aluminum price

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Despite a plunging LME price and dire short-term prospects for metal consumption in Europe and the U.S., aluminum mills are still following through on long-term plans to improve their environmental credentials.

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They are doing this, particularly, to lower the carbon content of their products to meet buyers’ increasing focus on such environmental considerations.

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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: the coronavirus outbreak’s impact on share prices and commodities prices; a look back at Norsk Hydro’s 2019; precious metals prices’ plunge; Moody’s releases a coronavirus heat map; and “negative oil” prices.

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We are not claiming any particular foresight on this, but a recent Reuters article yesterday covers a topic we wrote on last week concerning the disconnect between China’s aluminum smelters, which managed to raise output by 2.4% during the troubled first two months of this year, and the downstream aluminum semi-finished product producers, which all but shut down due to the enforced government lockdown in many parts of the country.

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The result we and Reuters report is SHFE stocks have mushroomed from 185,127 metric tons at the end of December to 519,542 tons now, as smelters churned out metal that no one could use.

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Aluminum is suddenly the new buzzword in India.

In the last 2-3 months, there has been a lot of activity in the Indian aluminum sector, much of it propelled by India’s ongoing quest for clean and green tech.

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For starters, news has just broken that the Indian Railways, one of the world’s largest rail networks, is looking to manufacture India’s first aluminum body train coaches.

The Railway Board has approved the manufacturing of 500 aluminum body coaches in India.

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Last year proved to be a hectic one for Norwegian aluminum maker Norsk Hydro.

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Hilda Merete Aasheim, who took over as CEO in 2019, recapped some of the challenges in the company’s annual report.

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China’s aluminum output has been running flat out during the first quarter despite the coronavirus sweeping the country, Reuters reported today.

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China’s aluminum production rose by 2.4% year over year in the first two months of 2020, Reuters advised, as smelting capacity commissioned late last year took supply higher, with output averaging 97,500 metric tons a day over January and February combined.

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This morning in metals news, China’s aluminum production through the first two months of the year was up despite the coronavirus outbreak, Rio Tinto offered an update on measures being undertaken at the Oyu Tolgoi project and the Federal Reserve has cut rates to nearly zero.

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Those of us who are just passive investors in the stock market, usually via our pension plans, have no doubt been horrified by the meltdown in stock prices and what feels like the daily destruction of our savings.

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But fear not, as for any of us in there for the long haul, it will no doubt come back gradually over time, however scary it feels in the meantime.

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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 coverage here on MetalMiner, including: Tesla’s reported interest in cobalt-free batteries; the oil price crash; falling aluminum prices; supply-chain challenges amid the COVID-19 outbreak; Trump’s travel suspension; and global cobalt mine production:

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This morning in metals news, the U.S.’s steel import levels were down by nearly half in February, Norsk Hydro’s Albras aluminum plant in Brazil recently experienced a power failure and General Motors recently revealed new developments in its overall electric vehicle (EV) strategy.

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Steel import levels drop in February

U.S. imports of steel dropped by 47.5% in February, the Times of Northwest Indiana reported.

Import permit applications for February fell to 1.82 million tons, according to the report.

Hydro’s Albras plant hit with power outage

Norsk Hydro last week reported a power failure at its part-owned Albras aluminum plant in Brazil led to the shutdown of 25% of its capacity.

One of four production lines at the plant was shut down after a fire impacted an electrical transformer. The plant, in which Hydro has a 51% stake, has an annual capacity of 460,000 tons.

GM announces EV developments

Automaker GM continues to promote its drive toward electrification, this time unveiling new Ultium batteries.

“Thousands of GM scientists, engineers and designers are working to execute an historic reinvention of the company,” GM President Mark Reuss said. “They are on the cusp of delivering a profitable EV business that can satisfy millions of customers.”

The batteries are “unique in the industry because the large-format, pouch-style cells can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack,” GM said in a release.

“This allows engineers to optimize battery energy storage and layout for each vehicle design,” the release continued.

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Per GM, the Ultium batteries energy options will range from 50 to 200 kWh, “which could enable a GM-estimated range up to 400 miles or more on a full charge with 0 to 60 mph acceleration as low as 3 seconds.”