Global aluminium markets to see surplus in 2013

The global aluminium market is likely to see a larger surplus of 202,000 tonnes in 2013, up more than a fifth from this year, as rapid supply growth from China, the Middle East and India are expected to continue, Japanese trading house Marubeni Corp said. Marubeni expects term aluminium premiums, the amount Japanese buyers pay above LME cash prices, to range from $200 to $300 a tonne in 2013 and $150 to $300 in 2014, compared with the range of $112 to $255 in 2012. Marubeni expects the LME aluminium price to rise gradually throughout 2013, with the median price rising to $2,450 per tonne in the fourth quarter from $2,100 in the first. It now stands at around $2,065. Meanwhile, Japan's aluminium premiums for January-March shipments were mostly set at $240 to $245 per tonne, down from a record in the current quarter, reflecting easing demand as the worlds third largest economy slips into recession, three sources directly involved in the talks said. Japan is Asia's biggest importer of the metal and the fee sets the benchmark for the region. Premiums are paid over the benchmark London Metal Exchange (LME) cash price to secure physical metal. Despite the fall, premiums remain lofty. They are more than double this year's first quarter terms of $112 and down just 6 percent from a record $254 to $255 for the current quarter. They have been inflated mainly because of large stocks locked up by banks in financing deals, and behind long queues at warehouses, which make it difficult for manufacturers to access supplies. A fall in the fee for buyers in Japan is the first in more than a year. Demand has deteriorated in the country's domestic auto and electronics sectors, while its exports have been hit by a global growth slowdown and a territorial dispute with China. "Some deals were set at $242 and $240," a tonne, in addition to $244, one of the sources said, on condition of anonymity. "Volume-wise, deals that settled at $245 should be fewer than others.”

  Rusal to boost output at Guinea bauxite project

Rusal, the world's largest aluminium producer, and the government of Guinea have signed a plan to develop the Dian-Dian bauxite deposit which will involve building an alumina refinery and gradually increasing ore output. Hong-Kong-listed Rusal owns the rights to develop Dian-Dian, the world's largest bauxite deposit located in Guinea, West Africa, which it plans to exploit in several stages, the company said. During the first stage, the company will develop a bauxite mine with a capacity of 3 million tonnes per year by 2015, potentially lifting output to 6 million tonnes per year by 2019. An alumina refinery plant with the capacity of 1.2 million tonnes per year is expected to be built in the next six years, under the plan. Its capacity could hit 2.4 million tonnes and bauxite production at Dian-Dian could grow to 12 million tonnes per year, with the exact output growth depending on the global economic situation and Rusal's needs, the company said. "The mutually beneficial nature of our cooperation will improve the investment climate in the Republic of Guinea and raise the competitiveness of Rusal as a leader of the global aluminum industry and one of the largest investors in this African country," First Deputy CEO Vladislav Soloviev said in a statement. Rusal, controlled by billionaire Oleg Deripaska, accounted for 9 percent of global aluminium and alumina production in 2011. The aluminium major markets and sells its products to Europe, North America and South East Asia.

  Japan copper-cable shipments rise for first in three months

Japan's copper wire and cable shipments rose 3.1 percent in November, gaining for the first time in three months as construction demand increased, an industry group said. Shipments totaled 62,300 tonnes last month, compared with 60,429 tonnes a year earlier, the Japanese Electric Wire & Cable Makers' Association said. They totaled 60,046 tonnes in October, down 0.7 percent from a year earlier. A pick-up in shipments to construction-related and export industries outweighed a slowdown in the auto and electric- machinery industries, said Keiichi Ohki, an official at the association's research department. This should continue in coming months. The LDP and coalition partner Komeito have agreed to pass a supplementary budget possibly worth more than 10 trillion yen ($119 billion). The Bank of Japan would probably increase monetary stimulus after a two-day policy meeting, 17 of the 21 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg estimated.

  Peru to double copper output in two years

Peru will nearly double its copper output in the next two years and will not give up on a $5 billion project by Newmont Mining that has stalled due to community opposition, its mines and energy minister said. Jorge Merino told Reuters the government is looking to ease the process of awarding permits for mining projects while trying to mediate agreements between companies and locals. Peru, which has vast mineral resources, is the world's second-largest producer of copper and sixth of gold, but many Andean communities suffer from widespread poverty and worry mining projects will generate pollution but little economic benefit. The administration of President Ollanta Humala said in August it would essentially stop trying to overcome local opposition to U.S.-based Newmont's Conga gold project in the northern region of Cajamarca - nearly conceding defeat in a protracted political battle. Newmont has said it was temporarily suspending work on the Conga mine while it builds community water reservoirs and seeks local support for the project. "Conga must go forward," Merino said. "We don't have the luxury to lose an investment that big." Mineral shipments make up about 60 percent of Peru's export earnings. Tensions over the spoils of natural resources have threatened to derail some $53 billion in investments over the next decade in the country, South America's fastest-growing economy. But Merino said that many plans are going forward - such as Xstrata Copper's $1.47 billion Antapaccay mine, HudBay Mineral's $1.5 billion Constancia project and the expansion of Freeport McMoran's Cerro Verde copper mine. Southern Copper is also working on a revised environmental plan for its $1 billion Tia Maria project. He said new projects slated to come online through 2014 will allow the Andean nation to churn out an extra 1 million tonnes of copper per year - on top of the 1.3 million it produces now. "They'll be good years," he said, adding that Peru could produce more than 5 million tonnes of copper by 2030. That would put in the same ballpark as the current output of global leader Chile.

  ENRC Holders back $550 mn deal to buy Gertler Congo assets

Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. shareholders backed a $550 million deal to buy out Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler from a company holding interests in copper and cobalt licenses in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Shareholders at a London meeting recently voted 99.2 percent in favor of the cash bid for 49.5 percent of Camrose Resources Ltd., which is indirectly owned by a Gertler family trust, the company said in a statement. ENRC, which produces ferroalloys and iron ore as well as copper, bought its 50.5 percent stake in Camrose from Gertler, 39, for $175 million in 2010. ENRC said Dec. 7 that the latest deal will simplify its structure and create cost savings across its operations in the region. The Camrose assets produce about 100,000 metric tons of copper annually and estimated 2013 capital expenditure is about $300 million. Camrose lost $14.8 million in the six months through June 30 and had gross assets of $326 million at that date, according to ENRC. Camrose holds about 64 percent of Vancouver-based mining company Africo Resources Ltd., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

  Norilsk to pay up to $9 bln in 3-yr dividends

Russian nickel and palladium giant Norilsk Nickel may pay up to $9 billion in dividends for 2012-2014 with further payouts equal to 50 percent of its core earnings, Norilsk shareholder RUSAL said. The dividend pledge is part of a peace deal reached this month between feuding billionaire shareholders Vladimir Potanin and RUSAL owner Oleg Deripaska. RUSAL said in a statement that under the deal Norilsk is expected to declare dividends in respect of 2012, 2013 and 2014 in the amount of $2 billion, $3 billion and $3 billion respectively. Such dividends shall be increased by $1 billion payable in connection with Norilsk Nickel's proposed disposal of foreign or non-core energy assets. The dividends in respect of 2015 and subsequent years shall be equal to 50 percent of EBITDA (Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation), RUSAL said.

Nalco to cut more capacity on coal prices

State-owned aluminium maker National Aluminium Co Ltd (Nalco), which cut up to eight per cent capacity last year, will shut more over the next fortnight. Since the prices of imported and e-auctioned coal are unviable, the company does not have option but to shut down more capacities. Aluminium requires huge quantities of power, generated by burning coal. Close to 12 per cent of Nalco's coal requirement is met through imports and e-auction and the rest is supplied by state-run miner Coal India Ltd. The London Metal Exchange (LME) rates of aluminium have been hovering at around $2,000 (Rs 1.09 lakh) a tonne for a couple of years and nearly 60-70 per cent of aluminium production in the world is at a loss at this price. This is the reason a lot of companies have partly shut down their capacities and so has Nalco. In September 2011, the company had shut 90 pots but restarted 30 pots by March. So, those 60 pots remain shut even today. In percentage terms, it's seven-eight per cent. The company is considering putting some more pots out of service to make it 11-12 percent. It would continue production to the extent of coal available from Coal India and avoid using imported or e-auctioned coal. So, the top line can increase without adding much to the profits. The company has also decided to continue production till coal from linkage is available and not with the help of the imported coal or the e-auctioned coal because the cost of power generation from these two sources comes to Rs 5.5 per unit, which is unsustainable. So, some additional pots are likely to be taken off the line in 10 days. This will leave Nalco with full cost recovery in the smelter. Nalco's profits fell sharply in the quarter ended September 30, because of the higher power costs. It hopes to correct the problem in the current quarter and expects to post better results.

  TC /RC rate to rise in 2013

Global copper ore treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) for annual contracts are likely to rise in 2013 but talks about the New Year deals are making slow progress, Europe's biggest copper smelter Aurubis said. The various TC/RC targets of smelters and mines are moving within a range of $70-$80 a tonne and 7-8 cents a lb, Aurubis said in a market report. This would be up from 2012 annual TC/RCs of $63.50 a tonne and 6.35 cents a lb. TC/RCs are paid by miners to smelters like Aurubis to refine concentrate into metal and are an important part of the global copper industry's income. The German company would benefit from higher charges. Very little is happening in the negotiations for yearly contracts, Aurubis said, adding that the spot TC/RC market is also very quiet because of the approaching Christmas holidays. Prospects for rising global production of copper concentrate in 2013 coupled with the high spot market for TC/RCs mean a large increase is expected in the 2013 annual fees, an Aurubis spokesman added. There are mining projects which will increase global concentrate supplies in the New Year. When more concentrate is produced, mines and traders have to compete to gain access to smelter capacity. Production at the new Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia is set to enter the global market in 2013 while Zambia's Konkola copper mine is also being expanded, he said. The spot market for TC/RCs is firm and spot November deals between smelters and mines were made at around $80 a tonne and 8 cents a lb, Aurubis said. This compares with $70 a tonne and 7 cents a lb Aurubis reported in October, up from $63.5/6.35 cents earlier in the summer. Hardly any spot deals were reported in December so the current spot level is difficult to assess, which makes the talks about annual charges more difficult, the spokesman said. Spot TC/RCs are firm partly because of high mine production as rapid wage settlements in several mines prevented strikes, he said.
Japan's biggest copper smelter Pan Pacific Copper and a major global miner were tipped to settle 2013 annual contracts recently in the range of $70 to $79 a tonne and 7 to 7.9 cents a lb. Earlier in December, China's copper smelters lowered their expectations for 2013 TC/RCS to $70-$75 and 7-7.5 cents a lb, from $80 a tonne and 8 cents a lb. On Dec. 13, Aurubis reported a 4 percent rise in full-year earnings before taxes, buoyed by higher sales and TCRCs despite the poor economic climate.

GMDC-Nalco to start construction in April 2013

Gujarat Mineral Development Corp Ltd (GMDC) and National Aluminium Co Ltd (Nalco), the two state run firms are expected to begin construction of their Rs 15,000-crore aluminium plant joint venture in Gujarat's Kutch in four months. The companies have signed a primary agreement to value-add bauxite and then, a detailed agreement was prepared and sent to Nalco, according to V S Gadhvi, managing director of GMDC. GMDC is expecting Nalco to reply by mid-January and with all other state approvals, construction work is expected to begin at the earliest by April, Gadhvi said in a report. The project was first envisaged in 2010 when GMDC floated tenders to find partners. But because of the lack of response from companies, it had to delay the deadline twice. GMDC chose Nalco as its partner in November 2011. The company had blamed delays in evaluating proposals and some “administrative” issues as the reason for the slow progress of the project. A year after the joint venture was agreed, the two are yet to close the final agreements and start the plant construction. According to an official close to the project, GMDC needs the state government's approvals for the project that has also contributed to the delays. The details of the project are yet to be worked out by the two companies. GMDC floated the tender to find a partner for the plant, saying the company would supply bauxite from its mines and the partner should invest money and build the plant. However, now, the bauxite miner is considering picking up a 26 per cent stake in the capital expenditure. A one-million-tonne aluminium smelter and a 500,00-tonne alumina refinery are being planned at the Kutch site. “Our equity portion in the plant is yet to be decided but normally, we look at a maximum of 26 per cent stake and the rest with the partnering company,” Gadhvi said. At 26 per cent, GMDC's equity investment in the plant comes close to Rs 4,000 crore. The chairman said the company was cash-rich and could fund this money from its internal accruals, if needed. “The money is not required in one go, and over a period of two-three years, we can invest this money. We can also borrow some money, if required,” he added.

Vale Q4 loss expected on tax, nickel, aluminum write downs

Brazil's Vale SA , the world's No. 2 mining company, is likely to report a fourth-quarter loss after writing down the value of nickel and aluminum assets and settling Brazilian and Swiss tax disputes, analysts said. The loss would be its first in a decade. Recently, the company said it would take an impairment charge of $4.2 billion on its Onça Puma nickel mine in Brazil's Amazon state of Para as well as a write-down on its 22 percent stake in Norwegian aluminum company Norsk Hydro ASA. Combined with $448 million in charges it announced on to settle Swiss and Brazilian tax disputes, fourth-quarter write downs will total $4.65 billion, an amount 44 percent greater than its average profit of $3.22 billion in the previous four quarters. More charges could be added before Vale's planned earnings announcement on February 27, the Rio de Janeiro-based company said. "Expect a loss, but lots of one-off charges," Edmo Chagas, Antonio Heluany and Gregory Goldfinger, analysts with BTG Pactual in Rio de Janeiro wrote in a report. "We believe the fourth quarter will be a mixed bag as these non-recurring items may cloud the reading." Vale's last reported red ink came in the third quarter of 2003, when it recorded a $150.3 million loss. Citigroup SA analysts including Alexandro Hacking and Thiago Ojeda also said the charges will hurt the quarterly profit, though the write downs for Onça Puma and Norsk Hydro will help the company clean up its balance sheet. "These losses are already reflected in the share price," Citigroup report said. "The revision will not have an impact on the company's cash flow but it will negatively affect profit in the fourth quarter." Vale's preferred shares, its most traded stock, fell 2.1 percent to 39.95 reais on Sao Paulo's BM&FBovespa exchange, more than the 1 percent drop in the exchange's benchmark index. With iron ore, Vale's main product, trading now at about $135 a tonne, the company's shares have rebounded from a low of 30.92 reais in August. Shortly afterward, iron or shipped to $86.90 a tonne, its weakest since 2009.

Escondida copper mine workers reject early wage offer

Workers at the world's biggest copper mine, Chile's Escondida, have rejected an early pay offer made by mine controller BHP Billiton, a union leader said. The risk of a strike appears remote, however, because it is illegal to go on strike in Chile before official pay talks have begun. Collective contract negotiations at Escondida are due to take place after the current contract expires in June 2013. "Workers rejected the company's proposal as they considered it insufficient," union secretary Marcelo Tapia told Reuters. "This was an invitation by the company to have early collective negotiations, which should actually happen in July 2013. We're going to officially inform them on Dec. 28 of workers' rejection of their proposal," he added. BHP was not immediately available to comment. No details were available on the company's proposal or the union's demands. If no early wage offer is accepted, workers and the company will sit down for wage talks as scheduled next year. Escondida's union stunned the copper market last year by staging a two-week strike, sending the mine's output tumbling and raising the specter of an increase in labor action. BHP and Rio Tinto, which owns 30 percent of the mine, have approved plans for a $4.5 billion expansion of Escondida to boost output. Escondida's third-quarter output surged 72.4 percent from a year earlier to 253,800 tonnes, boosted by better ore grades and a low base of comparison from the year-ago quarter. Output in the January-September period was 787,000 tonnes, up 31.6 percent from a year earlier. Earlier this month, workers at the giant Chuquicamata mine of Chile's state-run copper firm Codelco accepted a wage offer with the company.

Antofagasta suspends its Chilean Antucoya copper mine

Chilean miner Antofagasta has halted development at its $1.7 billion copper mine Antucoya, as it reviews escalating costs of the project. Antucoya, which was forecast to produce 80,000 tonnes of copper cathodes a year, is one of the most capital intensive projects in the industry. The cost of the mine was estimated at $1.7 billion by the time construction work was due to finish in 2014. The cost per tonne of annual production would have been over $21,000, analysts previously estimated. The company remains concerned about the level of capital and operating costs in the industry, said Diego Hernandez, Antofagasta's chief executive, in a statement. The company believes that Antucoya's decision to temporarily suspend and review the project reflects an appropriate and measured approach to addressing these concerns, added Hernandez, who took the helm at Antofagasta earlier this year. Antofagasta approved the project last year, selling a 30 percent stake to Japanese trading house Marubeni Corp to help shoulder the burden of the costs. Decisions on the suspension and review were made by the Antucoya council, with representatives from both companies. Chile, which produces roughly a third of the world's copper, is struggling with dwindling ore grades in many of its ageing deposits. Like many of its peers fighting over a limited pool of skilled workers and equipment, Antofagasta also has to battle the rising cost of building projects from scratch. Antucoya is the same size and uses the same technology as the company's existing El Tesoro mine, but will cost over $1 billion more to develop just a decade later. The company said notices of termination for the project's construction contracts were being issued immediately.

Polish utilities, KGHM extend draft deal to fund nuclear plant

Poland's top three utilities and copper miner KGHM have given themselves until the end of March 2013 to sign a deal to share the cost of constructing the country's first nuclear power station, the companies said. In September they signed a letter of intent, which they have now extended, to share the estimated 30 billion zlotys ($9.75 billion) to 50 billion zlotys cost of building the station. Poland wants to develop nuclear power to reduce its dependence on highly polluting coal, but top utility PGE , which is managing the project, cannot fund the project alone. The four firms - which include Tauron and Enea - are state-controlled. The largest eastern member of the European Union aims to launch a 3 gigawatt nuclear plant by 2023 and double that capacity by 2030.

Aluminium demand in Auto industry set to Double

Demand for aluminium in the auto industry is expected to more than double by 2025 as manufacturers seek lightweight alternatives to steel in an effort to meet ever tightening fuel efficiency regulations. More and more auto makers are beginning the transition away from heavy steel components and moving toward an increased use of aluminium according to Mr Randall Scheps director of automotive marketing Alcoa. Mr Scheps said that as markets around the world tighten fuel standards, carmakers are forced to react. He said, “We have every car maker calling us, wanting to increase their aluminium content, wanting to start new R&D projects about how they can convert bodies from steel to aluminium, wanting to convert hoods and doors from steel to aluminium.” Mr Scheps expects this transition to more than double the auto industry's overall rate of aluminium consumption from 11.5 million tons in 2011 to a predicted 24.8 million tons by 2025 when the average car will incorporate 250kg of aluminium compared to the 155kg in today's vehicles.

VAL unlikely to start Odisha operation soon

Country's largest aluminium maker Vedanta Aluminium (VAL) is unlikely to start operation at its Lanjigarh unit in the near future as it is yet to secure bauxite supply to run the plant. "It is very difficult to give a timeline. Unless we get secured source of supply of raw material, we will not be able to reopen the plant," said, Mukesh Kumar, President of Vedanta Aluminium in a report. He also said there was no formal communication from the Odisha government regarding supply of bauxite. Vedanta Aluminium shut down its one million tonne Lanjigarh refinery unit a fortnight ago, due to shortage of bauxite. The unit requires 10,000 tonnes of bauxite per day to run at full capacity. Kumar said the company was not able to source the bauxite from other states. Earlier, the company sourced bauxites from Gujarat, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. However, after the halting of operation in mines in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, the plant was not able to source raw material from other states. Talking about possible layoffs at the plant, Kumar said there would be some layoffs due to the shutting down.
Meanwhile, the company is considering laying off employees within two months VAL, a unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources, has about 550 employees. It closed down the 1-million-tonne per year refinery exactly two weeks ago due to a shortage of bauxite, the key raw material used to produce alumina. India, the world's fifth-biggest bauxite producer, has been limiting the issue of bauxite leases mainly because of local protests over land acquisition. About 75 employees, including engineers and executives, have already left the refinery, at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, about 450 kilometres from state capital Bhubaneswar, in the past three months, while many more are scouting for opportunities. The Lanjigarh plant has faced bauxite shortages since its commissioning in August 2007, after a supply arrangement with a state agency to source from the nearby Niyamgiri hills ran afoul with the federal environment and forest ministry and got mired in litigation. The refinery requires 10,000 tonnes of bauxite a day to operate at full capacity. Vedanta says the plant is designed for local bauxite and only this can ensure its sustainability.

OZ Minerals sees drop in 2012 earnings

OZ Minerals Ltd., Australia's third- biggest copper producer, said profit will drop more than 15 percent this year, with higher costs and lower production continuing into next year. The expected operating result for the full year ending 31 December 2012 will be less than that of the corresponding previous period by more than 15 percent, the Melbourne-based company said in a statement. OZ Minerals is estimated to book a$198 million ($207.4 million) in operating profit this year, based on the average of 11 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg, which would show a 44 percent decline from 2011. Copper output will drop to between 90,000 metric tonnes and 100,000 tonnes next year from a range of 100,000 tonnes to 110,000 tonnes this year. Costs will increase further due to underground mining and as the company expects to dig harder material at its open pit mine. For this year, the company said net income will be within 5 to 10 percent of the consensus estimate of a$156 million. OZ Minerals is scheduled to report earnings in February. OZ Minerals shares fell 9.8 percent in Sydney recently, the most in almost four years, on speculation it will miss its production targets due to issues at its main Prominent Hill mine in South Australia. The company denied it has production issues and reiterated it will meet its output target range at a cash cost of between $1.10 and $1.20 a pound.

Daily aluminium production climbs in November

Daily global aluminium output rose in November for the second month in a row, figures from the International Aluminium Institute (IAI) showed, with output expected to grow in coming months as high premiums keep smelters profitable. Daily production worldwide rose to 67,600 tonnes in November from 67,400 tonnes in October, while Chinese output was unchanged at 55,400 tonnes, the IAI figures showed. Aluminium prices have remained soft this year as a slowing global economy hits demand for the metal used in packaging and transport, putting pressure on smelter margins. But with record level physical premiums for aluminium of more than $200 per tonne paid over the London Metal Exchange (LME) cash price, smelters have a cash incentive to keep producing. "The expectation is that production growth will continue to rise. There hasn't been any incentive to cut back production because of the high premiums that are keeping smelters profitable," said Robin Bhar, analyst at Societe Generale. "If you add good underlying demand on the basis of a strengthening global economy next year and persistent demand for financing deals then I think production will continue to grow." Output in China, the world's largest producer of the light metal, includes some of the highest-cost smelters in the world but production cutbacks have been slow to emerge due to financial assistance in the form of power subsidies. Benchmark aluminium on the London Metal Exchange fell to a three-year low of $1,827.25 in mid August. It is trading up just over 2 percent in the year to date. Rising production has done little to bring down high stock levels in LME-registered warehouses, where inventories are at a record high of more than 5 million tonnes.
The rising dominance of financing deals, which tie up stockpiles of the metal, along with London Metal Exchange (LME) regulations that allow warehouse operators to release only a small fraction of their inventories each day, have created an artificial tightness which has helped physical premiums to skyrocket to record highs. "With the contango being as wide as it is, and with yields on financing deals at 5-6 percent, these are attractive levels and we are likely to see smelters continue to produce more than needed despite it being an oversupplied market," Bhar said. Contango describes a market in which spot prices sell at a discount to futures. Cash aluminium traded at a discount of $35.70 a tonne to the benchmark three-month price recently. It traded in a backwardation recently, where cash aluminium hit a premium of $47 a tonne over the three-month price.

World copper market in deficit

The world refined copper market was in a 594,000 tonne deficit from January to September, compared with a deficit of 74,000 tonnes in the same period a year ago, figures from the International Copper Study Group (ICSG) showed. World production of refined copper amounted to 14.808 million tonnes in the first nine months of the year, which compared with usage of 15.402 million tonnes, the ICSG said.

Rio Tinto to spend USD 660 million on Utah copper mine

Rio Tinto Group has finally put a price tag on its proposed expansion of Kennecott Utah Copper's Bingham Canyon mine and it is well over half a billion dollars. London based Rio Tinto said that it intends to invest USD 660 million to extend the life of its Utah open pit copper mine by 11 years through to 2029. But that may be only part of what it ends up spending in Utah to ensure that the mine has nearly 2 more decades of profitable operations before it.
Mr Kelly Sanders CEO of Kennecott said,“Kennecott has a great history in Utah, and this mine expansion offers an opportunity for us to continue producing about a quarter of the country's copper for years to come.” Rio Tinto said that the additional spending over the next seven years will allow average annual production of 180,000 tonnes of copper, 185,000 ounces of gold and 13,800 tonnes of molybdenum from 2019 to 2029. At current prices, the value of that production would be well over USD 2 billion a year. Moreover, Kennecott already is looking past 2029 to see what it might take to extend the life of the Bingham Canyon mine even more. Mr Andrew Harding CEO of Rio Tinto's copper unit said, “We continue to evaluate underground options that will further extend the life of Bingham Canyon, which has already been in operation for more than 100 years.”

Xstrata's Papua new Guinea project to cost $5.6 bn

Xstrata Plc, the world's fourth- largest copper producer, estimated it will cost $5.6 billion to develop the Frieda River copper and gold project in Papua New Guinea, according to its partner. The largest undeveloped open-pit copper and gold project in the country has a mine life of 20 years and is capable of producing an annual average of 304,000 metric tons a year of copper and 451,000 ounces of gold in its first five years, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea-based Highlands Pacific Ltd. said in a statement. Xstrata, which owns 81.8 percent of Frieda and manages the project, said in June it plans to sell part or all of it, following rivals including BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Plc in rationing capital spending after a slump in commodity prices. Talks with groups including the Papua New Guinea government, which has expressed interest in taking as much as a 30 percent stake will be held in 2013, said Highlands. The project will produce substantial cash flows at the forecast metal prices for almost 20 years, Highlands Managing Director John Gooding said in the statement. Subject to such discussions and future applications and approvals in 2013-14, we believe Frieda's development could commence mid-decade with first production later this decade. Frieda may generate $1.1 billion a year in free cash flow in its first five years, according to the feasibility study. The estimated life of mine cash flow is about $556 million a year, Highlands said. Xstrata also identified additional capital savings in relation to waste disposal in its extended 2012 study of the project that could reduce the initial spending to about $5 billion, said Highlands.

Global woes threaten expected copper surplus

Mr Thomas Keller CEO of Codelco was cited as saying that miners are deferring investments because of a crisis in Europe and a slowdown in China potentially eroding a copper surplus forecast for 2015. World No 1 copper producer Codelco plans to spend USD 27 billion by 2020 to lift annual output to 2.1 million tonnes from this year's aim of around 1.7 million sticking by its plans despite current global woes. It is also seeking a deal with global miner Anglo American in an acrimonious spat over that company's coveted south central Chilean properties home to what could become the world's fifth largest copper mine. Copper prices have fallen sharply recently on fears that the euro zone debt crisis could spread and on signs those two top emerging economies, India and China are starting to falter. Mr Keller said, “There's lower optimism in the industry. There are companies postponing their investment decisions which imply the balance between demand and supply will continue to be tight in the medium term. It's even putting at risk the small surplus expected in 2015.” Though state owned firm Codelco has often said that its own expansion projects wouldn't be at risk even if prices were to fall further, Mr Keller said the miner is worried about delays in new energy projects and soaring costs for power in Chile. Chile's energy grid is reeling from years of underinvestment, compounded by a devastating earthquake in 2010, droughts and surging environmental opposition to key projects.”

Global unwrought aluminium stocks declines

World unwrought aluminium stocks were at 1.241 million tonnes in November versus a revised figure of 1.3 million in October, International Aluminium Institute (IAI) data showed. Unwrought stocks in November 2011 stood at 1.458 million tonnes, IAI said. Total aluminium, or unwrought aluminium plus unprocessed scrap, metal in process and finished semi-fabricated products, was at 2.258 million tonnes in November. That was down from a revised figure of 2.345 million in October and 2.401 million a year earlier. Meanwhile, LME aluminium is expected to consolidate further in a range of $1,900-$2,150 per tonne over the next three months, as indicated by a triangle and two trend lines. The triangle has been constructed by the ratio of 0.8. The starting point of this pattern is at the Aug. 16 low of $1,827.25. The rise from this level to the Sept. 14 high of $2,199 was reversed about 80 percent by the following drop. Similarly, this drop was recovered about 80 percent by the subsequent gain from the Oct. 29 low of $1,887 to $2,148. If this ratio works again, aluminium may fall to about $1,939, touching the lower trend line of the pattern. The trend line descending from the May 3, 2011 high of $2,803 and passing through the March 2 high of $2,361.50 was broken on Sept. 13. The break only led to a sudden blowup and the metal fell deeply after hitting $2,199. The fall could be interpreted as an overdone pullback towards the trend line. The similar pullback could be seen towards the upper trend line which descends from $2,803 and passes through $2,199, and this pullback is expected to seek a support at the lower trend line which is about $1,900. The bearish outlook will be revised should aluminium climb above $2,148, as the downtrend from $2,803 would be reversed further.

UAE aluminum extrusion market booming

The UAE aluminum extrusion market is estimated to be in excess of 175,000 metric tonnes (MT), about 35 per cent of the total GCC demand, growing at a CAGR of 8 to 9 per cent for the time period from 2011-17, said a report. With the strategic acquisition of AKFA Aluminium and Plastic, the UAE-based Emirates Extrusion Factory is poised to become one of the top players in the GCC, according to Frost & Sullivan, a leading business research & consulting firm.
A subsidiary of Masharie, the private equity arm of Dubai Investments, the Emirates Extrusion Factory had last week announced the acquisition of a hitech production facility for aluminium extruded profiles from AKFA Aluminium and Plastic FZE, to increase its operational efficiency and meet rising demand. "When other regional players are focusing on organic growth (or expansion of existing lines), Emirates Extrusion Factory has raised the bar by investing to buy-out an existing facility in the UAE which is expected to reduce the potential risk in Greenfield expansion," said S Venkatesan, the director of Metals and Minerals Practice, Mena and South Asia, Frost & Sullivan, in his comments.
Frost & Sullivan, he said, forecasts this to be a fair deal as the feed stock proximity from nearest smelters, sea port access, low cost of production, additional space for capacity expansion and fruitfully a large customer base for aluminum extruded profiles in the UAE will help the Emirates Extrusion Factory. Also, Emirates Extrusion Factory can focus more on the non-architectural sectors as the architectural sector was affected by the real estate slump and recession, which in return hampered the growth of the extrusion companies, he added.

Danieli buys Innoval

Italian plant and equipment supplier Danieli has bought UK technical consulting group Innoval Technology. Danieli will integrate Innoval into its Danieli Aluminium Strip Division group which will also include Danieli Fröhling and Danieli Wean United. Innoval Technology will continue to operate from its offices in Banbury, UK, with the same team and the same customer focus. Existing clients will find it ‘business as usual' with the company providing the same confidential, independent service and impartial advice as it always has done.
The philosophy of all companies within the Danieli Group is to invest in product development. Therefore, Innoval Technology's service offering is set to increase and, with the support of the Group's global network, its expansion into new markets.
The integration of Innoval into Danieli follows five years of cooperation between the two companies in designing and marketing the Danieli Fröhling Diamond Mill. In the last two years alone, the team has achieved many orders, including a universal Diamond Foil Mill for Nikkei Siam in Thailand, a 6-high Diamond Strip Mill for Aleris Europe in Belgium, and the world's widest aluminium 6-high Diamond Mill for Kumz in Russia.

Extrusions group in $7M expansion

New Hampshire, USA based Vitex Extrusions has spent $7M on an aluminium extrusion press and production line to double its annual output capacity. The new production line installation completed in December, increased plant output capacity from 18,000,000lbs to 30,000,000lbs/y. The modernised equipment produces extruded aluminium profiles with tighter dimensional tolerances and superior surface finishes to what was previously available in the market.
Also, having strategic excess capacity shifts the service paradigm from reacting to and gearing up for sudden demand spikes to one of anticipating and fulfilling sharp up-ticks without any increases in lead times. Vitex has taken a huge step in assuring its customers that their manufacturing operations keep pace easily with increased market demands thus allowing them to focus on core business objectives and continued growth. Vitex customers include major automobile companies, accessory suppliers, solar panel companies, exercise equipment makers, electronics hardware manufactures and construction contractors.

Jilin Liyuan heading for growth – with two extrusion presses from SMS Meer

Jilin Liyuan Aluminium from Liaoyuan, Jilin Province, China, recently ordered two new presses from SMS Meer, Germany. A 160-MN frontloading press and a 60-MN direct/indirect tube press. With the two new machines, Jilin Liyuan Aluminium is continuing its growth and again setting standards on the market for large profiles and seamless tubes of aluminum. The new 160-MN front-loading press will be the largest modern frontloading extrusion press in operation worldwide. It will enable Jilin Liyuan to produce profiles up to one meter in width. The profiles can reach lengths of up to 28 meters – corresponding to the railcar length of modern high-speed trains such as the ICE or TGV. Whole railcars manufactured “in one piece".
The 160-MN extrusion press now gives the engineers new design possibilities in railcar construction: Up until now, several profiles had to be joined together to form one part by friction welding. Now the parts can be produced in one extrusion cycle. That saves time, energy and costs. The integrated aluminum construction is increasingly being used also for local commuter and underground trains. The energy-saving lightweight design and the high recycling capability are important answers to ecological demands. The annual capacity of the new press is more than 20,000 t of large profiles. The machine is scheduled to go into production in December 2013.
Extremely flexible 60-MN tube press. The new 60-MN tube extrusion press will enable Jilin Liyuan Aluminium to produce seamless tubes with diameters of up to 450 mm. A further outstanding feature of the 60-MN press is its flexibility: It can extrude tubes and profiles both “directly” and “indirectly”. Wang Min, President and General Manager of Jilin Liyuan Aluminium: “We have already produced quality tubes with variable inside diameters on our 45-MN direct and indirect tube press. We are convinced that we can produce similar tubes with larger diameter on our new 60-MN direct tube press.”
The Chinese aluminum producer had already ordered a 100-MN front-loading press and a 45-MN direct/indirect tube press from SMS Meer in 2010. Ulrich Vohskämper, Head of Hydraulic Presses Product Area at SMS Meer: “The new orders are a huge vote of confidence for us and show that the customer is satisfied with our efforts.” The annual capacity of the 60-MN press here is 10,000 t of seamless tubes. Commissioning is scheduled for June 2014.

Cuba closes oldest nickel processing plant

Cuba has closed the oldest of three nickel plants in the country, a local Communist Party leader said, a looming event that had become the talk of the mountain town of Nicaro, in eastern Holguin, where it is located, reports said. Nickel is Cuba's most important export and one of its top foreign exchange earners after technical services and tourism. "This plant's productive role is completed and now it will dedicate its efforts to services," Jorge Cuevas Ramos, First Secretary of the Holguin Communist Party, said in an interview with the provincial television station. A local radio report earlier in the week had also indicated the plant was closed. "After the closing of the René Ramos Latourt plant, its director said only the mineral transportation system would be maintained so it is ready to be transferred to Moa or for a foreign company that might be interested in investing in the area," the report said. The Cuban nickel industry is cloaked in secrecy. National media and officials have yet to mention the plant's closure after operating for around 70 years. Cuba produced 69,700 tonnes of unrefined nickel plus cobalt in 2010, the last official figures available. "This is something that has been on people's minds for a while, because the plant has very old technology and very low efficiency," said an office worker at the plant, who asked to remain anonymous. "We didn't know exactly when it would close, but eventually it would have to because it is not economically sustainable," she said. The Ramos Latour plant had been producing only a few thousand tonnes of unrefined nickel plus cobalt in recent years as the government struggled to keep it open and figure out what to do with Nicaro's 15,000 residents. Cuba will now have two nickel processing plants operating in Holguin, one a joint venture with Canadian resource company Sherritt International and another owned by state-run Cubaniquel, both located in Moa, Holguin. Cuevas, during the interview, said Cuba's Ernesto Che Guevara plant did not meet its 2012 plan, while the Pedro Sotto Alba plant with Sherritt had, without providing further details. Reuters estimates this year's output at around 65,000 tonnes of unrefined nickel plus cobalt.

EMAL : the fastest smelter in the Gulf

Emirates Aluminium (EMAL) is claiming a record-breaking hot metal production figure of 1.5Mt having producing 500kt of it in the last seven months.
According to Saeed Fadhel Al Mazrooei, EMAL's CEO, purity levels of 99.88% have been achieved along with zero hours of 'lost time injuries' or LTIs over a production period of 10 million work hours. In 2011, the company boasted no LTIs over five million work hours. Al Mazrooei also boasted that not a single pot had been lost since the company's inception in 2009 and that demand for its aluminium currently stands at 900kt - an amount conducive to EMAL's development plans. EMAL's second phase development will increase production to 0.8Mmt by the end of the year and 1.4Mmt by 2014. Last month the company introduced foundry aluminium to its product range, which is mainly used in the automotive industry.

Dubai commodities bourse plans trading platform for copper futures

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre is planning to launch a copper futures trading platform on the Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange in the near future. Mr Ahmad Bin Sulayem DGCX's chairman and head of DMCC said, “You are likely to see copper futures on DGCX in near future. Copper futures were one of the first projects that came up when the exchange was established. The trading platform was set up in 2005 and belongs to the DMCC.” He said that when we developed the exchange we were bombarded with so many projects and copper was one of the first. This is the right time and what is needed and required by our members. Mr Bin Sulayem said, "We're not looking for the DGCX to have 200 products but we're focusing a bit more on volume. It's not really more about the products than the volume it brings to the exchange." Among a panel of experts DMCC also announced the inaugural Dubai Precious Metals Conference on April 29th and 30th 2012. The conference will discuss the marketing, trade, finance and technology trends in the global precious metals market and will additionally focus on white metals such as silver and platinium. Mr Gerhard Shubert head of Precious Metals at Emirates NBD said that last year, 18.5% of physical gold movements went through Dubai. He predicted a similar pattern of 18.5% to 20% of global gold trade to pass through Dubai in 2012. The biggest taker of gold is India with 950 tonnes. Dubai plays a major role as a supplier and gateway to India. He said that in terms of prices, gold may reach the USD 2,000 mark between the third and Q4 of this year if it ends at USD 1,600 by the end of the Q2.

Rising power costs threaten aluminium industrya

The Australian Aluminium Council has warned that the Kurri smelter in the NSW Hunter Valley will not be the only one at risk if the industry is forced to absorb more electricity costs. It has told a Senate Inquiry into electricity costs that aluminium smelting already carries a disproportionate share of transmission costs, compared to other users. Hydro's Kurri smelter was recently forced to close because of the high Australian dollar and low world metal prices. Mr Miles Prosser Aluminium Council Executive Director said that Kurri will not be the only casualty if transmission costs rise. "We're not saying that the current costs for transmission need to change but we're just saying to the regulators and to the Government, look if you're going to play around with this policy just be conscious that you can't load more costs on to users like aluminium. There just isn't the capacity there to continue to take on more costs." Mr Prosser said that to make matters worse the industry is forced to carry a disproportionate share of transmission costs. The smelter takes a very consistent load of electricity and so it's actually quite a simple task to build a transmission line between the generator and the smelter. The transmission task when it comes to distributing electricity to households and other users is a bigger task and so what we're actually seeing is aluminium smelters probably taking more than their normal amount of the transmission cost if you like.

Boliden beats estimates with 2.1% profit

Boliden AB, the only Scandinavian copper producer, beat analysts' estimates with a 2.1 percent drop in third-quarter profit as commodity prices declined. Net income fell to 817 million kronor ($122 million) from 835 million kronor a year ago, exceeding the 795 million-krona average estimate of seven analysts Bloomberg surveyed. Sales at the miner and refiner of zinc and copper slumped 14 percent to 9.12 billion kronor, the Stockholm-based company said. Mining added 842 million kronor to operating profit and smelting 292 million kronor, Boliden said. Rising costs have led to companies such as Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., the biggest publicly traded copper producer, missing estimates, while metal prices sank on concerns demand will slow in China, the biggest consumer of the metal. Average zinc prices in London fell 15 percent to $1,904 a tonne in the quarter, while copper declined 14 percent to $7,720 a tonne. Operating costs at mines increased by about 6 percent from a year earlier because of higher energy and staff costs, Boliden said. The number of employees has expanded in the Boliden concentrator since 2011 and at the new Kankberg mine, it said. The costs in smelters declined by 3 percent, the company said. Zinc metal output in the quarter edged down 1.4 percent to 116,772 tons and copper fell 9 percent to 81,941 tonnes, according to the statement. Mined zinc production declined 9.7 percent to 66,735 tonnes, while mined copper output advanced 5.6 percent. The company's operating costs, including depreciation, totaled 2.5 billion kronor, Boliden said. Net debt was to 5.69 billion kronor at the end of the quarter, it said.

China copper cathode consumption growth to slow in 2013

Consumption of copper cathode is likely to grow more slowly in China in 2013 cooling further after the pace of growth looks set to drop by at least a third this year. Senior metals executives said that demand for industrial metals such as copper has weakened this year as China's economic growth slows largely due to a decline in manufacturing activity in its main export market Europe. China, the world's top user of copper, could stage a tepid economic rebound in the Q4 as higher public infrastructure spending nudges it out of seven consecutive quarters of slowdown but growth will remain lethargic through 2013 a Reuters poll showed. Mr Jerry Jiao president of Minmetals Nonferrous Metals Holdings said, "Cathode consumption and imports would definitely grow next year but the growth rate will be slower. Mr Wu Yuneng deputy GM of Jiangxi Copper said that Chinese cathode consumption growth would slow in 2013 after growth of 4.8% this year. Neither provided a specific figure but growth was seen as well down on 7.8% growth last year, 11.5% in 2010, 19.6% in 2009 and 11.8% in 2008. Mr Stefan Boel member of the executive board at Aurubis AG, the biggest cathode producer in Germany said that it was seeing good interest from Chinese importers for next year and while growth may not be double digit, there could be still good growth.

Global Lead & Zinc Demand Expected to Rise

Global demand for refined lead metal is expected to rise by 3.4% to 10.80 million tonnes in 2012 and a further 3.3% in 2013 to 11.15 million tonnes. Expected rises in refined lead metal output of 2.9% in 2012 to 10.90 million tonnes and 3.8% in 2013 to 11.32 million tonnes have been influenced by the opening of both new capacity and the reopening of capacity placed on care and maintenance in recent years. The global refined lead metal market will remain in oversupply both this year and next; the extent of the oversupply in 2012 is forecast at 108kt and in 2013 at 174kt. World demand for refined zinc metal will see a decline by 0.3% to 12.71 million tonnes in 2012 followed by a 3.8% increase to 13.19 million tonnes in 2013. World refined zinc metal output is forecast to fall by 2% to 12.86 million tonnes and then to rise by 4.8% to 13.48 million tonnes in 2013. with regard to zinc metal balance, a surplus of 135kt is forecast this year with a more significant excess of 293kt anticipated in 2013.

Aluminium use to increase in India

The Indian economy has arrived at a point where a non-ferrous metal such as aluminium will come in for increasingly significant application in many areas, besides electrical and electronics, which now has a preponderant share of 48 per cent of this country's total use of the white metal against world average of 11 per cent, reports said. No wonder, the chairman of National Aluminium Co (Nalco), Ansuman Das, believes this metal's “growth story here has begun to unfold and as we go forward, the per capita consumption of aluminium, now at 1.3 kg, can only rise. Our neighbour, China, has an aluminium per capita use of 14 kg”. But then in every metal China is miles ahead of India. The issue is not that India's aluminium production of 1.7 million tonnes (mt) is way behind China's 20 mt. What inspires confidence is that the three constituents of the local industry — Vedanta, Hindalco and Nalco — have in the face of some major raw materials cost inflation, falls in London Metal Exchange (LME) prices and the coal linkage plans not always working satisfactorily are negotiating the ongoing difficult period for the metal better than most of their peers abroad. Nalco's metal production loss of 30,508 tonnes to 413,089 tonnes in 2011-12 was much due to coal supply problems. Procurement of coal by the company by way of imports and local auction purchases, both proving to be expensive, could not fully offset the shortfall in supply by Mahanadi Coalfields. Vedanta remains in a quandary about bauxite availability. This is in spite of the Odisha government's commitment to give it sufficient access to deposits of this mineral. Hindalco complains about cost push due to the falling quality of bauxite. The phenomenon, however, is unavoidable in ageing mines. Hindalco, too, is meeting with local protests as it tries to open new mines and operate an existing one in Odisha. Considering the abundance of bauxite and thermal coal here, the country has no reason to be boastful of the size of its aluminium industry. But, as Das says, the world is taking note of “our growth programme, which will leave the country with aluminium capacity of over 3 mt by 2015-16”. In new capacity creation, all three groups are participating by way of new capacity and expansion. Now that the ill-advised Nalco Indonesian venture has been shelved, Das and his board members will find it convenient to quickly deliberate on whether the third phase of Nalco capacity expansion will be by way of enhancing the amperage of smelter potlines now at 180 kilo amperes and if so by how much or through a new fifth potline.

Nickel surplus may climb to 5-year high on new mine projects

A global nickel surplus may expand for a third year to the highest level since 2008 as supply from new mining projects outweighs China's demand growth, Japan's top producer said. Supply will likely exceed demand by 60,000 metric tons in 2013, said Toru Higo, Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. (5713)'s general manager of nickel sales and raw materials. Supply outstripped demand by 40,000 tons this year and 22,000 tons in 2011, he said. Sherritt International Corp. (S) said that its Ambatovy project in Madagascar got a six-month approval to operate commercially. Xstrata Plc (XTA)'s Koniambo project in New Caledonia is scheduled to start production during the first quarter of next year, spokesman Wayne Groeneveld said Sept. 26. China, the biggest consumer, has been ramping up infrastructure spending to counter a slowdown in economic growth that's on in more than two decades.
“The surplus will likely increase further next year with the Ambatovy and Koniambo projects starting production,” Higo said in an interview. On the demand side, all countries except China are slowing.
Prices of the metal, used for corrosion resistance in stainless steel, have fallen 0.4 percent this year, making it the worst performer among six base metals on the London Metal Exchange. Three-month delivery metal traded at $18,636 a ton on the LME at 2:40 p.m. in Tokyo. LME stockpiles on Oct. 1 reached the highest level since March 30, 2011. World stainless-steel output may gain 4.7 percent to 35.7 million tons in 2013, Higo said. Output by China, the biggest producer, is expected to rise 9.7 percent to 15.8 million tons with the new infrastructure projects, he said. approved plans for 2,018 kilometers (1,254 miles) of roads, as well as sewage plants, port and warehouse projects and subways. China's nickel output including pig iron may fall 3.4 percent to 425,000 tons in 2013, while demand will likely rise 6.9 percent to 770,000 tons, he said. The country's nickel pig iron output may drop 7.7 percent to 240,000 tons because of lower nickel prices, he said. Pig iron is a substitute made from low-grade ore from Indonesia and the Philippines. China's nickel imports will reach a record 345,000 tons in 2013, up 23 percent from this year, Higo said. Japan's exports will jump 2 percent to an all-time high of 89,000 tons as producers ship more ferronickel and nickel oxide to China, Taiwan, South Korea and Southeast Asia to make up for sluggish demand at home, Higo said.

Global copper market to remain in surplus in 2013

The global market for refined copper is expected to swing into a 281,000 tonne surplus in 2013 from a deficit this year, the International Wrought Copper Council (IWCC) said, with mine supply growing against a backdrop of tepid demand. The industry group estimated global refined copper production would climb 4.9 percent from 2012 to 21.06 million tonnes, helped by a recovery in international mine supply. The firm expects global mine supply to expand 6.5 percent in 2013 to more than 17.7 million tonnes from 3 percent growth to 16.65 million tonnes this year. Global apparent demand for refined copper in 2013 is expected to expand by 0.8 percent to 20.77 million tonnes, the IWCC said in a research report. Real consumption of refined copper in China is seen rising 4.6 percent to 8.45 million tonnes next year, from 7.875 million tonnes in 2012. Apparent demand in China, which may include copper imported for financing purposes and not immediately used by industry, is seen growing by more than 9 percent in 2012 to 8.65 million tonnes, IWCC said. This suggests an unreported stock build of 575,000 tonnes of copper this year, it said. The group sees the market in a 545,000 tonne deficit this year. In Europe, copper consumption is expected to expand by 2 percent in 2013, having contracted by 4 percent in 2012, while a 2.8 percent increase is seen in the United States next year from 1.8 million tonnes of consumption this year. In Asia outside China, demand for refined copper is seen climbing by 4 percent in 2013. Earlier this week, China's state-backed research firm Antaike said it saw consumption of refined copper in China rising 5.5 percent to about 8.1 million tonnes next year as the economy in the world's top consumer of the metal picks up.

Quality issues stop aluminium shipments from Sohar

Equipment breakdown at the Sohar Aluminium facility in Oman has led to Rio Tinto Alcan slapping a 'force majeure' on customers in the Asia Pacific. The force majeure relates to exports of P1020 standard 99.7% aluminium ingot. With critical plant equipment out of action, Sohar is finding it difficult to control quality deviations, claims Rio Tinto Alcan. The smelter produces 100% on-spec material and currently has a capacity of 365kt/yr. According to Rio Tinto's Bryan Tucker, the situation is under constant evaluation. Rio Tinto has a 20% share in the Sohar facility and is responsible for managing metal exports. Liquid metal is not covered by the force majeure.

Vale faces investigation on improper land use

Brazil's Vale SA, the world's second-largest mining company, faces an investigation of two Amazon copper mines after allegations that it improperly used Indian lands and failed to replace forest cut to build a power line. The prosecutor's office is looking into the Indian land issue at Sossego, Vale's biggest-producing copper mine, with 109,000 tonnes of output in 2011. The prosecutor is also looking into the forestry issue at the $2.83 billion Salobo mine, which is in the start-up phase. Vale said that any suppression of vegetation near Salobo was legally conducted under the authorization of the environmental regulator with jurisdiction in the region. Salobo is designed to produce 100,000 tonnes of copper concentrate a year, according to Vale's website.
An expansion doubling output to 200,000 tonnes a year, surpassing Sossego, is scheduled to be complete in the second half of 2013. The Onca Puma suit alleged that Vale failed to meet obligations to two Indian tribes in the region. Vale's spokeswoman said that the company was awaiting formal notification from the prosecutor's office and is ready to provide any clarification needed. Raupp and other federal prosecutors have wide independence to investigate and charge companies and individuals for alleged violations of the law. Many prosecutors have come under criticism from business and government leaders for overzealous prosecutions. Environmental and community groups have sought out prosecutors to press their claims. A federal prosecutor in Rio de Janeiro state is seeking 40 billion reais ($20 billion) from Chevron and Transocean and has filed criminal charges against 17 of their employees that carry jail terms of up to 31 years as a result of a November oil spill.

Glencore to take over Alcoa's Italy plant

Commodity trading and mining group Glencore has expressed an interest in taking over Alcoa's aluminium plant on the island of Sardinia, Italy's industry ministry said. The Swiss multinational (Glencore) confirmed its interest in discussing the Alcoa question, asking for clarifications about the general conditions, like the energy costs, infrastructure and environmental issues, the ministry said in a statement issued after officials met with the company and local labout representatives. However, Glencore said it would provide its assessment soon, according to the statement. It would be premature to say a deal is about to happen, said a source familiar with the talks. Glencore, which soon faces a crucial shareholder vote on its bid to take over mining group Xstrata, declined to comment. Italian industry ministry Undersecretary Claudio De Vincenti has previously played down prospects of a deal to save the plant, whose future has been put in doubt by high energy costs. Alcoa plans to close the loss-making factory by November unless a buyer is found. About 50 of the plant's workers staged protests urging the government to intervene and save their jobs.

Siemens to Supply VOD Plant for Austrian Foundry

Siemens VAI Metals Technologies received an order for a 50-ton vacuum oxygen decarburization (VOD) plant with mechanical vacuum pumps from voestalpine Giesserei Linz GmbH, part of the Steel Division of voestalpine Corp. The Austrian company is supplementing its facilities in Linz for secondary metallurgical processing of cast steels for demanding applications in the energy and machine-building industries. The new VOD plant, which is expected to be operational by the end of the year, completes the secondary metallurgical processing options of the voestalpine foundry in Linz.

Japan's Nikkei to set up an aluminium alloy plant in India

Japan's Nikkei MC Aluminium (NMA) made an entry into India's ` 7,500 crore aluminium alloy market in a joint venture with domestic major Century Metal Recycling (CMR). The company is looking to form a joint venture for setting up a plant for manufacturing aluminium alloy, used in automotive sector, at Bawal in Haryana with ` 50 crore investment, NMA's President Shuzou Hammamura said. The facility, with 42,000 tonnes a year capacity, would cater to the automobile companies in the vicinity. CMR will hold 74% in the joint venture and the rest will be with Nikkei, he added. CMR, which claims to be the No. 1 firm in India in the aluminium alloy making space, has four plants and had clocked `1,000 crore revenue last year. The NMA and CMR joint venture would import aluminium scrap from overseas to use as raw material for making alloys. CMR Chairman G S Agarwala said every year India consumes around five lakh tonnes of aluminium alloy, valued at ` 7,500 crore, and the market has been growing by 15-20% each year.

Nalco signs contract to sell 330,000 tonnes alumina

State-run National Aluminium Co Ltd (Nalco) has finalised a long-term contract to export 330,000 tonnes of alumina for shipment in 2013 at 16.07 percent of the LME aluminium price on an FOB basis, the company sources said. The Singapore-based buyer will receive the alumina in batches between January and December next year. Nalco, whose tenders serve as a global benchmark, last November sold 240,000 tonnes of alumina for deliveries in 2012 to a Switzerland-based buyer at 16.39 percent of the LME aluminium price on an FOB basis.

Novelis moves closer to 80% recycled content

Novelis, a world-leader in rolled aluminium products, has announced that it has moved a step closer to achieving its goal of using 80% recycled metals in its production processes. The company's second annual sustainability report shows an increase in the recycled content of its products from 33% to 39% one year after announcing its target of achieving an 80% recycled content by 2020. The report, which received an A rating from the Global Reporting Initiative (the world's most widely used framework for sustainability reporting) also recorded a 19% reduction in energy intensity, an 11% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an 18% improvement towards reducing landfill to zero.
Chief executive Phil Maartens says that sustainability is driving the company's business strategy and that a growing number of people want to buy products that lower their carbon footprint."By dramatically increasing the amount of recycled content in our aluminium sheet and applying innovation to our product development, we enable consumers to make sensible, environmentally sustainable purchasing choices," adds Maartens.
Novelis is investing in new technologies and facilities to process a broader array of aluminium scrap. In the past three years, the company has announced investments of approximately 810kt of increased global recycling capacity in Germany, Korea and Brazil and has strengthened its recycling collection systems. Having withdrawn from the Evermore Project (a partnership initiative with Alcoa), Novelis has set up an independent beverage can procurement organisation in North America. The company recently set up the Novelis Sustainability Council, which includes ecological luminary Jonathan Porritt as a council member.

China aluminum die casting output rises continuously

The demands of castings have increased with the development of global casting industry. Since many car makers use aluminium castings to replace ash iron castings these years stimulate the increasing demand of aluminum castings. China alumina and electrolytic aluminium production all rank first in the world abundant labor resource and huge market laid a good development foundation for China aluminum alloy casting industry. Striven by global economic integration, the casting production center will move to China gradually. Die castings occupied around one third of the whole aluminum alloy castings. We can figure out that the production of China aluminum castings and aluminum alloy die castings increased continuously in recent years, global ratio also improved.

Hindustan Copper signs MoU for speedy clearances

Hindustan Copper Ltd has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a Madhya Pradesh government undertaking to obtain requisite clearances for its proposed investment of Rs 1856 crore in the state. The MoU was signed between K.D. Diwan, HCL Chairman-cum-Managing Director and Arun Kumar Bhatt, Managing Director, MP Trade & Investment Facilitation Corporation Ltd (TRIFAC), at a recent global investor summit in Indore. HCL plans to build a five million tonne capacity underground mine beneath its present opencast mine at Malanjkhand, by 2017-18. The MoU would enable HCL to obtain necessary clearances, concessions and waivers for the Malanjkhand project from the State Government, according to a HCL release. The government would have the right to terminate the MoU, if HCL does not initiate work on the project in six months.