NON-FERROUS WEEK IN BRIEF: European Commission encourages non-EU countries to file complaints to WTO against Section 232; manganese ore prices rebound; chromium prices fall

Date: Jun 4, 2018

Metal Bulletin rounds up some of the key news and price moves across the global metal markets this week.

Base metals 

Blister copper refining charges (RCs) in China edged down in May as spot tonnages were sought following the recent shutdown of several domestic primary smelters and a continued fall in copper scrap imports.

The European Commission (EC) has encouraged all non-EU countries affected by the “illegal” Section 232 tariffs, imposed by the United States on steel and aluminium imports, to follow its lead and file their own complaints with the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The volatility in global copper stocks this year has benefited trading volumesacross both the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and Shanghai Futures Exchange, while the London Metal Exchange’s inventory has fluctuated widely and dropped to a four-month low this week.

The imposition of tariffs by the United States on imports of steel and aluminium has prompted anger in Mexico, which is the largest buyer of American aluminium and the second-largest buyer of American steel.

Export prices for Brazilian pig iron were unchanged this week, with all production facilities in the country coming to a halt due to the truck drivers’ strike over recent fuel price rises.

Ores and alloys 

Battery-grade lithium carbonate prices have softened week on week due to cheaper material entering the market and because of downstream consumer expectations for lower prices; lithium prices in other regions were unchanged due to sluggish spot market activity.

South32 has agreed to buy a 50% stake in Australian metallurgical coal project Eagle Downs from Aquila Resources, a subsidiary of China Baowu Steel Group.

Chinese vanadium exporters held prices steady last week amid sluggish trading activity, while European ferro-vanadium prices bounced back due to tightening inventories.

Kudumane Manganese Resources (KMR) will start production from its Hotazel mine in South Africa’s Northern Cape from September and the output will be 40% manganese ore with 5% iron content, Gautam Kumar, associate director of Asia Minerals Ltd (AML), confirmed to Metal Bulletin.

The recent rebound in manganese ore prices was partly due to a consumer backlash losing momentum because a recent ore price decline had outpaced that of silico-manganese, market sources told Metal Bulletin.

European spot prices for molybdic oxide have increased so far this week amid higher deals done in Europe and in Asia, while ferro-molybdenum was steady and is set to move up if oxide prices increase again, sources said.

Largo Resources Ltd expected to resume production at its Maracas Menchen vanadium mine in Brazil as early as Thursday May 31 after operations were disrupted by a national truckers’ strike.

Manganese ore miner Tshipi Borwa é Ntle Manganese Mining more than doubled its profit after taxation to ZAR 1.9 billion ($150.65 million) in the twelve months to February 28 2018, its largest shareholder Jupiter Mines has announced.

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