Market Analysis

After drifting off from a spring high, the nickel price has flatlined in the second quarter (along with much of the rest of the metals complex).

However, the metal has put in a surprisingly strong performance in just the last week due to Indonesia’s announced export ban spooking market concerns about supply, according to the Financial Times.

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Since last week, nickel has reached an 11-month high, jumping 9% to above $14,000 a tonne, the article reports, extending gains since the start of the year to 30%.

In contrast, copper is up just 1.2% in 2019, while aluminum has gained only 2.5%.

Robust demand in China has helped nickel’s overall position this year, but the recent export ban has added fuel to the fire.

Indonesia is the world’s second-largest exporter of nickel ore after the Philippines. In an unexpected move, Jakarta pledged last week to stick with plans to stop exports of unprocessed nickel ore in 2022.

The ban is aimed at encouraging the domestic development of value-added industries, such as refined nickel and even stainless steel production, a policy that has had its ups and downs in recent years but broadly proved successful in encouraging domestic refined metal production.

The Philippines, the top nickel producer, and Indonesia are major ore suppliers to China’s nickel pig iron industry, which currently accounts for some 20% of global nickel production.

Much of the demand for nickel is being driven by stainless steel production in China. So far this year, that demand has been strong. However, as the Financial Times notes, inventories have also been rising, raising questions about the underlying strength of the Chinese market facing the headwinds of a trade war and slowing growth.

Maybe consumers should not be panicking too much about rising nickel prices — a pullback after such a strong rise is likely, especially coming into the summer season when demand in China and western Europe is likely to soften.

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Prices could fall back a little from current highs, but they are unlikely to return to turn-of-the-year levels.

The July 2019 Monthly Metals Index (MMI) report is in the books.

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After a couple of down months, the MMIs showed upward movement this time around.

Seven of 10 MMIs increased for the July reading. The Raw Steels MMI was the lone subindex to drop, as U.S. steel prices continue to decline. Meanwhile, the Aluminum and Construction MMIs traded flat.

A few highlights from this month’s round of MMI reports:

    • The spread between platinum and palladium prices widened this past month.
    • U.S. construction spending in May dropped 2.3% on a year-over-year basis.
    • Aluminum prices this past month were down in China but rose in the rest of the world.
    • Declining U.S. steel prices led to a one-point decline in the Raw Steels MMI.

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Read about all of the above and much more by downloading the July 2019 MMI Report below:

The Renewables Monthly Metals Index (MMI) gained three points this month, rising to a July MMI value of 105.

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Congo Cobalt Output Rises 3%

Cobalt output in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) jumped 3% over the first five months of the year compared with the same year in 2018, Reuters reported.

Cobalt production for the period reached 44,522 tons, according to the report, while copper production increased 11%.

The latter piece of information confirms another report from Bloomberg, which cites a cobalt specialist who projected artisanal mining of cobalt could drop by 70% this year as a result of falling cobalt prices.

A majority of the world’s cobalt is mined in the DRC. As such, falling cobalt prices have negatively impacted the DRC’s economy — according to the Financial Times, an International Monetary Fund projection calls for 4.3% growth in the country this year, down from 5.8% in 2018.

On Thursday, July 11, the IMF announced the disbursement of about $44.9 million to the DRC in support of the country’s “economic and financial reform program.”

“The Republic of Congo has been suffering one of its worst economic crises in recent years,” an IMF release states. “The crisis was triggered by the sharp decline in oil prices since 2014 and delays in the implementation of an effective policy response. It has resulted in an economic recession, large fiscal and current account deficits, unsustainable debt, an accumulation of a large stock of domestic arrears and an erosion in confidence associated with weak governance.”

The LME cobalt price rose to $95,000 per ton in early 2018, but has plunged since then, down to $25,500 per ton this week.

Plate Prices Slide

Meanwhile, plate prices from several countries declined over the course of June, including U.S. and Chinese plate prices.

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GOES

The GOES MMI, covering grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES), surged 11% this month for a July reading of 191.

Actual Metal Prices and Trends

The Japanese steel plate price fell 0.3% month over month to $793.50/mt as of July 1. Korean steel plate rose 1.2% to $596.66/mt.

The Chinese steel plate price fell 1.1% to $618.92/mt. U.S. steel plate dropped 4.0% to $866/st.

The GOES coil price surged 25.0% to $2,993/mt.

The Chinese neodymium price fell 1.6% to $64,804.90/mt. Chinese silicon rose 0.6% to $1,499.98/mt. Chinese cobalt cathodes gained 0.6% to $96,843.20/mt.

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Reactions from Indian steel industry leaders to some of the provisions of the annual budget that was just passed have been a mixed bag.

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Overall, industry players were in agreement that the annual budget exercise would push big-ticket infrastructure projects. Stress on infrastructure means more consumption of steel.

India’s first woman finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, announced fresh projects, including augmenting as much as 125,000 kilometers of rural roads, setting up more industrial corridors, & extending railway infrastructure, according to moneycontrol.com.

Steel company CEOs, like Chairman of Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) Anil Kumar Chaudhary, told the Press Trust of India (PTI) that these were “welcome steps.” Billions of dollars have been earmarked to be spent every year on developing and reinforcing infrastructure.

The SAIL chairman’s rival, Tata Steel CEO and Managing Director T.V. Narendran, saw good news in the budgetary provisions. He said the provisions would boost the domestic steel market, which has otherwise been in a state of decline.

N.A. Ansari, joint managing director of Jindal Steel and Power Ltd., told reporters that improving railways through the public-private partnership model was an “opportunity” for India’s steel industry.

One day before the budget, as is the norm, the Economic Survey report was released, which reflects the health of the Indian company. That report has estimated the country’s steel output to hit 128.6 million tons (MT) by 2021 and consumption to reach 140 MT by 2023 on the back of investments in infrastructure, construction and automobile sectors.

On a macro level, the steel majors have welcomed the union budget; on the ground, smaller players have raised some red flags.

Integrated steel players in stainless and carbon steel did not join the cheering.

The budget proposal to hike customs duties on stainless steel items from 5% to 7.5% will rein in imports of semi-finished products by the unorganized sector of domestic producers. As K.K. Pahuja, president of the Indian Stainless Steel Development Association (ISSDA) was quoted in the Economic Times as saying, “This will barely change the scenario as there is little import of these semi-finished stainless-steel products in the country.”

Where imports do make a large dent in India is in stainless steel flat products, where its share is about 20%. This sector does need government protection, but a call to hike tariff rates was met with no success.

Large integrated steel producers face the threat of cheap steel being diverted to India after the U.S.’s decision to impose tariffs on Chinese and Vietnamese steel products. Because of it, the Indian Steel Association has been asking for an increase in the customs duty.

The finance minister did propose to cut customs duties on certain inputs for making cold-rolled grain-oriented sheets or electrical steels — used in critical power equipment — from 5% to 2.5%, according to the Economic Times. This has been welcomed, as it would encourage domestic production of such steel products in the country.

And Now, Over to the U.S. President…

A few days from now, representatives from the U.S. and India will meet to try and break the trade impasse between the two countries, on the heels of India’s new tariffs on U.S. goods.

On Tuesday, though, Trump tweeted, “India has long had a field day putting Tariffs on American products. No longer acceptable!”

The tweet was enough to raise eyebrows in India.

India had finally imposed retaliatory tariffs on 28 U.S. products, including steel products, from June 5 after over a year’s delay.

The move was aimed at countering the increase in steel and aluminum tariffs by the U.S. and its withdrawal of duty-free benefits to Indian exporters. India also raised customs duties on a host of products, including alloy steel and auto parts, in the budget presented July 5.

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The fresh tweet by the president is being read in India as a pressure tactic before the new round of negotiations begin.

The Stainless Steel Monthly Metals Index (MMI) bounced back this month, rising two points to 69 after last month’s two-point drop.

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Movements of individual prices within the index were mixed.

LME nickel prices increased the most among price points in the index, up by 6.8% month over month. After June’s trend toward higher prices, the price dropped around July 1, then surged again and is essentially moving sideways at this time.

Source: MetalMiner analysis of the London Metal Exchange (LME) and FastMarkets

In June, rainy weather brought widespread flooding to Indonesia’s nickel hub on Sulawesi island. Estimates indicate a production shortfall of between 50,000-100,000 tons of nickel ore as a result, according to Indonesia’s Nickel Miners Association in press reports.

According to the latest numbers published by the International Nickel Study Group (INSG), as reported by Reuters, the supply deficit for the refined nickel market came in at 27,000 tons for the first four months of the year, down from 59,000 tons during the same period in 2018. The most recent INSG projections indicate the supply gap will close during the second half of 2019.

Domestic Stainless Steel Market

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

Stainless 304 and 316 NAS surcharges fell again this month, now similar to surcharge rates at the start of the year. Surcharges are still above 2016 lows and are still moving within the sideways band that formed in December 2016. Should the supply gap close as projected, this may cause surcharges to fall even further.

What This Means for Industrial Buyers

Stainless price performance was mixed this month, as primary nickel prices rose while stainless surcharges dropped once again.

For buying guidance, including resistance and support pricing levels by metal, industrial buying organizations can try a free two-month trial of our Monthly Metal Buying Outlook report.

Buying organizations will want to read more about our longer-term steel price trends with our Annual Outlook.

Actual Stainless Steel Prices and Trends

The U.S. 316 and 304 Allegheny Ludlum stainless surcharges dropped again this month — by 6% and 9%, respectively, to $0.83/pound and $0.56/pound.

Meanwhile, nickel prices were up quite a bit. The LME primary 3-month price increased by 6.8% to $12,710/mt. China’s primary nickel price increased by 4.27% to $14,658/mt. India’s primary nickel price increased by 4.3% to $13/kilogram.

Chinese nonferrous FeCr lumps decreased by 3% to $1,595/mt and FeMo lumps dropped by 2.3% to $17,548/mt.

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The remaining prices in the index generally increased mildly, between 0.6% and 1.9% (with the exception of Chinese 316 stainless scrap, which declined by 0.4% to $1,908/mt).

buhanovskiy/AdobeStock

The Raw Steels Monthly Metals Index (MMI) fell slightly this month, following last month’s more significant decline. The index came in at 75 this month, down one point from the previous month.

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U.S. steel prices continued their clear drop this month, with prices dropping for HRC, CRC, HDG and plate.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

HRC prices dropped by around 12% over the course of June, the steepest price decline in the Raw Steels basket of metals. HDG dropped by around 7%. CRC and plate prices dropped by 5% and 4%, respectively.

Recently, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported that U.S. steel production capacity utilization reached 79.4% during the week ending on July 6, up from 77.4% one year ago. Capacity utilization decreased from the prior week by 0.2%.

Production totaled 1.85 million tons for the week, with year-to-date production at 50.46 million net tons based on a capacity utilization of 81.2%. So far this year, production numbers increased by 5.3% compared to the same period last year.

According to the most recently published U.S Census Bureau numbers, May steel imports dropped to a value of $1.9 billion, compared with $2.5 billion in April. In May, imports totaled 1.9 million metric tons compared to 3 million metric tons in April. Imports of blooms, billets and slabs dropped during May, while imports of reinforcing bars, sheets and strip, and heavy structural shapes increased.

Through the first four months of the year, imports totaled 10.4 million metric tons, down from 11.3 million metric tons during the same period of 2018. While imports of hot-rolled and cold-rolled sheets fell, imports of blooms, billets and slabs increased compared with the same period last year.

The U.S. Department of Commerce ruled July 8 in favor of duties on structural steel imports from China and Mexico based on the argument that the imports benefited from state subsidies. Meanwhile, the Department of Commerce made a negative determination with respect to imports of fabricated structural steel from Canada, finding Canadian exporters benefited from countervailable subsidies ranging from 0.12-0.45%.

Chinese HRC, CRC Prices Moving Sideways

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

Rather than continuing to drop, prices of HRC and CRC increased slightly this month; however, they did not fully recover from the previous month’s price drops. HDG and plate prices, meanwhile, continued to drop into early July.

The Chinese government’s stimulus measures, combined with additional capacity closures, appear to be supporting some prices at this time.

Reuters recently reported Hebei, China’s top steelmaking province, moved up its December 2019 capacity cut targets by two months to the end of this October, according to provincial authorities.

Coal and coke will also see planned reductions of 10 million tons and 3 million tons, respectively. as authorities continue to work on improving air quality. Last year, around 12 million tons of steel capacity, along with some coal and coke capacity, were eliminated in the region and some cities closed steel production.

Regardless, Chinese steel output in aggregate continues to rise in 2019, as demonstrated by the production volume statistics published by TradingEconomics.com. Figures indicate steel production hit a new monthly high in May of around 89.1 million tons, up from the then-monthly high in April of 85 million tons.

With iron ore prices still high and representing around 30% of the price of steel, this may also provide some support to Chinese steel prices.

What This Means for Industrial Buyers

The global steel prices tracked by the index showed mixed performance this month, with U.S. prices showing the greatest weakness.

The U.S. Midwest HRC futures spot price dropped significantly, while the U.S. Midwest HRC futures 3-month price increased, showing some bullishness despite currently falling prices.

With prices giving mixed signals, industrial buying organizations seeking more pricing guidance should request a free two-month trial of our Monthly Metal Buying Outlook report.

Buying organizations will also want to read more about longer-term steel price trends can do so with MetalMiner’s Annual Outlook.

Actual Raw Steel Prices and Trends

Once again, U.S. prices registered the largest price decrease this month.

The U.S. Midwest HRC futures spot price dropped by 7.6% on a month-over-month basis to $536/st, while the U.S. shredded scrap price dropped by 7.1% to $274/st.

In contrast, the U.S. Midwest HRC futures 3-month price increased by 2.4% to $600/st.

Korean standard scrap steel prices increased by 5% to $133/st. Korean pig iron prices increased by 1.9% to $341/st.

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China’s HRC price fell by 3.5% to $497/st and steel slab dropped by 1.5% to 490/st, while other Chinese prices in the index increased. Steel billet increased by 2% to $493/mt, while the remaining Chinese prices increased in the range of 0.5% to 1%.

The Global Precious Monthly Metals Index (MMI) picked up eight points, rising for a July MMI value of 101.

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The U.S. Dollar and Precious Metals

This past month, MetalMiner chatted with Americas Silver Corporation CEO Darren Blasutti to talk about the precious metals market.

In an analysis, MetalMiner’s Belinda Fuller noted the U.S. dollar still reigns supreme as the world’s reserve currency, despite speculation that the yuan could eventually overtake it.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™), Macrotrends.net and Yahoo.com

“U.S. and Chinese gold bullion prices, as seen in the chart above, move closely together,” Fuller explained. “Meanwhile, they both tend to move inversely against the dollar.

“In other words, as the dollar gains strength, gold prices grow weaker in both countries.

“The yuan fluctuates more widely against the dollar, with little apparent impact on gold prices.”

As with other metals, gold price are inversely correlated with the U.S. dollar. The U.S. dollar fell to just under 96 on June 24, but has since gained momentum, rising to 97.50 as of Tuesday afternoon.

The gold price dropped in late June amid the dollar’s recent surge. It picked back up, however, before dropping again early this week.

Amid slumping silver prices, Americas Silver Corporation has shifted some of its focus to gold, in addition to lead and zinc. Blasutti noted the company is keeping higher-grade silver in the ground, for now, until silver prices experience a resurgence.

“When silver does come back, we can increase ounces quite dramatically on the silver side,” Blasutti said.

The company acquired the Relief Canyon Mine in Nevada, where it expects to begin gold pouring later this year.

“Part of the impetus to get back to precious metals was to get a commodity that we thought had less volatility,” Blasutti said. “Gold has shown to have less volatility in the last period, much more than the base metals. Base metals traded in a range and gold has traded in a range, but the range hasn’t been severe [for gold].”

In other news, market watchers are anticipating testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell before the House of Representatives on Wednesday, particularly with respect to any commentary regarding potential interest rate cuts after hikes late last year.

Powell has come in for repeated criticism from President Donald Trump for the Fed’s rate hikes. This week, Larry Kudlow, the National Economic Council director, called the rate hikes “unnecessary,” CNBC reported.

The Palladium-Platinum Spread

Elsewhere in the index, the spread between palladium and platinum widened once again, this month to $682/ounce.

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The palladium price soared to its highest level since March, hitting $1,516 per ounce as of July 1. Meanwhile, the platinum price also rose, but more modestly.

Actual Metal Prices and Trends

The U.S. silver price ticked up to $15.29/ounce as of July 1, marking a 3.5% month-over-month increase.

U.S. platinum bars rose 1.7% to $834/ounce. U.S. palladium bars surged 15.8% to $1,516/ounce.

Chinese gold bullion jumped 4.7% to $44.95/gram, while U.S. gold bullion rose 6.3% to $1,408.90/ounce.

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The Copper Monthly Metals Index (MMI) rebounded to 74 following last month’s fairly sizable drop from 78 to 73 (hitting a 2019 index  low).

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LME copper prices dropped by nearly $100/mt around the first of July after gaining strength in June, then traded sideways during the first week of the month.

Source: MetalMiner analysis of London Metal Exchange (LME) and FastMarkets

Meanwhile, LME warehouse stocks increased.

Source: MetalMiner analysis of FastMarkets

However, copper mining disruptions continue to impact mine output. According to Reuters, Chile’s exports of copper declined by 14% in June compared with June of 2018, coming on the heels of extremely rainy weather early in 2019. Additionally, falling ore grades continue to hurt Chilean mining production.

The Congo army recently evicted illegal miners working at Kamoto Copper Company (KCC), a Glencore subsidiary in the Kolwezi area. According to the company, around 2,000 illegal, small-scale miners intruded illegally daily, on average. The move followed a landslide that killed 43 people at the KCC concession.

Zambia announced plans for a law that will compel miners to procure locally, according to the country’s mine minister, as reported by Reuters. Zambia continues to take a greater role in the mining sector. Zambia ranks second in Africa in copper export volume, with the metal dominating the country’s exports.

Chinese Copper Scrap vs. LME Copper

The price gap between Chinese copper scrap and LME copper narrowed last month considerably due to the steep LME price drop. This month, however, the slight LME price increase exceeded the slight increase in Chinese copper scrap prices.

Notably, China’s refined copper output in May dropped by 5.2% compared with May 2018. Output totaled 711,000 tons, marking a 3.9% decrease compared with the previous month.

The recent crackdown on scrap imports has likely caused the production decline. Further restrictions impacting high-grade copper scrap came down in early July as the Chinese government continues to ramp up its crackdown on scrap.

Given that scrap imports fueled about 10% of production last year, producers need to find alternative sources of raw material. According to China Minmetals Corporation in press reports, copper imports made by the company from a preferred Chilean trading partner look set to increase this year to a value of $900 million.

What This Means for Industrial Buyers

With copper prices showing some strength in June, industrial buying organizations will need to pay careful attention to macroeconomic growth, which could continue to support prices.

It’s important for buying organizations to understand how to react to copper price movements. The MetalMiner Monthly Metal Buying Outlook helps buyers understand the copper marketplace.

Actual Copper Prices and Trends

Copper prices strengthened this month across the index with the exception of Korean copper strip, which dropped 0.4% to $8.29 per kilogram.

The Indian copper cash price increased by 10.9%, the largest increase in the index this month, to $6.53 per kilogram.

Chinese prices turned around this month, as all of the Chinese prices in the index increased. China’s primary cash price and copper wire price increased by 2.7% to $6,898/mt and $6,892/mt, respectively. Copper bar increased 2.8% to $6,885/mt.

Chinese scrap copper #2 increased by 0.6% to $5,592/mt.

U.S. prices in the index all increased by 1.7%. U.S. copper producer copper grade 110 increased to $3.49 per pound, grade 102 priced at $3.68 per pound and grade 122 at $3.49 per pound.

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The Japanese primary cash price increased by 2.1% to $6,163/mt. The LME primary 3-month increased by 2.8%, up to $5,982/mt.

The Aluminum Monthly Metals Index (MMI) held steady at 86 this month based on mixed price movements. While prices in China dropped in the 1% to 2% range, all other prices in the Aluminum MMI basket rose slightly.

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LME aluminum prices continued to fall into June, but recovered toward the end of the month. LME prices are currently moving sideways at around $1,800/mt, with the present price slightly higher at $1,807/mt.

Source: MetalMiner analysis of London Metal Exchange (LME) and FastMarkets

Due to lower LME prices, a recent forecast for Indian production projects a slowdown in output growth. Domestic production costs increased by around 25% during the past three to five years, putting break-even costs above the current LME price, which was at $1,777/mt in late June.

According to Reuters, Japanese aluminum premiums increased 3% to $108/ton for Q3 due to tighter aluminum supplies in Asia. Japanese producers initially sought increases to the $115-$120 per ton range. Weakness in the semiconductors market and trade worries capped gains.

Chinese Aluminum Prices

SHFE aluminum prices weakened during the past month, reversing the upward trend evident since around February 2019. Demand appears seasonally weaker at this time; therefore, market observers will want to watch prices carefully during the next month or two to see if the downtrend continues.

Source: MetalMiner analysis of Fastmarkets

In a normal cycle, prices might rise again as China moves away from seasonally hot and rainy weather.

According to a recent Reuters report, China’s aluminum production increased by 2.4% in May compared with May 2018 because of smelter restarts in response to higher prices, which could also contribute to the recent weakness.

Price weakness appears to be temporary. If prices do not increase, this will indicate a weaker-than-expected Chinese economy and/or that output continues to increase, with increased supply capping price gains.

Increased Aluminum Use on the Horizon Across Sectors

Aluminum prices may also receive future support from innovations beyond just the automotive sector, based on the metal’s flexibility and lightweight profile.

The Indian government announced that railway coach cars will transition to aluminum, while older conventional stock will begin a phaseout.

Coca-Cola announced its AQUAFINA® water brand will see an aluminum can package in U.S. food service outlets. The announcement comes as part of the company’s greater move to reduce the use of plastic packaging.

U.S. Aluminum Premiums

The U.S. Midwest Premium finally dropped, but only slightly, to $0.18/lb. With aluminum prices rising in most countries, supply tightness may continue to support the premium. The U.S. Midwest Premium still remains stubbornly high since the the U.S. removed its aluminum tariffs on Canadian and Mexican aluminum in May.

What This Means for Industrial Buyers

Price signals were mixed this month, with weaker Chinese prices contrasting with higher prices in the rest of the world. Global production increased, but not enough to offset overall tightness in terms of supply.

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Actual Metal Prices and Trends

Chinese prices dropped again this month, in the range of 1-2%. The Chinese primary cash price dropped 1.6% to $2,013/mt, while Chinese aluminum scrap fell 1.7% to $1,835/mt. Billet and bar prices dropped by 1.6% and 1.5%, respectively, to $2,080/mt and $2,177/mt.

This month, European prices increased. European commercial 1050 sheet increased by 2.3% to $2,553/mt, while the 5083 plate price increased by 2% to $3,011/mt.

Korean commercial 1050 sheet, 5052 coil premium over 1050, and 1050 all increased by around 2% to $3.1, $3.14 and $3.27 per kilogram, respectively.

India’s primary cash price increased 1% to $2.09 per kilogram.

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The LME primary 3-month aluminum price held essentially flat, increasing 0.28% increase to $1,794/mt.

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The Rare Earths Monthly Metals Index (MMI) picked up one point, rising for a July MMI value of 23.

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New Rare Earths Association

A new rare earths industry based in Belgium was launched last month.

Dubbed the Rare Earths Industry Association (REIA), it is the first rare earths association outside of China, Euractiv reported.

The group aims to bring together all elements of the rare earths supply chain and “strengthen the European REE skills and knowledge base,” according to the group’s website.

“GloREIAs second ambitious goal is to develop a more synergistic REE supply chain; aiming to reduce the deep fragmentation known in this sector and apply the knowledge gained from EU projects, research and members to generate an economy wide impact,” the website adds. “The GloREIA consortium assembles the best European manufacturers and academic expertise on REEs, together with global associations such as the Chinese Society of Rare Earths (CSRE) and Association of China Rare Earth Industry, Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) and EIT RawMaterials so that research and policy activities in the area of Rare Earth Elements can be streamlined, integrated and mutually strengthened for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

The mining of rare earths — a misnomer given their abundance — has long been dominated by China. These elements are coveted for their use in a wide range of high-tech applications.

On the Tariff Front

Speaking of China’s dominance of the market, that fact has to date has given the U.S. pause when it comes to imposing tariffs on imports of rare earth elements (REEs) from China.

In a $200 billion tariff list imposed last September, the U.S. ultimately opted not to include REEs.

However, in a tense May, President Donald Trump opted to raise the tariff rate on those $200 billion in goods from 10% to 25%, and even threatened an additional $325 billion in tariffs, essentially subjecting all remaining imports from China to duties.

Given China’s role in the rare earths sector, it remains to be seen if rare earths would be included on a future tariff list.

According to a CNBC report in June, China’s exports of rare earths fell to 3,639.5 metric tons in May after reaching 4,329 metric tons the previous month.

Actual Metal Prices and Trends

Chinese yttrium rose 0.6% month over month to $32.77/kg as of July 1. Terbium oxide rose 13.0% to $597.81/kg.

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Neodymium oxide dropped 0.3% to $50,522.20/mt. Europium oxide fell 1.6% to $32.77/kg. Dysprosium oxide fell 1.0% to $283.25/kg.