Archive | Steel and Stainless Steel Industries

Coal exports disrupted in cyclone-hit Australia as floodwaters rise – by Jamie Freed and Tom Westbrook (Reuters U.S. – April 3, 2017)

SYDNEY – Damage to rail lines in cyclone-hit northeast Australia is set to disrupt exports of the steel-making material from the world’s largest coking coal region, underpinning prices and raising the prospect of major producers declaring force majeure.

The extent of the damage, which will hit coal mines operated by BHP Billiton Ltd and Glencore PLC, was revealed in the wake of deadly Cyclone Debbie, which struck last week and left a disaster zone stretching 1,000 km (600 miles). Four people have died in floods in Queensland and New South Wales states, with another three missing.

Coal hauler Aurizon Holdings said on Monday it would take up to five weeks to repair parts of its network of rail lines that connects mines to ports in Queensland, with alternative routes being considered for coal transported on the worst-affected Goonyella line. Continue Reading →

New mines bank on steel industry’s need for metallurgical coal – by Brian Bowling (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review – March 12, 2017)

Contractors for Corsa Coal Corp. are busy digging a hole larger than a football field in Somerset County. Their goal is the Middle Kittanning seam — buried about 120 feet deep.

The Canonsburg-based company is on schedule to open its Acosta Deep Mine in May, with a plan for at least 70 miners to remove about three miles of metallurgical-quality coal — used in steelmaking — over the next decade. Starting a new mine in an era when many are shutting down feels good, said Robert Bottegal, Corsa’s general manager for engineering.

“There will be some more jobs in the area, which is great,” Bottegal said. The number of bituminous coal mines operating in the United States plummeted from 1,010 in 2001 to 431 in 2015, according to the U.S. Continue Reading →

In China’s rustbelt towns, displaced coal, steel workers lose hope and voice – by Sue-Lin Wong (Reuters U.S. – March 5, 2017)

SHUANGYASHAN, CHINA – After protests by unpaid coal miners made headlines around the world last year as China’s parliament was meeting, a $15 billion assistance fund offered by the ruling Communist Party became a symbol of the government’s need to ensure social stability.

As the National People’s Congress gathers again a year on, the number of protests has dropped sharply and authorities are promising to create more jobs for workers in China’s northeastern belt, where the employment outlook is more grim than in many other parts of the country.

China is pledging to cut further excess and inefficient capacity in its mining sector and “smokestack” industries this year as part of an effort to upgrade its economy and reduce pollution, but the move threatens to throw millions more out of work. Continue Reading →

Nippon Steel agrees with Glencore, Teck on 43 percent rise in first quarter coking coal – by Yuka Obayashi (Reuters U.S. – December 13, 2016)

TOKYO – Japan’s biggest steelmaker Nippon Steel said on Tuesday it has agreed with Glencore Plc and Teck Resources Ltd on a coking coal price for first quarter of 2017 supplies that is 43 percent higher than the previous quarter.

The companies agreed on a price of $285 a ton for supplies of Australia’s premium hard coking coal for the January-March quarter next year, a Nippon Steel spokeswoman said, without giving any details.

If other international steelmakers follow this price, it would be the highest industry quarterly benchmark since the fourth quarter of 2011. Continue Reading →

Tom Dodds’ new best friends dabble in the Ring of Fire – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – November 11, 2016)

Al Coutts, president of Noront Resources, swooped into Sault Ste.Marie, Nov. 4, for a tour of the city, courtesy of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation.

It’s not known if this is the start of a beautiful friendship with the Ring of Fire, but the nickel and chromite mine developer decided to tweet a photo of Coutts and his chief development officer, Steve Flewelling, with economic development chief executive Tom Dodds on the city‘s waterfront.

“He came out, we gave him a tour of the town,” said Dodds, “we showed him possible areas…of industrial land that would make sense to them. “We’re walking into city hall and he says, let’s take a picture. I said, if you’re feeling inclined to publicize that you’re here, far be it for me to say no. “

Dodds cautioned that the visit was very exploratory and doesn’t want to build unrealistic expectations that the Toronto-based mine developer is in a position to target the Sault for a chromite processing operation. Continue Reading →

U.S. coking coal miners seen slow to respond to price rally – by Nicole Mordant (Reuters U.S. – November 2, 2016)

U.S. miners of steel-making coal will be slow to lift output, even with prices tripling so far this year, as they need to renew operations shuttered during a five-year price collapse that pushed many into bankruptcy court, industry watchers say.

Delays in bringing on new supplies of steel-making coal, also known as metallurgical or coking coal, are expected to help keep global prices higher for longer. With operating costs higher than their Australian peers, U.S. miners typically bring supply online when prices rise and are cut back when they fall.

“Given how decimated the whole industry has gotten over the last two to three years, there is just not a lot of ready-use production that could come online,” said Jeremy Sussman, analyst at Clarksons Platou Securities in New York. Continue Reading →

Surge in price of steelmaking coal puts spark of life in northeast B.C. mines – by Derrick Penner (Vancouver Sun – November 1, 2016)

In the weeks since Conuma Coal Resources Ltd. bought Walter Energy Canada Holding Inc.’s northeast B.C. mines out of bankruptcy in September, the fledgling miner has reopened one mine and shipped its first trainload of coal.

It wasn’t what the company was expecting to do, but it jumped into action as prices rose, then surged, for coal used in steel making. Prices recently hit US$200 a tonne for fourth-quarter delivery, up from US$92 in the third quarter and just US$81 in the first quarter of 2016.

“We just feel so fortunate,” said Ken McCoy, the CEO of Conuma’s parent company, ERP Compliant Fuels of West Virginia. It wasn’t what the company had planned when it bought the mines. “Our intention was to buy these properties and sit on them, because the market just wasn’t there,” McCoy said. Continue Reading →

Bedrock Industries reaches deal to buy U.S. Steel Canada (CBC News Hamilton – November 1, 2016)

American Company Bedrock Industries Group has reached a deal to buy beleaguered U.S. Steel Canada, U.S. Steel announced today. The sale is subject to court approvals.

In a statement, provincial minister of finance Charles Sousa called the move an important step towards the former Stelco’s restructuring that will “save jobs, protect pensions and assist in providing post-employment benefits for active and retired employees at USSC’s Hamilton and Lake Erie facilities.”

The agreement comes as the latest in a lengthy restructuring and court process that continues to roll on — and one that is certainly not complete. While the province has a rosy outlook about the news, the steelworker’s union has a decidedly bleaker one. Continue Reading →

Essar Global teams up with Cargill in bid for U.S. Steel Canada – by Greg Keenan and Andrew Willis (Globe and Mail – October 21, 2016)

The former parent company of Essar Steel Algoma Inc. is teaming up with agriculture and industrial giant Cargill Inc. to renew its bid to buy U.S. Steel Canada Inc., sources familiar with the companies’ plans say.

Essar Global, which made a public bid for U.S. Steel Canada in August, is trying to jump ahead of Bedrock Industries LP, which has been anointed by the Ontario government as the favoured bidder to take the troubled steel company out of protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.

The August bid for U.S. Steel Canada, formerly known as Stelco Inc., was rejected by the company and the court-appointed monitor overseeing the restructuring. Sources familiar with the new bid say it is also unlikely to succeed, as Bedrock is offering better terms and deep-pocketed Cargill’s participation is limited to a loan. Continue Reading →

China’s steelmakers the relative winners in coking coal surge – by Clyde Russell (Daily Mail/Reuters – October 21, 2016)

LONDON, Oct 21 (Reuters) – While no steel maker will be happy with the explosion in coking coal prices, Chinese mills are the best placed to deal with the impact, given they are nowhere near as exposed to spot prices as competitors in the rest of Asia and Europe.

The spot price of premium hard coking coal <_.PHCC-AUSSI> in Australia, which dominates global exports, surged to $242.90 a tonne on Oct. 20, taking the rally so far this year to a staggering 210 percent.

While only a small percentage of coking coal cargoes are actually sold at the spot price, the quarterly contract price was recently settled above $200 a tonne and customers of Australia’s BHP-Mitsubishi Alliance, the world’s largest coking coal exporter, will be paying prices linked to monthly indexes. Continue Reading →

Stronger stainless steel output seen sustaining nickel prices – by Pratima Desai (Reuters U.S. – October 12, 2016)

LONDON, Oct 12 Nickel’s rally is expected to be sustained by robust demand from China’s stainless steel mills, a significant factor behind recent price gains which many think are mainly due to worries about supplies from the Philippines.

Stainless steel contains nickel and chromium which slows the rate of corrosion significantly. Normal, or carbon, steel without nickel or chromium rusts easily. It is used in infrastructure such as bridges and structural beams, household items such as cutlery, drums for washing machines and kitchen sinks. Oil pipelines and medical equipment are also made out of stainless steel.

Demand has been growing due to Chinese infrastructure investment and higher living standards mean stronger consumer demand for domestic goods made out of stainless steel. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Stainless steel surge impacts nickel and ferro-chrome – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – October 11, 2016)

LONDON, Oct 11 Global steel demand will rise by a meagre 0.2 percent this year, according to the World Steel Association (WSA). Next year won’t be much better with a forecast of just 0.5 percent growth. But it could have been worse. The WSA has upped its forecasts from April, when it was expecting demand to fall by 0.8 percent this year.

The improvement is all about China, where production and demand have been lifted by the government’s latest stimulus package, another push of the infrastructure and construction buttons. Within the steel universe, however, one sector is faring much better.

Stainless steel production rebounded strongly in the first half of this year, thanks again to China. And that has implications for two of the metallic inputs into the stainless production process, nickel and ferro-chrome. Continue Reading →

Rust Never Sleeps: Who killed Stelco? – by Bruce Livesey and Nicole Mercury (Globe and Mail – September 29, 2016)

The steelmaker’s corrosion began decades ago. But it took the combined efforts of Bay Street, Ottawa and U.S. Steel to finish it off

As the executives gave their spiel, Tony Clement’s blood began to boil. It was a cold Ottawa morning in the winter of 2009, and Clement was sitting in a boardroom on the 11th floor of the C.D. Howe Building, a couple of blocks from Parliament Hill. As the Harper government’s newly minted minister of industry, Clement was listening to a couple of managers from U.S. Steel Corp. indicate that they had no intention of upholding their end of a deal with Ottawa, made only two years earlier, that allowed U.S. Steel to take over Stelco, Canada’s iconic steelmaker.

The visiting executives said that brutal conditions in their business gave them no choice but to renege on their commitments to maintain Stelco in robust health.

What ticked off Clement was their cockiness. “I felt they were belligerent. They were waltzing into the office and dictating terms and not looking for any kind of mutually acceptable halfway point,” he recalls. “So I didn’t like their attitude. I didn’t like the way they were treating Canadian workers. I didn’t like the way they were treating our agreement with them.” Continue Reading →

U.S. Steel Canada receives $500-million lifeline – by Greg Keenan (Globe and Mail – September 22, 2016)

A U.S. metals and mining company is offering to invest about $500-million to purchase U.S. Steel Canada Inc. and keep the troubled steel maker operating. Bedrock Industries LP has emerged from among several contenders as the Ontario government’s preferred candidate to complete the restructuring of U.S. Steel Canada, which is now into its third year.

Miami-based Bedrock is prepared to restructure the company with a cash infusion, a pension contribution and payments to the province of Ontario and U.S. Steel Canada’s former parent, United States Steel Corp., said sources familiar with a deal reached between the province and Bedrock.

The deal is supported by the national office of the United Steelworkers union (USW) and gained qualified support from other stakeholders that have participated in the company’s saga of protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. Continue Reading →

Coking coal bubble to deflate, unlikely to burst – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – September 13, 2016)

LAUNCESTON, AUSTRALIA – When the price of a commodity rises by 117 percent in a mere 15 weeks, it’s generally a sign that something is amiss in the market, and coking coal’s recent stellar run is no exception to this rule. The spot price of Australian premium hard coking coal has surged from $83.40 a ton on May 31 to $180.90 on Sept. 9.

So far this year, the price of the fuel used mainly to make steel has leapt by 131 percent, making it the best performer among significant commodities. As with any price surge, there are solid reasons for a rally, but the gains have now reached a point where they have entered the realms of silliness.

Before looking at the reasons why coking coal has rallied so strongly, and why the gains will start to reverse, it’s worth noting that there are several prices for the fuel. Continue Reading →