Industry News

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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.”

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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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rolled aluminum on table with worker

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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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This morning in metals news, the U.S. Senate is prepared to vote on a $2 trillion stimulus package Wednesday, U.S. steel imports are down 21% and U.S. Steel is idling its Lorain tubular plant.

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This morning in metals news, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has reportedly locked down a mining province for 48 hours, the U.S. steel sector’s steel capacity utilization rate is 81.7% for the year through March 14 and Ford provided an update on its North American operations amid the coronavirus crisis.

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Significant gaps remain within societal expectations of the mining industry, a recent report from the Responsible Mining Foundation said.

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“The performances of even the best-scoring companies fall considerably short of society expectations in all six thematic areas,” the report stated, adding that all mining companies must improve their efforts to ensure company practices are efficiently managed.

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This morning in metals news, Turkey has objected to the E.U.’s steel safeguards at the World Trade Organization (WTO) level, copper prices continue to plummet and Chinese iron ore prices took heavy losses Monday.

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Although housing starts in the U.S. in February declined compared with January, they rose 39.2% compared with starts in January 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

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