Industry News

MetalMiner, the leading metal market price intelligence brand and SaaS platform, providing forecasts, analysis and risk mitigation solutions for global manufacturers, has moved to newly incorporated Alpha Commodities, spinning out of parent company Azul Partners.

Supply chain disruptions, lack of material availability, high prices and rampant inflation have wreaked havoc for manufacturers and other industries. The MetalMiner (SM) Insights platform enables buying organizations to receive actionable procurement guidance and to develop category strategies with real-time price feeds, forecasts, prescriptive sourcing recommendations and should-cost models.

“We’re hearing increasing frustration amongst global manufacturers that highly volatile metals markets and supply chain disruptions have made managing margins nearly impossible,” said Don Hauser, vice president of business solutions and formerly a supply base manager at John Deere. “It has been extremely difficult to achieve budget and profitability targets.”

The MetalMiner Insights platform and related forecasting solutions, currently used by over 50 of the world’s largest OEMs and their supply chain partners, help buying organizations plan their purchases, according to Michael Struhar, senior sourcing manager at Milwaukee Tool Corp. “Personally, the most valuable piece in the Insights platform is the at-a-glance current price and forecast data that assists with forward planning and negotiations,” Struhar said. “It’s the best overall information data related to metal commodities.”

“We are very excited about the company’s growth trajectory and product road map,” said Lisa Reisman, CEO and founder of Alpha Commodities. “For the past six years, MetalMiner has achieved an unparalleled forecasting track record resulting in cost savings and real price risk mitigation for manufacturers. Our AI capability, correlation analysis, and predictive analytics provide the most comprehensive OEM metal price intelligence solution available today.”

The MetalMiner Insights platform provides both 30-day and longer-term price outlooks across a range of non-ferrous and ferrous metals. Built using a technical analysis methodology and AI, MetalMiner subscribers receive specific actionable buying insights to support strategic sourcing decision-making. The platform is available as an enterprise solution and also through a full API integration capability.

The MetalMiner forecasting and buying strategy track record can be accessed here for stainless steel, here for carbon steel and here for aluminum.

Media Contact:

Lisa Reisman

Tel 773.865.0387

About Alpha Commodities

Alpha Commodities, through its MetalMiner (™) brand, provides unique price data, short- and long-term forecasts with actionable buying strategies, and should-cost modeling. The company is a woman-owned business situated in Gary, Ind.

This morning in metals news: U.S. import prices gained in November; meanwhile, U.S. construction starts surged in November; and, lastly, the Energy Information Administration forecasts record monthly natural gas production in 2022.

Better time your metal market purchases with the MetalMiner Insights platform. Request a demo

Import prices rise 0.7%

cargo trains

Oleksiy Mark/Adobe Stock

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. import prices gained by 0.7% in November. The rise follows a 1.5% increase in October.

The index for U.S. imports rose by 11.7% over the last 12 months. Import fuel prices rose by 2.0% in November after a jump of 11.1% in October.

“Prices for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials advanced 2.0 percent in November, driven by higher prices for fuel, nonferrous metals, and chemicals,”

Construction starts jump in November

U.S. privately owned construction starts reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,679,000 in November.

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Importers of metals and metal components may be seeing a glimmer of light at the end of what has been a very long tunnel of logistics chaos, sky-high freight rates and shipping delays.

Freight rates have eased from peaks per 40ft container in the summer for some shippers of up to $15,000 to $9,000 last month. Rates have fallen further to around $7,000 today, as reported by the the Financial Times.

The number of vessels sitting off the ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach waiting to discharge have declined from 261 in September to 246 in October and 216 last month, the Financial Times reports.

Not a massive decline, but at least the trend appears in the right direction.

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Shipping rates down, but for how long?


enanuchit/Adobe Stock

Still, before we break out the Christmas champagne early, not all the news is quite so positive.

Rates have declined. However, this is in part a reflection of the fact that the peak Christmas traffic has now passed. Current shipments will not arrive until into the New Year. As such, the impetus to ship come what may is over.

Read more

Before we head into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the week that was and some of the metals coverage here on MetalMiner, including coverage of aluminum prices, a General Motors collaboration with MP Materials aimed at developed a fully integrated U.S. rare earth magnet supply chain and much more:

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

Week of Dec. 6-10 (aluminum prices, rare earth magnet supply chain and more)

aluminum price

Grispb/Adobe Stock

  • Nucor Corporation announced plans to build a rebar micro mill in the South Atlantic region. The company already has rebar micro mills in Missouri and Florida.
  • U.S. automotive sales remain depressed as a result of low inventory.
  • U.S. construction spending through the first 10 months of the year jumped 7.5% year over year, the Census Bureau reported.
  • The U.S. steel capacity utilization rate dipped to 81.9% last week, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported.
  • Aluminum prices trended sideways in November, MetalMiner analyst Nichole Bastin explained.
  • Energy prices are on the rise in Europe, putting the squeeze on both residential and industrial users.
  • Like aluminum prices, copper prices also consolidated in November after an October spike.
  • Bastin checked in on the stainless steel market, including nickel price volatility.
  • General Motors said it will invest $51 million toward equipment for its aluminum die casting foundry in Bedford, Indiana.
  • Stuart Burns also took a look at aluminum prices and China’s impact on the aluminum market.
  • China introduced a draft plan to reduce emissions from metals by 5% by 2025.
  • Lastly, in the rare earths space, General Motors announced a collaboration with MP Materials to develop a fully integrated supply chain for rare earth magnets. MP materials operates the Mountain Pass rare earths mine and processing facility in California.

Looking for metal price forecasting and data analysis in one easy-to-use platform? Inquire about MetalMiner Insights today. 

Chinese authorities recently presented a draft plan to reduce heavy metal emissions by 5% by 2025.

As noted previously here, the move comes after Beijing moved to stabilize surging coal prices. The government moved to increase both coal imports and domestic output.

The Dalian coking coal price surged to $694 per metric ton in late October. However, the key steelmaking input has plunged by approximately 33% since then. Coking coal this week week fell to $464 per metric ton.

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

China’s metals emissions plan

China map

Zerophoto/Adobe Stock

The government posted the plan on the Ministry of Ecology and Environment website, inviting the general people to comment.

The plans includes language indicating it will take efforts to eliminate obsolete and excess capacity in the heavy metals sector, Chinese tabloid the Global Times reported.

China will accelerate the transfer of professional electroplating companies to special industrial parks, the Global Times reported.

China is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. Much of China’s emissions come from coal-fired power generation.

In October, as we noted in previous reports and the Monthly Metal Outlook (MMO), Beijing moved to stabilize the coal market amid supply fears. As a result, China increased imports and ramped up domestic output.

Long road ahead on emissions

China’s State Council, however, seems a little skeptical about the new anti-pollution targets.

A report by news agency Reuters recently said in a report that China had a long road ahead on environmental protection.

The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that according to the State Council, while there had been some improvement in the country’s ecological situation since the launch of its anti-pollution campaign, it would be tough to tackle pollution and ensure that carbon emissions peaked in 2030. Furthermore, China has also pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

Data by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment show that China’s emissions of heavy metals in waste water decreased from 167.8 tons in 2016 to 120.7 tons in 2019. That marked a decline of 28%, the Global Times reported.

Some of the heavy metal pollutants on China’s control and prevention list include lead and mercury. Those are largely used by the electroplating industry, the chemical manufacturing industry and the leather tanning business.

Pollution problem

Environment pollution has been troubling China for a long time. A study by a USC-led team in 2020 illustrated the severity of the problem.

The team had found that emissions from coal-fired power plants in China were “fertilizing” the North Pacific Ocean with a metal nutrient important for marine life.

“This work shows fossil fuel burning has a side effect: the release of iron and metals into the atmosphere that carry thousands of miles and deposit in the ocean where they can impact marine ecosystems,” said Seth John, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of Earth sciences at USC Dornsife. “Certain metal deposits could help some marine life thrive while harming other life.”

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This morning in metals news: General Motors will invest $51 million to install equipment at its Bedford, Indiana aluminum casting die foundry; nickel prices have gained this past month; and, lastly, the U.K. trade minister reportedly told the U.S. they could consider expanding tariffs on U.S. goods if the U.S. does not remove the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Upcoming negotiation on your aluminum buy? Make sure you know how your service centers will negotiate with you

GM to invest in aluminum die casting foundry

General Motors headquarters in Detroit, Michigan

Katherine Welles/Adobe Stock

General Motors is investing $51 million to install new equipment at its aluminum die casting foundry in Bedford, Indiana.

The new equipment will support support the manufacture of “drive unit castings for the upcoming Chevrolet Silverado EV and other current casting applications.”

GM will unveil its all-electric Silverado at the CES trade show Jan. 5, 2022, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Nickel prices rise

Nickel prices have gained over the last month, according to MetalMiner Insights data.

Read more

This morning in metals news: a cold winter season will continue to put strain on European energy supplies; the U.S. international trade deficit declined from September to October; and, lastly, U.S. job openings increased in October.

Does your company have a zinc buying strategy based on current zinc price trends?

Energy prices under the microscope amid chilly weather in Europe

natural gas tap

PhotocreoBednarek/Adobe Stock

Europe is bracing for the winter season, which brings with it further strain on already strained energy supplies.

Storm Barra impacted Ireland and the United Kingdom on Tuesday, bombarding the islands with rain and snow.

According to ICE data, Dutch TTF gas futures for January 2022 picked up in November, rising from €67 per megawatt hour Nov. 1 to €96 per megawatt hour this week.

As we noted on the heels of the October price spike, rising energy costs impacted European zinc producers, like Nyrstar and Glencore. LME zinc jumped to $3,757 per metric ton in October but fell to around $3,200 to start November. Since then, the price has trended sideways but remains elevated, according to MetalMiner Insights data.

Russia is the largest supplier of natural gas supply to Europe; rising gas costs contributed to production cutbacks from the aforementioned zinc producers. On Nov. 22, the U.S. announced sanctions against two vessels and one Russia-linked entity related to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, President Joe Biden spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid rising tensions at the Russia-Ukraine border.

“President Biden voiced the deep concerns of the United States and our European Allies about Russia’s escalation of forces surrounding Ukraine and made clear that the U.S. and our Allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of military escalation,” the White House said in a release. “President Biden reiterated his support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and called for de-escalation and a return to diplomacy.”


Read more

This morning in metals news: steel capacity utilization fell to 81.9%; lead prices have lost ground this month; and, lastly, Liberty Steel announced the restart of its Georgetown, South Carolina plant.

During the last MetalMiner webinar of 2021, the MetalMiner team will take a look ahead and overview price predictions for 2022. To attend, sign up on the MetalMiner Events page

Steel capacity utilization rate falls to 81.9%

steel production

photollurg/Adobe Stock

The U.S. steel capacity utilization rate fell to 81.9% for the week ending Dec. 4, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported.

U.S. steel output during the week totaled 1.81 million net tons, or down 1.6% from the previous week. For the year to date, steel production totaled 88.08 million net tons, or up 19.6% year over year, at a capacity utilization rate of 81.6%.

U.S. steel prices began to backtrack in September after a year of uninterrupted rises.

Hot dipped galvanized closed last week at $2,131 per short ton, or down 3.8% month over month, according to MetalMiner Insights data.

Hot rolled coil closed last week at $1,770 per short ton, or down 6.1% month over month.

Lead prices retreat

Meanwhile, lead prices have lost ground so far this month.

Read more

This morning in metals news: Nucor Corporation announced plans to build a rebar micro mill; oil prices fell last week; and, lastly, tin prices have rallied.

Each month this year, MetalMiner has hosted a webinar on a specific metals topic. The final webinar of 2021 is this Wednesday, Dec. 8, during which MetalMiner experts will overview their price predictions for 2022

Nucor to build rebar micro mill

Nucor logo

Postmodern Studio/Adobe Stock

Nucor Corporation said it will build a new rebar micro mill in the South Atlantic region.

The firm already has rebar micro mills in Missouri and Florida.

The new mill will have a budgeted capex of $350 million, the firm said, with an annual capacity of 430,000 tons.

“We have recently executed two successful rebar micro mill start-ups and believe the East Coast market will be in need of additional rebar supply in the coming years, particularly with the recent passage of the infrastructure spending bill,” Nucor President and CEO Leon Topalian said. “Rebar has been a core business for Nucor since we got into steelmaking and this project will enable us to maintain our leadership position in the rebar market.”

Oil price slides

Oil prices retreated last week after previously surging above over $80 per barrel ahead of Thanksgiving.

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:

hot rolled coil steel

taitai6769/Adobe Stock

Cut-to-length adders. Width and gauge adders. Coatings. Feel confident in knowing what you should be paying for metal with MetalMiner should-cost models.

Week of Nov. 29-Dec. 3 (hot rolled coil prices, Alcoa announces smelter restart and more)

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