Archive | Aluminium/Bauxite

Aluminum industry scrambles to align Trump’s trade guns – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – Jun 22, 2017)

LONDON -Aluminum industry executives will line up on Thursday to have their say on whether foreign imports into the United States pose a threat to the country’s security. The Section 232 investigation was announced by the Department of Congress on April 27 and follows hot on the heels of a similar probe into U.S. steel imports, the results of which are pending.

Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, to give its full title, was last used in 2001 against imports of iron ore with a “no action necessary” outcome.

This time around, everyone’s expecting a different result. The Trump administration has pledged to stem the rising metallic import tide and reverse the ebbing of the country’s primary aluminum production capacity. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto, Canada aluminum’s good guys in Commerce Department probe – by Suzanne O’Halloran (June 21, 2017)

The world’s biggest aluminum players want to set the record straight: they say they shouldn’t be lumped in with China, Russia and other alleged “bad actors” whose imports may be a threat to the security of the United States.

Among those Rio Tinto (RIO), the largest producer of aluminum in North America, via its operations in Quebec and British Columbia. “Rio Tinto’s operations, such as those in Utah, California and Arizona are strong contributors to the United States economy and employment” Rio Tinto CEO Alf Barrios said in prepared remarks viewed by FOX Business, to be delivered Thursday during a scheduled hearing.

Barrios also defended the miner’s long history as a U.S. defense ally dating back to World War II. “Our smelters have a long history of supplying U.S. manufacturers – particularly U.S. defense-related manufacturing” he notes. Continue Reading →

China’s Biggest Aluminum Producer to Cut Outdated Capacity (Bloomberg News – June 20, 2017)

China Hongqiao Group Ltd., the nation’s biggest aluminum smelter, is curtailing outdated capacity amid a broader crackdown by the government on illegal production. Shares of aluminum makers gained in China.

The company, the main aluminum arm of Shandong Weiqiao Pioneering Group Co., declined to give the scale or timing of the reduction in an emailed statement. Two people with knowledge of the situation said Weiqiao’s aluminum business started cutting 250,000 metric tons of annual capacity from Tuesday, declining to be identified as the information is private. A Weiqiao spokesman couldn’t be reached for comment.

China, the world’s top producer of the lightweight metal, has stepped up efforts this year to prune capacity to reduce excess supply. Its top economic planning agency issued an order in April for local governments to halt smelters that violate environmental guidelines, while a plan earlier in the year called for capacity to be shuttered during the peak pollution season over the winter. China’s total smelting capacity last year was about 40 million tons. Continue Reading →

Lawmakers urges U.S. Treasury to reject Aleris sale to China aluminum giant – by Diane Bartz and Lesley Wroughton (Reuters U.S. – June 10, 2017)

More than two dozen U.S. lawmakers have urged U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to reject the proposed sale of U.S. aluminum products maker Aleris Corp (ALSD.PK) to China Zhongwang Holdings Ltd (1333.HK) to protect U.S. security interests.

In a June 9 letter to Mnuchin shared with Reuters, the 27 lawmakers said it would be a “strategic misstep” to allow the $2.33 billion sale to go ahead.

“It is critical that CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States) exercise extreme caution when a foreign investment transaction includes the transfer of military proficiencies and sensitive technology to China,” the lawmakers wrote. Continue Reading →

Chevy’s Anti-Aluminum Ads with the Ford F150 haven’t Helped Sell the Silverado – by Patrick Rall (Torque News – June 7, 2017)

It has been just over a year since Chevrolet rolled out their Silverado ads featuring a new Ford F150 bed being damaged by dropping various objects onto the aluminum surface and in that year, Ford sales have risen while Silverado sales have dropped – showing that the automotive consumer may not favor negative advertising.

Back in June 2016, Chevrolet rolled out a series of commercial for the Silverado which featured their truck parked next to a new Ford F150. In these commercials, “real people” looked on as a load of paver stones was dropped from a frontloader into the bed of each truck.

The Silverado’s steel bed held up to the bricks without only scuffs and dents, while the bed of the F150 saw more severe damage. Of course, the “real people” reacted with great surprise at this and when a large, steel toolbox pushed over the edge of the bedside did significantly more damage to the F150’s aluminum bed, the onlookers were equally stunned. Continue Reading →

America Has a Secret Switch to Make Military Metal – by Joe Deaux (Bloomberg News – June 7, 2017)

Seemingly with the flip of a switch, the U.S. could use an existing technology to produce all the specialized “high-purity” aluminum it needs for defense applications, according to researcher Harbor Intelligence.

In April, the Trump administration opened an investigation into whether an influx of foreign aluminum was a threat to national security. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said at the time that part of the rationale for the probe was to investigate whether domestic manufacturers might be unable to meet the Pentagon’s needs in the event of a war.

U.S. producers would have to spend about $25 million to expand their capacity to meet the military’s needs for so-called high-purity aluminum through a process called fractional crystallization, Harbor Intelligence analyst Tom Leary said Wednesday in an interview. That technology removes impurities from the primary metal and turns it into its purer form, he said. Continue Reading →

Trump ‘Has a Point’ on China’s Cheap Aluminum, Glencore CEO Says – by Jack Farchy, Erik Schatzker and Mark Burton (Bloomberg News – June 1, 2017)

Donald Trump “has a point” in criticizing China’s trade in aluminum and steel as cheap power has effectively been a subsidy to Chinese producers, said Glencore Plc chief Ivan Glasenberg.

Trump should be pragmatic in dealing with China, given that it imports a lot of U.S. goods, said Glasenberg during a Bloomberg Television panel at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

“China was producing coal and selling it to the power stations at a loss,” he said. “Aluminum companies were getting subsidized power.” Continue Reading →

The U.S. challenges China on aluminum — and catches Canada in its dragnet – Editorial (Washington Post – May 31, 2017)

THE UNITED STATES should stand for free trade and, consistent with that policy, exercise its right of redress when other nations try to gain unfair advantage. Fighting back can be tricky, though; Washington has to be careful not to create new problems in the process of dealing with existing ones.

Case in point: The Trump administration recently began an investigation into the national security threat allegedly posed by imports of two metals, steel and aluminum, that are undeniably crucial to the manufacture of military hardware. The chief target here is China, whose vast, bloated government-backed industries are flooding the world market with cheap product, threatening the viability of U.S. producers.

That, in turn, could create not only economic woes for those companies, but also a dangerous level of dependency for U.S. war-fighters. The basic complaint against China — that it is pumping out exports from money-losing plants and propping them up with cheap loans — is sound. Indeed, one of the last acts of the Obama administration was to file a complaint about this at the World Trade Organization. Continue Reading →

Queensland jobs: $13b boost puts mining back on track – by John McCarthy (Brisbane Courier-Mail – May 27, 2017)

THE mining and resources downturn is over and thousands of jobs are coming back to the industry, with an injection of up to $13 billion in new and revived projects.

With the Adani coal project back on track after a State Cabinet agreement was reached late on Friday on a new royalty payment scheme, Queensland can look forward to a number of projects – some of which have ¬already started – in a revival of the industry after five years of the doldrums. There are now concerns in the industry of a skills shortage.

Red River is about to restart production at its Thalanga lead-zinc mine near Charters Towers and managing director Mel Palancian said that would mean about 100 to 120 jobs, mostly for locals. The mine closed in 2012 when its then owners Kagara Zinc collapsed. Continue Reading →

Guinea to Mandate Domestic Refining of Bauxite – by Staff (Aluminum Insider – May 15, 2017)

The president of the Republic of Guinea decreed last week that miners who produce over a certain amount of bauxite ore “will be obliged to build an alumina plant.” President Alpha Condé made the remarks in speech at recent mining conference in Guinea’s capital Conakry.

Condé spoke at last week’s Symposium Mines Guinea, the largest mining event in West Africa. Though the event’s theme was “The Mining Sector: The Key To Transforming The National Economy For The Benefit Of All Actors,” Condé made waves by immediately and publicly objecting to the premise.

“I apologize, I will start by showing that I do not agree with the minister,” opined Condé. “I have already said that mines can not be the lever for the development of Guinea. We are not in control of commodity prices whose prices are set in London, Washington or Montreal.” Continue Reading →

Guinea town’s unrest a cautionary tale for African mining – by Tim Cocks (Reuters U.S. – May 12, 2017)

BOKE, GUINEA – When the frustration of youths in this Guinean mining town finally erupted, they looted shops, pillaged government buildings and smashed up dozens of vehicles, dispersing only when police opened fire.

“It was an immense crowd,” said Lieutenant Souare Abdoul, a fireman who had to shelter in a council building in Boke while young men tore out furniture, emptied a safe, stole computers and scattered hundreds of files across the floor.

“You could see they were angry and they wanted to destroy this place,” he added, walking on a carpet of papers and shattered glass. Only after gendarmes opened fire were the council staff able to escape. Continue Reading →

The midcentury aluminum homes that would have changed U.S. suburbs – by Anthony Paletta ( – May 10, 2017)

A look back at the Alcoa Care-free homes, on their 60th anniversary

“Here is your Dream House Made Real” began the promotional brochure for the Alcoa Care-free Home, an aluminum prototype home designed by Charles Goodman and launched 60 years ago, in 1957.

Ductile metals are not usually the stuff of dreams—unless you’re an aerospace engineer—but Alcoa, a Pittsburgh-based aluminum company, hoped that homes made of their flagship product might find a place in your local cul-de-sac.

They largely did not. That largely seems due to their price tag of $60,000 (just shy of of $438,000 in today’s dollars, and more than twice what was advertised), rather than due to any defects in the design. But the program—and the two dozen homes actually built—are a powerful argument for Charles Goodman’s clever midcentury design. Continue Reading →

How would you like your aluminum? Green or black? – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – May 10, 2017)

LONDON – Aluminum is one of the materials benefiting from the greening of the world’s economy. Lightweight and durable, it has been making steady inroads into the transportation sector in particular and enjoys one of the strongest usage profiles of any industrial metal.

But what promoters such as the Aluminum Association dub “the miracle metal” has a dirty little secret. To produce the stuff requires a lot of electricity and in many parts of the world that electricity is generated by coal, every environmentalist’s bogey fossil fuel.

Aluminum’s split eco-personality, green in its applications, a lot darker in its production, has been exposed by China’s inclusion of the metal in the list of industries targeted for smog-busting production cuts during the winter heating months. Continue Reading →

Alcoa CEO says aluminum producer rejuvenated by split – by Len Boselovic (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – May 11, 2017)

Alcoa CEO Roy C. Harvey told shareholders Wednesday that the aluminum producer’s separation from the company’s downstream businesses in November re-energized the 129-year-old company.

“It gave us an opportunity to rethink everything,” Mr. Harvey said at Alcoa’s shareholder meeting at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. “We’re a start-up. We’re a brand new business,” he said.

Mr. Harvey said the company’s plans to consolidate administrative offices — which includes moving its headquarters back to Pittsburgh from New York later this year — will save money and help employees work more closely together. Continue Reading →

U.S. fires new salvo in escalating aluminium trade dispute – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – May 4, 2017)

LONDON – “This is not a China-phobic program, this has to do with a global problem.”  That was how U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross described the latest investigation into his country’s aluminium imports.

This one has been launched under Section 232(b) of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which lets a president act against imports on national security grounds. It follows hot on the heels of a similar Section 232 probe into U.S. imports of steel.

Although a Section 232 investigation is explicitly not supposed to be a substitute for trade complaints and despite Ross’s assurances it’s not about China, it’s hard to see this latest maneuver as anything other than exactly that. Namely, another turn of the screw on the Chinese authorities to do something about the country’s overcapacity and its exports. Continue Reading →