a release. “The company is now partnering with customers to introduce U. S. Steel’s verdeX line of sustainable steel, so they can offer even more sustainable products to consumers.”

The steelmaker said it will release additional information about the sustainable steel line in the coming weeks.

Intel to invest in semiconductor manufacturing

The semiconductor shortage has led to the ringing of alarm bells around the world, particularly in the automotive sector.

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electric vehicle charging

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Most carmakers had a pretty torrid first half of 2020, with factories disrupted, show rooms closed and consumers bunkered down in their homes. Sales plummeted across Europe and North America.

However, the second half of last year and, particularly, the first quarter of this year have seen carmakers’ prospects come roaring back.

The MetalMiner team will present a commodity forecast for copper, aluminum, stainless and carbon steel on Wednesday, March 24, at 10 a.m. CDT https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_6J8wAyYySfihVk3ZUH9yMA.

The move to electric vehicles

Yet, the turmoil being experienced by the industry is much more about the stop-go of last year.

Rather than cause a retrenchment, the pandemic has helped accelerate the move to electrification.

The greatest spur, however, has undoubtedly been government legislation.

EU penalties on carmakers that fail to meet emission reduction targets are driving a mass migration from internal combustion engines (ICE) to hybrids and fully electric vehicles. After a slow start, European carmakers are adopting aggressive transition plans.

Volkswagen goes all in on electric vehicles

Just this past week, Volkswagen announced — to the joy of its shareholders, who piled in to push shares up 20% — that the German automaker aims to become the global leader in electric cars by 2025. The automaker is placing heavy bets on next-generation lithium-ion batteries, the Financial Times reported.

Volkswagen says it will sell 1 million electric or hybrid cars this year, a tenfold increase from 2019, with half being fully electric vehicles and the rest plug-in hybrids.

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ThyssenKrupp

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German steelmaker thyssenkrupp has won a contract to build an 88 megawatt (MW) water electrolysis plant for Canadian energy company Hydro-Québec, the firm announced Monday.

“This project is an excellent illustration of how important the interaction of secure access to competitive renewable energy and the use of scaled technology for hydrogen production is,” said Sami Pelkonen, CEO of thyssenkrupp’s chemical and process technologies business unit.

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Water electrolysis plant coming to Quebec

Per the thyssenkrupp announcement, the state-owned Hydro-Québec is one of the largest hydropower suppliers in North America.

The project is scheduled to be commissioned in late 2023, thyssenkrupp announced.

“The water electrolysis plant will be built in Varennes, Quebec, and is to produce 11,100 metric tons of green hydrogen annually,” the firm said in the Monday announcement. “Both the hydrogen and the oxygen, a by-product of the electrolysis process, will be used in a biofuel plant to produce biofuels from residual waste for the transportation sector.”

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London Metal Exchange

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Steel is the world’s second-largest commodity after crude oil. It is 15 times the size of all other metals markets combined in terms of metric tons. Furthermore, it is worth twice their value.

Yet, until recently, it was an industry that saw little use for a futures market. That is primarily because major steel participants enjoyed stable long-term prices for the materials they needed.

Price material volatility

Prices for iron ore and coking coal, two of the essential raw materials for steel production, have become far more volatile in recent years. That volatility has sent price shocks rippling through the supply chain. In turn, it has created volatility in finished steel prices that consumers are desperate to contain.

Enter the major futures exchanges. For over 200 years, the London Metal Exchange (LME) has provided the trade – producers, traders and consumers – the opportunity to hedge their risk across a growing range of base metals.

However, only recently have exchanges such as the LME, the U.S.’s CME and the Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE) in China introduced products allowing the trade to hedge raw material and finished steel price risk.

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

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steel arrow up

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This morning in metals news: U.S. steel capacity utilization reached 75.4% for the week ending Jan. 9; General Motors announced the launch of BrightDrop; and Rusal America announced a new line of aluminum additive manufacturing powders.

Volatility is the name of the game. Do you have a steel buying strategy that can handle the ups and downs?

Steel capacity utilization reaches 75.4%

The U.S. steel sector’s capacity utilization rate reached 75.4% for the week ending Jan. 9, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported.

The rate increased from 74.6% the previous week.

Production during the week ending Jan. 9 totaled 1.71 million net tons, up 3.6% from the previous week. However, output during the week declined 10.3% year over year.

General Motors launches new BrightDrop business

General Motors today announced the launch of a new business called BrightDrop, which it says will “offer an ecosystem of electric first-to-last-mile products, software and services to empower delivery and logistics companies to move goods more efficiently.”

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