Industry News

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This morning in metals news, the U.S. steel capacity utilization rate reached 80.7% for the year through March 28, steel industry workers in the Great Lakes region tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and copper clawed back some gains Tuesday.

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This morning in metals news, industrial profits in China plummeted over the first two months of the year amid the coronavirus outbreak, Rio Tinto released an update on its operations during the outbreak and copper prices are down 15% over the last month.

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The coronavirus pandemic has made its mark on supply chains, leaving some companies looking for relief.

[Any cash influx for your business counts, especially now. View MetalMiner’s recent webinar on how to check if you are eligible for Section 301 tariff refunds and what steps to take to speed up the refund and get a cash influx into your business ASAP!]

For some, that means petitioning for tariff relief, particularly from President Donald Trump’s Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs.

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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 coverage here on MetalMiner, including coverage of: U.S. housing starts; aluminum mills taking steps to make their operations more green; iron ore prices; and the European steel sector.

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This morning in metals news, U.S. Steel announced a number of measures in response to the coronavirus crisis and falling oil price, concerns have been raised regarding cleaning procedures at a Michigan steel mill, and Republican senators have asked President Donald Trump to roll back trade barriers amid the coronavirus outbreak.

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As the coronavirus outbreak continues to wreak havoc around the world, the crisis has already left a major mark on societies, politics and business.

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The outbreak has disrupted supply chains and led to the idling or slowdown of operations in North America (and across the world).

With shelter-in-place orders instituted in many places throughout the U.S. and lingering uncertainty — even as the U.S. Senate voted this week to approve an over $2 trillion stimulus package — the climate is ripe for some potentially awkward conversations with suppliers about payment concessions.

Over at MetalMiner’s sister site SpendMatters, Jason Busch outlined techniques and strategies that can be used when approaching suppliers about concessions on payments.

“Disruption from the coronavirus outbreak is forcing some tough conversations about payments,” Busch wrote.

“It’s never an easy topic, but asking suppliers for concessions on a call or video chat in an empathetic manner — or even pre-empting the discussions by socializing ideas early — is far more effective and conducive for relationship-building and joint development than sending out emails, letters or other methods.”

Busch suggests laying the groundwork for these types of potentially tricky conservations by humanizing the discussion and being prepared to counter with empathy and open-ended questions.

“It’s even possible to get them to volunteer a solution, without yielding ground, rather than being confrontational and demanding,” Busch wrote. “These approaches are likely to be more effective, and result in better relationships, while also surfacing information you would not have otherwise discovered in the process, and that information may help you reduce risk and/or improve your negotiating position.”

Improve metal purchase timing and mitigate price risk — trial MetalMiner’s monthly metal buying outlook

Read the full article at SpendMatters.

Europe’s steelmakers are cutting production and idling factory lines as an industry already buckling under a severe market downturn girds itself for the economic fallout from coronavirus, the Financial Times reports.

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Companies such as Thyssenkrupp and Tata Steel have taken action because of falling orders, a lack of available personnel or as a safety precaution against infections, while market leader ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel producer, has reduced output at most of its plants on the continent.

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This morning in metals news, U.S. unemployment insurance claims soared last week as the coronavirus outbreak intensified, Thyssenkrupp announced 3,000 layoffs and the United States Trade Representative (USTR) said there had been progress in enforcing some provisions of the recently signed Phase One trade deal with China.

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Global copper mine production dipped last year compared with 2018, according to the most recently monthly data from the International Copper Study Group (ICSG).

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Copper concentrate production declined 0.6% and solvent-extraction electrowinning fell by around 1%, the ICSG reported.

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Like in other countries, the outbreak of COVID- 19 and the subsequent lockdown threatens to disrupt India’s steel production.

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What’s more, there are reports coming in now that Indian steel companies will face even more competition from rivals in China in this state of crisis, adding to the woes of the former.

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