Articles in Category: Public Policy

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

Gary Whitton/Adobe Stock

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

All the metals intelligence you need in one user-friendly platform with unlimited usage — request a MetalMiner Insights platform demo.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is undertaking a huge, and potentially significant, experiment,  Reuters reported recently.

The effort aims to clean up the DRC’s appalling reputational image as a supplier tainted with all manner of human rights abuses and lack of supply chain transparency. Reuters reports the state, in the guise of a new enterprise called the Enterprise Generale du Cobalt (EGC), aims to assume total control of the artisanal cobalt mining sector. That includes monopoly rights to buy all production.

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

Congo and the artisanal cobalt mining sector

map of Africa with Democratic Republic of the Congo highlighted

michal812/Adobe Stock

The government is working with PACT, a non-governmental organization that works globally to improve the lot of artisanal miners (among other underrepresented communities and minorities).

The model has been piloted at the Mutoshi mine. With PACT’s assistance, some 5,000 artisanal miners have been integrated into a formal structure.

Creating a sustainable and transparent supply chain would certainly remove a barrier to the DRC’s acceptability as a long-term supply source for the world’s major corporations. Ethics of supply chain sustainability is becoming an increasingly critical issue.

There are reputable cobalt suppliers from the DRC, of course.

Read more

This morning in metals news: consultancy GlobalData forecast copper production from the top 10 copper mining companies will rise by up to 3.8% this year; meanwhile, the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs advanced a bill that aims to strengthen Buy American requirements; and, lastly, US import prices rose in April.

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

GlobalData: copper production from top 10 companies to rise by up to 3.8% in 2021

copper mine

Gary Whitton/Adobe Stock

Amid a run of record copper prices, increased copper production this year could take some of the steam out of the market.

According to London-based consultancy GlobalData, copper production from the top 10 copper mining companies in the world could rise by up to 3.8% this year.

Meanwhile, output from the 10 companies — which includes Glencore, Antofagasta, BHP and Freeport-McMoRan — fell by 0.2% in 2021, GlobalData reported Thursday.

Read more

The Rare Earths Monthly Metals Index (MMI) fell by 9.8% for this month’s reading.

May 2021 Rare Earths MMI chart

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

Biden’s DOE awards $19M in funding for rare earths, critical minerals production initiatives

As MetalMiner contributor Sohrab Darabshaw explained this week, the Department of Energy has awarded $19 million toward 13 initiatives geared toward rare earths and critical minerals production.

“The very same fossil fuel communities that have powered our nation for decades can be at the forefront of the clean energy economy by producing the critical minerals needed to build electric vehicles, wind turbines, and so much more,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said. “By building clean energy products here at home, we’re securing the supply chain for the innovative solutions needed to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 – all while creating good-paying jobs in all parts of America.”

The DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) will manage the 13 projects.

The projects cover 12 areas of interest. They correspond to “selected U.S. basins that have the potential to produce rare earth elements and critical minerals.”

The project leaders include Pennsylvania State University, Virginia Polytechnic and State University, the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and the University of North Dakota, among others.

Electrification and cobalt

Earlier this month, MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns delved into the shift toward electrification in the automotive market.

Namely, he zoomed in on rising EV demand’s impact on materials prices — particularly for critical battery metals, like cobalt. Cobalt prices, like many other metals, surged in Q1 2021.

Read more

rare earths

metamorworks/Adobe Stock

The Biden administration taken another step to ease China’s current stranglehold on the rare earth element (REE) sector.

These elements are a crucial ingredient in the manufacture of products for both civilians and the defense sector. Rare earths make their way into smartphones, computer hard drives, medical imaging equipment, electric vehicles, and missiles, aircraft guidance and control systems, radars, 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.

DOE awards $19M toward rare earths, critical minerals production

The US Department of Energy (DOE) recently earmarked US $19 million to fund 13 projects to produce REEs and critical minerals.

Sen. Mitt Romney cited China’s “near monopoly” on the sector and his state’s role in the US’s attempts to boost its own production.

“With this funding, Utah will continue to play a vital role in United States’ production of rare earth metals and critical minerals, which will help rebuild our supply chain and decrease our dependence on China,” Romney said.

Furthermore, China produces almost 70% of the world’s total supply of rare earth metals.

Those who will receive the funding include: Pennsylvania State University; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; Collaborative Composite Solutions; and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

Read more

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 rising global crude steel production, automotive sector developments and much more:

You want more MetalMiner on your terms. Sign up for weekly email updates.

steelmaking in an EAF

nikitos77/Adobe Stock

Week of April 26-30 (global steel production, oil prices 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.

Brussels must feel a little like the Dutch boy with his finger in the dike when it comes to emissions.

No sooner do you create a solution to one problem – costing carbon dioxide emissions – than you create another – putting your domestic industries at a global disadvantage.

The Financial Times reported on calls by European industrial groups for the EU to introduce a carbon border tax. Rapidly rising prices for CO2 allowances raise the cost for the most-polluting industries far above any other region.

We’re offering timely emails with exclusive analyst commentary and some best practice advice. Sign up here.

EU’s Emissions Trading System aims to encourage reduction in emissions

emissions

fotohansel/Adobe Stock

According to the Financial Times, carbon prices in the EU’s flagship Emissions Trading System (ETS), a cornerstone of the bloc’s ambitious new target to slash emissions 55% by 2030, are within touching distance of €50 a metric ton. That’s more than double their pre-pandemic level.

The ETS is intended to encourage investment in technologies that reduce carbon emissions by placing a financial burden on producers who simply maintain their existing level of emissions. The EU grants allowances to polluters and allows them to trade them in order to allow a commercial price to develop – if you like letting the market decide what the balance is between paying to pollute and investing more to avoid the cost and pollute less.

The problem appears to be that anticipation among traders and commercial buyers is supplies will tighten as the available allowances will shrink over time.

The result? Rising prices for those allowances left, piling pressure on the most polluting firms.

Competition fears

Rises this year have prompted Tata Steel to place a €12 ($14.40) per metric ton surcharge on its European steel. The fear is further increases will make European producers increasingly less competitive against imports from countries with no such taxation system.

The post reports estimates made by steel producers that the EU carbon price is now costing them approximately $95 ($114) per metric ton of steel produced. (The production of one ton, on average, emits two tons of CO2 the post suggests.

That equates to almost 10% of the current steel price near €1,000 ($1,200) a metric ton.

Producers go on to suggest the estimated annual hit to the EU steel sector from having to buy carbon allowances from the market could hit €3 billion this year. Steel producers would have to pay to buy shortfalls in their allowances from the open market.

Pressure builds

The EU was due to unveil proposals for a carbon adjustment border tax in June. However, its implementation is not likely before 2023, at the earliest. Now, pressure is building to move up implementation to later this year.

The proposed border tax mechanism is initially set to target limited goods. Those include steel, cement, power generation and some chemicals. The mechanism will target goods imported from non-EU countries that do not have equivalent carbon pricing or emissions targets.

Ultimately, though, it could be extended to any carbon-intensive product. That includes other metals, like aluminum, zinc and ferro alloys (like FeMn and FeCr).

Distorted market

Letting the market decide the cost of polluting has merit. Price discovery in that way is likely to be more efficient than government-mandated prices.

However, the problem is the EU controls the provision of the allowances, making it a rigged market. It’s not an intentionally rigged market but one distorted by decisions made in Brussels on the size and allocation of allowances.

Steel suppliers selling into Europe and buyers from outside the bloc of components containing a significant steel content will therefore see the EU become less attractive in the run-up to the middle of the decade.

That is, unless or until similar carbon pricing policies are adopted elsewhere.

There is often a price to pay for being in the vanguard.

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

Before the weekend, let’s take a look at the week that was and the metals storylines here on MetalMiner, including an aluminum smelter labor deal, copper prices, environmental policy developments and more:

Find more insight on MetalMiner’s LinkedIn.

Week of April 19-23 (aluminum labor deal, copper prices and more)

robot building automotive aluminum component

Pixel_B/Adobe Stock

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

Earth Day concept

Philip Steury/Adobe Stock

Today is Earth Day, whatever that means for you. For once, though, the politicians are not adding to greenhouse gas emissions by flying around the world first class or, worse, in private jets to talk shop.

Rather, they are gathering virtually.

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

Earth Day news

According to The New York Times, they will hear President Joe Biden commit the United States to cutting CO2 emissions nearly in half by the end of the decade.

It’s a target that would require Americans to transform the way they drive, heat their homes and manufacture goods, the post reports.

Although the time frame is longer, the new goal nearly doubles the pledge that the Obama administration made to cut emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. It also builds on the UK’s ambitious plans announced earlier this week.

Nathan Hultman, director of the Center for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland, described the 50% goal as attainable. However, it will require “pretty significant action across all sectors of the American economy.”

Autos and energy generation are tipped as two of the major industries to feel the impact of the new target, if supported by new legislation.

Read more

Unfortunately for all those who passionately support efforts by people like David Attenborough to force the world to confront climate change – regardless of where you stand on the issue on what is admittedly quite a wide platform – recent reports suggest we are now in the land of political signaling in environmental policy rather than earnest endeavor.

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

UK makes major environmental policy shift (on paper, at least)

environmental policy

CrazyCloud/Adobe Stock

As The Spectator reported yesterday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced that the government would enshrine in law the target of cutting the UK’s carbon emissions by 78% by 2035.

That’s 15 years earlier than originally planned.

Why today make Britain a world leader in tackling climate change? Largely, because it is a nice commitment to be announcing in the run-up to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow this year.

Ardent supporters of environmental issues, of course, welcome the news. However, it would require a lot of big lifestyle changes in terms of diet, transport and housing for the general public. Furthermore, left to government, it will cost both the state and individuals a lot of money.

Environmental policy in the US

Across the Atlantic, the Biden administration is in danger of going down the same road.

Read more

1 2 3 4 5 134