Archive | Aluminium/Bauxite

Auto makers turn to lighter metals in bid to shed weight – by Greg Keenan (Globe and Mail – October 9, 2017)

Battery-powered vehicles may eventually deliver a knockout blow to the internal-combustion engine, but auto makers and suppliers are developing counterpunches that will extend the life of the more than century-old technology that put the world on wheels.

The internal-combustion engine (ICE) is getting help from a tactic that seems simple on the surface, but is complex in practice – putting vehicles on a diet.

Materials that are lighter than steel, but were once too costly to replace steel for major applications in vehicles, are becoming more common. The use of aluminum, magnesium and carbon fibre is expected to grow to represent as much as 40 per cent of the body structure and closures in a vehicle by 2030, compared with 14 per cent currently. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto boss lauds B.C.’s clean energy as trade advantage – by Nelson Bennett (Business Vancouver – September 26, 2017)

Kitimat aluminum smelter facing stiff competition from huge production in China

When Gervais Jacques was invited to speak to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade last week about the $6 billion modernization of an aluminum smelter in Kitimat in 2014 and 2015, the context of the discussion was free trade with the U.S. The U.S., after all, is a major customer for B.C. aluminum.

But Jacques’ talk ended up sounding more like a promotion for large-scale hydroelectricity for heavy industry and manufacturing – something Jacques called “the Canadian advantage.”

It was B.C.’s hydro power potential that drew Alcan to B.C. to build the Kemano hydroelectric dam, completed in 1954, and aluminum smelter. It was at the time the largest private investment made in B.C. With a workforce of 1,000, the smelter is Kitimat’s largest employer. Continue Reading →

Unfair Trade, Uncertainty Killing American Aluminum And Steel – by Leo W. Gerard (Huffington Post – September 26, 2017)

Kameen Thompson started his workday Sept. 15 thinking that his employer, ArcelorMittal in Conshohocken, Pa., the largest supplier of armored plate to the U.S. military, might hire some workers to reduce a recent spate of overtime.

Just hours later, though, he discovered the absolute opposite was true.

ArcelorMittal announced that, within a year, it would idle the mill that stretches half a mile along the Schuylkill River. Company officials broke the bad news to Kameen, president of the United Steelworkers (USW) local union at Conshohocken, and Ron Davis, the grievance chair, at a meeting where the two union officers had hoped to hear about hiring.

ArcelorMittal wouldn’t say when it would begin the layoffs or how many workers would lose their jobs or which mill departments would go dark. The worst part for everyone now is the uncertainty, Kameen told me last week. Continue Reading →

Pop open a can to toast — the aluminum can – by Tim Philp (Brantford Expositor – September 7, 2017)

We live in a highly engineered world. Virtually everything that we touch has been engineered to be the best it can be for its purpose. Perhaps nothing illustrates this better than the ubiquitous pop can. These marvels of engineering science seem to be such simple devices.

We produce, by one estimate, about 200 billion of such cans every year. That is about 6,700 cans per second. If you placed these cans end to end, you would produce enough to circle the globe in a mere 17 hours. Aluminum cans use about 2.8 billion kilos of aluminum out of a total world production of about 10,680 billion kilograms. So, it is a small — but significant — fraction of the total production.

Aluminum is also one of the most recycled materials on Earth, which is a good thing because aluminum takes a great deal of energy to produce. In terms of energy requirements to mine aluminum, to make four cans requires the equivalent energy of filling one of those cans with gasoline. Continue Reading →

[Australia Mining] Jobs bonanza in wake of granting of bauxite mine leases (North Queensland Register – August 29, 2017)

Hundreds of jobs in Far North Queensland are closer after the Palaszczuk government this week granted three mining leases for the Bauxite Hills Mine project to operator Metro Mining.

Natural Resources and Mines Minister, Anthony Lynham said the granted leases were critical for the $35.8 million bauxite mine project to proceed into planned production.

“Granting these leases allows Metro Mining to consolidate and unlock the potential of the significant bauxite reserve that exists on the western Cape York Peninsula, and generate hundreds of jobs for the region” Dr Lynham said. The three granted leases are part of Metro Mining’s Bauxite Hills Mine project. The project in total is estimated to have a resource of 144.8 million tonnes of bauxite. Continue Reading →

China Speculators Swarm to Aluminum as Cuts Spur Supply Bet (Bloomberg News – August 23, 2017)

With a week to go, it’s already the heaviest month ever for trading aluminum in China.

The metal has typically been one of the quieter contracts on China’s mercurial futures markets, but supply reforms in the top producer and consumer have caught the attention of the nation’s speculators and sent prices to the highest in almost six years. Trading in August has already surpassed the previous monthly record set in November.

While the frenzy is raising concern aluminum’s just the latest Chinese commodity bubble that will be deflated by regulators before it bursts, there’s also optimism that investors are tapping into a real shift in the fundamental outlook for the metal. The Shanghai Futures Exchange has already stepped in to calm trading in steel and zinc this month as a surge in volume propelled prices to multi-year highs. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Repricing aluminium’s supply risks is a chaotic work in progress – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – August 14, 2017)

LONDON, Aug 14 (Reuters) – Aluminium was the standout performer among the major industrial metals last week. On the London Metal Exchange (LME) three-month metal jumped by more than 7 percent to reach its highest in nearly three years at $2,048 a tonne.

China outdid even that, with the most actively traded contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) hitting a five-year high of 16,480 yuan a tonne amid an explosion in trading volumes and open interest. There is much speculative froth in these moves, particularly in Shanghai, but there is also a collective attempt to reassess this market’s supply risks.

China has embarked on a policy of closing “illegal” smelter capacity, meaning that which has been constructed without the full gamut of official approvals. This being China, the largest producer of aluminium in the world, there are big implications for supply. Continue Reading →

Aluminum Leaps Past $2,000 a Ton After China Deepens Capacity Cuts – by Mark Burton (Bloomberg News – August 8, 2017)

Aluminum cemented its spot as the best commodity this year as prices jumped to over $2,000 a metric ton for the first time since 2014.

Prices have rallied as China ramps up efforts to curtail illegal or polluting capacity. The metal added 2.2 percent to $2,008 as of 3:58 p.m. in London, bringing gains for the year to about 19 percent, the biggest rally among 22 raw materials on the Bloomberg Commodity Index.

“It does feel like China’s supply-side reform is deepening, and aluminum is definitely one of our favorite metals,” Xiao Fu, head of global commodities strategy at BOCI Global Commodities U.K., said by phone. Continue Reading →

China aluminum capacity cuts boost market leaders, prices – by Tom Daly and Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – August 3, 2017)

BEIJING/MELBOURNE (Reuters) – China’s crackdown on its bloated aluminum industry is driving up the share price of the country’s major producers and raising the specter of a tighter global market that could buoy prices.

China is forcing the suspension of aluminum plants that have not obtained proper permits to build or expand, or that have not met strict environmental standards, as Beijing pushes to clear its skies and shore up loss-making industries.

China accounts for nearly 60 percent of global aluminum output and analysts estimate some 3-4 million tonnes of capacity could close this year, around a tenth of the country’s total, tightening the global market. Continue Reading →

Hydro-powered smelters charge premium prices for ‘green’ aluminum – by Peter Hobson (Reuters U.S. – August 2, 2017)

LONDON (Reuters) – Producers of “green” aluminum – made using renewable energy rather than fossil fuels – are starting to charge premium prices thanks to rising demand from industrial customers under pressure to reduce their carbon footprints.

Operators of smelters powered by hydro-electricity in the likes of Norway, Russia and Canada are promoting their environmental credentials – and stealing a march on others that rely on coal or gas, notably in China and the Gulf.

The competitive edge lies not in the metal itself, but the fact that its production requires far lower total emissions of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide. While they do not use the term “green” aluminum, a number of producers are offering low-carbon guarantees on their metal, although they refuse to say how much more they charge for this beyond saying the premiums are relatively modest. Continue Reading →

More Aluminum Cars? Not So Fast – by Chester Dawson (Wall Street Journal – July 31, 2017)

New study forecasts that auto makers’ use of aluminum will continue to grow, but pace will slow as vehicles incorporate a patchwork of materials

Aluminum may not be the new steel, according to a new study, as auto makers’ use of a single predominant lightweight material such as aluminum in vehicles like Ford Motor Co.’s F-150 pickup is giving way to a patchwork of materials replacing heavier sheet metal.

Long seen as a lighter but far more expensive alternative to steel for automotive manufacturers, aluminum has enjoyed a surge as engineers scramble to shave weight amid tighter emissions standards. A new study to be issued Monday by Ducker Worldwide says the use of aluminum in vehicles is projected to grow 42% over the next decade, but at a slower pace than in previous forecasts.

The average vehicle sold today weighs nearly 4,000 pounds and is made of rubber, plastic, steel, aluminum, upholstery and other materials. Auto makers have worked to make every component—from body panels and engines to brackets and windshields—lighter, often by substituting materials that can add costs but improve miles per gallon. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-All eyes on China’s aluminium sector but little clarity – by Andy Home (Reuters U.k. – July 28, 2017)

LONDON, July 28 (Reuters) – It’s all about China. This has been the mantra of the industrial metal markets for over a decade. The country’s industrialisation and urbanisation programmes have been the core driver of demand growth across the metallic spectrum.

In the case of aluminium, however, China’s influence on the global supply chain is double-edged. As well as being the biggest user of aluminium, China is by some margin the largest producer, accounting for over 50 percent of global output.

That dominant role is now in focus as Beijing launches what looks like a multi-pronged attack on its aluminium producers. Production cuts in regions around the capital have been mandated for the coming winter heating season, which starts in November. Continue Reading →

China’s steel, aluminum output at record as U.S. mulls penalties – by Muyu Xu and Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – July 16, 2017)

BEIJING/MELBOURNE (Reuters) – China churned out record amounts of steel and aluminum in June as producers rushed to cash-in on rallying prices in the wake of a drive by Beijing to crack down on output of low-grade metal.

That could fuel concerns the world’s top steel producer will export more metal, stoking global oversupply and fanning tensions with the United States after it accused the nation of flooding international markets with cheap aluminum and steel.

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to use a Cold War-era law to restrict imports for national security reasons as bilateral talks between Washington and Beijing continue. China has long-denied that it has been offloading metals abroad at the expense of foreign producers. Continue Reading →

Can Trump resurrect U.S. aluminum, and who killed it anyway? – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – July 13, 2017)

LONDON (Reuters) – Alcoa is bringing one of its U.S. aluminum smelters back from the dead. The Warrick smelter in Indiana has annual capacity of 269,000 tonnes, its own coal-based power source and is integrated with a rolling mill.

None of which saved it from Alcoa’s scramble down the cost curve in the face of falling prices, culminating in its permanent closure in January 2016. That’s different from what the industry calls a “curtailment”, a temporary idling for possible restart.

But now, miraculously, Warrick is back and Alcoa will fire up three of the plant’s five production lines, with capacity of 161,400 tonnes of aluminum. The other two will be classified as “curtailed”. The timing of this resurrection is politically charged. Continue Reading →

Rusal resumes Taishet aluminum project, sees deeper global deficit – by Anastasia Lyrchikova(Reuters U.S. – July 12, 2017)

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s Rusal has resumed construction of its long-stalled Taishet aluminum smelter project in Siberia in expectation of a widening global aluminum deficit, the company said on Wednesday.

The world’s second-largest aluminum producer behind China’s Hongqiao needs a further $700 million to complete the project, having invested about $800 million in Taishet before it was halted because of falling aluminum prices.

Aluminum prices have jumped by 12 percent to $1,887 a tonne since the start of January and Rusal expects them to climb above $1,900 by the end of the year, said Deputy Chief Executive Oleg Mukhamedshin, citing the company’s belief that the global deficit will reach 1.8 million tonnes in 2018, up 500,000 tonnes this year. Continue Reading →