ROUND-UP – FastMarkets top stories from the week ending Oct 7

A round-up of the top FastMarkets stories from the week ending Oct. 7. 

FRIDAY, OCT 7

Base metals apart from aluminium ended the trading week in positive territory on the LME after the September US employment report missed expectations and weighed on the dollar.

JP Morgan reduced its 2016 copper production estimate by 40,000 tonnes to 20.171 million tonnes following mine disruptions in South America and weather-related problems in Australia.

Malaysia Smelting Corp has appointed Dr Patrick Yong as its new CEO on Friday, October 7 after longstanding head Cheong Yong Chua resigned.

Global crude stainless steel production rose 15.1 percent quarter-on-quarter to 11.81 million tonnes in the April-June quarter of this year, according to data released by the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) on Friday, October 7.

Newmont Mining Corp has appointed Andrew Woodley to lead its North America business starting January 2, 2017, the US-based gold and copper producer said on Wednesday, October 5.

THURSDAY, OCT 6 

The US Midwest delivered copper premium slipped to 5.0-5.25 cents per pound over the last week, which was partially attributed to the physical arbitrage window between Comex and LME, market participants said.

Base metals ended LME trading on Thursday, October 6 mixed and in low volumes again while China is away for Golden Week holiday until next Monday.

Former Cliveden and Glencore copper trader Paul Bushell has joined Swiss trading house Bluequest Resources, FastMarkets understands.

Remaining claims by aluminium buyers in an ongoing antitrust lawsuit have been dismissed by the court, according to an order filed Wednesday.

Traders have been delivering against 2016 long-term and fixed contracts for aluminium supply in the US Midwest using an arbitrage opportunity between material stored in South Korea and the US market, FastMarkets understands.

The Philippines’ nickel production is expected to decline this year due to its mining clampdown and heavy rains which hampered mining and shipments earlier this year. But the possibility of Indonesia restarting nickel ore exports threatens to more than negate the Filipino shortfall.

Lead and zinc scrap prices have risen amid dramatic gains in primary metals on the London Metal Exchange, offset slightly by softer consumer demand, mounting inventories and weaker order books.

Arg International AG’s purchase of Noranda Aluminum Holding Corp’s New Madrid, Missouri-based smelter is likely a speculative move that could pay off if aluminium prices on the London Metal Exchange surge, market sources told Metal Bulletin sister title AMM.

Alcoa shareholders have approved the split of the company’s stock and the proportional reduction in the total number of its common shares, the US lightweight materials firm said. 

WEDNESDAY, OCT 5 

Base metals other than aluminium ended LME trading on Wednesday, October 5 in negative territory due to risk-off, a stronger dollar and the absence of Chinese market participants.

Brazilian copper processor Termomecanica has announced its debut in the aluminium market as a provider of products for sectors including refrigeration, automotive, packaging and construction.

Nick Williams, director of nickel marketing at Vale International SA, has left the mining company following the introduction of a restructuring plan for its base metals division aimed at cutting costs, sources told FastMarkets and Metal Bulletin.

Sluggishness in the secondary aluminium alloy market is curbing some consumers’ appetites for smelter-grade scrap despite a reported slowdown in secondary aluminium scrap flows.

Kaiser Aluminum Corp.’s aluminium casthouse in Sherman, Texas, is back online following an approximately 3-month outage, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to AMM Tuesday.

Sherritt International Corp’s Moa nickel-cobalt joint venture in Cuba is shut due to the threat of Hurricane Matthew.

TUESDAY, OCT 4 

The past week has been very subdued for physical markets while Chinese market participants are absent for the Chinese Golden Week holiday. Most of the action has been centred on the US where copper and nickel premiums fell to new lows.

Base metals ended Tuesday LME trading in negative territory, with a stronger dollar weighing, traders said.

Demand for aluminium extrusions in North America jumped in August, increasing nearly 13 percent over the previous month, according to statistics released by the Aluminum Association on Tuesday.

Any revision to the Indonesian ban on exports of nickel ore will have to be well-thought-out so as not to discourage downstream investment, a government official told Metal Bulletin on Tuesday.

OceanaGold is engaging with officials in the Philippines to clarify why the Didipio copper mine was among the 23 mining operations at risk of suspension in an audit of the country’s natural resources sector, the company said.

Japan’s Pan Pacific Copper (PPC) has planned for higher copper production of 283,700 tonnes in the second half of its fiscal year 2016 ending March 2017. 

PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) reported that copper-gold mining operations in the Grasberg open pit have stopped due to a labour disruption, a company official said in an emailed statement to Metal Bulletin on Tuesday.

Commercial production began at Ma’aden Bauxite and Alumina Company’s mine and refinery on Saturday October 1.

The US International Trade Commission was “receptive” to delegates’ concerns of aluminium overcapacity and global competitiveness, a top O’Neal Industries Inc executive said, indicating that steps to return the industry to a healthy balance would need to be gradual.

Horsehead Holding LLC has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as a private company after completing its reorganisation.

MONDAY, OCT 3 

China’s dominance in aluminium production is a direct threat both upstream and downstream aluminium producers, US Senator Charles Schumer from New York said in testimony submitted to the International Trade Commission (ITC). 

Revolution Aluminum has been hit with another lawsuit alleging a contractual violation – this time coming from a consultancy firm hired by the company to develop its $2.4 billion aluminium plant.

Copper has been delivered into LME-registered warehouses in Liverpool for the first time in more than three years.

Mitsui Kinzoku, Japan’s largest zinc producer, expects to boost zinc output by 6.7 percent in the second half of 2016, it said on Monday.

Nrystar has lowered its production guidance for 2016 due to a number of unplanned, one-off production outages and operational issues in the third quarter of 2016.

Will Adams

About Will Adams

William Adams has been involved in the metals markets since 1982 – he has experience in many areas of the market from researching to trading and has worked in London, New York and Tokyo.