Industry News

MetalMiner has long held the belief that no super-cycle exists to drive commodities prices. The argument against the super cycle suggests a lack of a 10-year sustained growth trend of new demand to support such a cycle. And despite not having a sustained growth demand cycle, metal prices remain extremely volatile due to supply constraints. These constraints will likely continue throughout 2022.

What we are watching

For stainless steel buyers, MetalMiner has kept a close eye on a tariff exclusion request from A&T Stainless. The request would allow the joint venture between Allegheny Technologies and China’s Tsingshan to import hot rolled band from Indonesia to produce 304L and 316L.

In addition, according to MetalMiner’s own Katie Benchina Olsen, “If the exemption is granted, A&T Stainless would restart the Direct Roll Anneal and Pickle (DRAP) line in Midland, Pennsylvania. The line would produce about 20,000 tons a month of thicknesses .048″ and heavier. If the DOC approves the request, the DRAP line would take several weeks to start up.”

On Thursday, Jan 27 at 11:00am Katie Benchina Olsen will update MetalMiner readers on the ramifications of the exclusion request during our monthly webinar. Readers can sign up here to attend.

Moreover, not everyone will support the exclusion request. Specifically, other domestic mills will likely oppose it as they have customers on strict allocation.

Nickel prices rising on dwindling inventory levels

Concurrently, nickel has seen strong global demand amid falling LME warehouse stocks and renewed concerns over tight supply. LME warehouse stocks have plunged to their lowest levels since 2019 at 99,462 metric tons. They remain roughly half of where they stood just in August of last year. Many factors drive the current nickel market including strong stainless demand (although China demand is expected to cool down) and EV battery demand.

Tesla rumors on SDI false

Metal nerds know that the SDI plant going up in Sinton TX would not supply the Tesla Cybertruck (SDI produces steel and not stainless steel). The new Tesla Cybertruck will apparently make use of a stainless steel exoskeleton. Delorean fans might recall that car used 301 stainless.

Aluminum prices continue to move up

Meanwhile, the European energy crisis continues to roil Europe. With multiple smelter shutdowns due to surging energy prices and eroded profits, tight aluminum supply continues both in Europe as well as in China. The curtailed production there due to its own energy crisis and reduction of carbon emissions goals has led to a reduction in supply.

Join the MetalMiner team on Thursday, Jan 27 at 11:00am for additional information on all of these metals, carbon steels and how AI and advanced algorithmic modeling yields more accurate forecast results.

 

This morning in metals news: LME copper prices have ticked up; the U.S. monthly trade deficit increased from October to November; and, lastly, WTI crude prices made some gains this week.

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Copper prices rise

copper mine in Peru

Jose Luis Stephens/Adobe Stock

Copper prices had trended firmly in between MetalMiner support and resistance levels for much of Q4 2021.

However, copper prices have showed signs of upward momentum.

The LME three-month copper price closed Tuesday at $9,759 per metric ton. The price had increased 2.94% month over month, MetalMiner Insights data indicate.

US trade deficit reaches $80.2M in November

The U.S. trade deficit reached $80.2 billion in November, the Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis reported.

The deficit increased from $67.2 billion in October.

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India is trying to save some export bucks in the new year where specialty steel is concerned.

In 2022, India plans to focus on increasing per capita steel consumption enhancing steel raw material security.

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

India seeks investors under PLI scheme for specialty steel

India

Zerophoto/Adobe Stock

In line with its announcement in mid-2021, the Government of India (GoI) recently invited applications from investors looking to invest under the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for specialty steel. The deadline for all submissions is March 29, 2022, as per the Ministry of Steel announcement. The incentive payout could well be over U.S. $840 million over five years for those companies participating in the scheme.

Specifically, specialty steel is a variety of the alloy that is enhanced by coating, plating, heat treatment, etc., to transform it into high-value steel for numerous strategic sectors, such as defense, space, power and automobiles, among others.

With the PLI scheme, India aims to become less dependent on special steel imports into India.

The PLI scheme aims to promote the manufacture of specialty steel grades in India. Furthermore, it seems to help the steel industry rise to the top of the value chain through technology development.

The broad five target categories for the scheme are: coated/plated products, high-strength/wear-resistant steel, specialty rails, alloy steel products and steel wires, and electrical steel.

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This morning in metals news: MetalMiner’s January 2022 Monthly Metal Outlook (MMO) report is now available; steel capacity utilization for the week ending Jan. 1, 2022, fell to 80.6%; and, lastly, U.S. job openings declined in November.

Request a 30-minute demo of the MetalMiner Insights platform now.

January 2022 MMO report

MetalMiner has kicked off the new year with its latest Monthly Metal Outlook (MMO) forecast report, available only to subscribers.

For more information, those interested can visit the MMO landing page.

Will the steel price cooldown continue? Will stainless buyers find any relief? How are surging energy prices impacting metal producers around the world?

Find all of the above and much more in this month’s forecast report.

Steel capacity utilization dips to 80.6%

U.S. steel capacity utilization for the week ending Jan. 1, 2022, fell to 80.6%, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported.

Steel production during the week totaled 1.79 million tons, AISI reported. The total marked a 0.9% week-over-week decline but 9.5% jump year over year.

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This morning in metals news: energy costs surged in 2021; U.S. steel imports picked up in November; and, lastly, aluminum prices rose during the second half of December.

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

Energy costs rise in 2021

wind power and solar power installations generation

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Energy costs surged in 2021, putting the squeeze on residential consumers and industrial users alike (including metal producers).

According to the Energy Information Administration, energy prices used in the S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI) finished 2021 up by 59% from the first trading day of the year.

“Price increases were largely driven by increased demand from the initial phase of global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the EIA reported. “By comparison, most other commodity indexes included in the GSCI increased by about 20%. The precious metals index was the only one to decline. The energy index of the GSCI increased more than twice as much as the industrial metals index on a percentage basis during 2021, the next highest commodity index group price change.”

Steel imports rise in November

U.S. steel imports rose to an estimated 2.8 million metric tons in November, the Census Bureau reported, up from 2.5 million metric tons.

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This morning in metals news: copper prices have moved sideways to close 2021; meanwhile, the U.S. construction sector added jobs in November; and, finally, Northvolt said it had produced the first lithium-ion battery cell at its gigafactory in Sweden.

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.

Copper prices trend sideways

copper mine

Gary Whitton/Adobe Stock

Copper prices have consolidated and trended sideways to close the year.

The LME three-month price surged to nearly $10,300 per metric ton level in October, according to MetalMiner Insights data. The price proceeded to slide to close that month and has since trended sideways.

LME three-month copper closed Tuesday at $9,620 per metric ton, or up 0.1% month over month.

Construction employment rises

Construction employment picked up in November in a majority of U.S. metro areas, the Associated General Contractors of America reported.

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Continuing our review of 2021 — we previously recapped the most-viewed carbon steel, aluminum and stainless steel articles of the year — today we’ll take a look at the copper and copper price stories of the year.

copper stored in warehouse

Sitthichai/Adobe Stock

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Most-viewed copper stories of the year on MetalMiner

  1. Copper MMI: Copper demand likely to remain strong well into 2021
  2. Copper price rises as the metal’s bull story continues

  3. Copper price eases, but for how long?

  4. Copper prices to see out 2021 at lower levels — but higher prices coming in meantime

  5. Copper MMI: Traders take profits after copper price surges to 10-year high

  6. Copper prices continue to surge — is the market in danger of overheating?

  7. Copper MMI: Copper price cools in second half of May after reaching all-time high

  8. Copper MMI: Tight copper market sees high prices

  9. Copper MMI: Copper price soars to record high amid tightness, dollar’s slide

  10. What do China’s surging copper imports tell us about the economy for 2021?

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One of the world’s largest steelmakers, ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel, will invest ₹1 trillion (approx. U.S. $13 billion) to put up a 24 million ton per annum (MTPA) integrated greenfield steel facility in India’s eastern province of Odisha, India Today reported.

The project will generate 16,000 direct employment opportunities and other related indirect employment jobs through ancillary and downstream industries and services, as per a statement released by the Odisha government.

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

Largest project in the country

India

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The new plant will be India’s largest project in the manufacturing sector, the government said. Several international equipment manufacturers will be stakeholders in this project, likely to be finished in seven years.

The project at Kendrapara in Odisha will eventually make various grades of steel with its “green” steelmaking technology. In addition, it would also have cement capacity of 18.75 MTPA.

When completed, the steel and cement facilities would both be India’s largest single location greenfield projects.

AM/NS has also acquired two iron ore mines in Odisha by winning bids in auctions. ArcelorMittal has a 60% stake in AM/NS India. Meanwhile, Japan’s Nippon Steel holds the rest.

To avoid any delay in implementation of the project, the provincial government will form a committee to monitor time-bound clearances for logistics infrastructure and utilities required for the project.

ArcelorMittal will also develop a downstream industry park to promote micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises and help import substitution. A large number of ancillary manufacturing firms are expected to set up units in the region to support the steel plant.

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Continuing our review of 2021 — we previously recapped the most-viewed carbon steel and aluminum articles of the year — today we’ll take a look at stainless steel.

As MetalMiner analyst Nichole Bastin noted earlier this month, nickel prices surged to a seven-year high in November. More than two-thirds of global nickel production goes toward stainless steel output.

After peaking in late November, nickel prices retraced and consolidated, reaching $19,700 per metric ton last week.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, nickel prices plunged on the heels of nickel supply news from China’s Tsingshan Holding Group. The LME three-month nickel price plunged from around $19,700 in late February to $16,000 per metric ton in early March.

However, buyers continue to face shortages of stainless steel. According to MEPS International Inc., a U.K.-based steel market analysis firm, U.S. stainless steel production is forecast to rise by 16% this year.

Even so, shortages will likely continue into next year.

“Shortages of stainless steel, particularly cold rolled coil, are likely to be a feature of the domestic market in the short term,” MEPS said in a Dec. 1 report.

Are you under pressure to generate stainless steel cost savings? Make sure you are following these five best practices

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As we continue our review of MetalMiner coverage in 2021, today we’ll take a look back at the top aluminum and aluminum price stories of the year.

Previously, we reviewed the top carbon steel stories of the year.

aluminum ingot stacked for export

Olegs/Adobe Stock

Like other metals, aluminum prices enjoyed a bullish run over the past year. The LME three-month price peaked in late October 2021 at $3,200 per metric ton.

Since then, prices have cooled, falling to nearly $2,500 per metric ton before ticking back up and stabilizing throughout November and December.

With that, let’s take a look back at the most-viewed MetalMiner aluminum stories of the year.

Are you under pressure to generate aluminum cost savings? Make sure you are following these five best practices.

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