NALCO Commercializes R&D Process
    As a major step in the field of Research & development, National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO), has commercialized the laboratory scale R&D process namely 'Development of Heat Treatment Process for Destruction of Toxic Cyanide and Recovery of Valuables from Spent Pot Lining Material (SPL)' to M/s Green Energy Resources, Odisha.
In this regard, a MoU between NALCO and M/s Green Energy Resources was signed recently. On behalf of the company, S.K. Dash, Executive Director (P&T) and from M/s Green Energy Resources, N.K. Agrawal, Partner, signed the MoU. Ansuman Das, Chairman-cum-Managing Director, N.R. Mohanty, Director (P&T), B.K. Satapathy, GM (R&D) and P.K. Biswal, Partner, M/s Green Energy Resources were notably present on this occasion.
The process was developed in a collaborative effort between NALCO and Jawaharlal Nehru Aluminium Research Development and Design Centre (JNARDC), Nagpur. On installation and commissioning of a suitable size plant (on getting necessary statutory clearance) by the M/s Green Energy Resources, the process is likely to help in the utilization of the waste material (Spent Pot Line).
  Bahrain Alba's 2013 Aluminum Output Hits Record
    Aluminium Bahrain, or Alba, produced a record high 912,700 mt of aluminum in 2013, an increase of 2.5% compared with the 890,217 mt produced in 2012, the company said recently.
This was the first time the company exceeded 900,000 mt in output in its 40-year history, Alba CEO Tim Murray said in the statement. "We feel this increase in productivity is directly linked to the improvement in safety performance. As we look into 2014, we expect to go even higher in terms of operational improvements and plant reliability," he added. The company's high-grade aluminum product range includes standard and T-ingots, extrusion billets, rolling slab, properzi ingots and molten aluminum.
  China to Impose Tiered Power Pricing on Aluminum Producers
    China will impose a tiered pricing mechanism of electricity on its aluminum producers starting January, the latest effort in Beijing's campaign to encourage firms to cut back the capacity overhang in sectors such as aluminum, steel and cement.
Producers of the light metal will be charged different prices based on the amount of electricity they consume in the making of liquid aluminum, the National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement on Monday.
Power prices will remain unchanged for producers that consume no more than 13,700 kilowatts for each ton produced, while those that consume between 13,700-13,800 kilowatts per ton will be charged an additional 0.02 yuan per kilowatt, the NDRC said.
Producers that consume more than 13,800 kilowatts of electricity per ton will be charged an additional CNY0.08 per kilowatt, it added.
The NDRC also said local governments are not allowed to lower power prices for their aluminum producers and asked them to retract the preferential power prices if they had already been applied to those producers.
Local governments were also asked to collect government fees from aluminum producers that have their own power plants, the NDRC said.
  Sapa Decides to Close Aluminium Tubing Plant in Seneffe
    Sapa has announced its intention to close operations at its Precision Tubing plant in Seneffe, Belgium.
Recently, Sapa communicated that the company had conducted a process of reviewing restructuring needs in Precision Tubing Europe to improve profitability and adjust to the market situation in Europe. As a result of this process, the company announced its intention to close the operations in Seneffe, Belgium.
Since then a consultation process was conducted with the employee representatives of Seneffe, which has now been concluded.
Following the completion of this information and consultation procedure, Sapa today confirmed the decision to close the Seneffe plant. The closure is necessary to ensure the continued long-term competitiveness and success of the new combined company.
Sapa will now put full focus on reaching an agreement on an appropriate social plan and severance packages.
Precision Tubing's production in Europe will in the future be concentrated in Tønder, Denmark, which will continue to serve as a center for technical expertise. Seneffe is expected to stop production by the end of first quarter 2014.
The Seneffe plant has 41 employees, with one extrusion press supplying tubes and tubular profiles to the automotive market.
  China Zinc Output Hit Record High
    China's zinc output hit an all-time high of 503,400 tonnes in November, according to the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association (CNIA), as smelters stepped up production to achieve annual targets.
The November output grew by 1.0% on the month and 11.13% year-on-year. YTD output through November was 4.89 million tonnes, up 13.1% from a year earlier.
Average operating rate at major domestic zinc smelters rose to a record high of was 77.01% in November, SMM's survey showed, matching the CNIA data.
The record high output was attributed to most smelters maintaining normal production and some ramping up production to complete annual production goals.
Most large smelters remained in normal production during November. Yunnan Xiangyun Feilong Nonferrous Metal Co. increased production since September by 1,000 tonnes per month. Output of Jiangxi Copper Co. showed stable recovery following maintenance in September. Sichuan Hanyuan Jintai Mining Industry Limited Company also restarted production in early November.
No more repairs were reported from zinc smelters in December, and high zinc prices would encourage those resuming production after maintenance to increase output. Thus, China's zinc output was expected to rise further in December.
  Novelis to Sell North American Consumer Foil Business
    Novelis Inc., the world leader in aluminum rolling and recycling, today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement for the sale of its North American consumer foil products business to Reynolds Consumer Products, Inc.
The transaction includes foil manufacturing plants in Toronto, ON, and Vancouver, BC, in addition to sales offices and distribution facilities located in Montreal, QC; Mississauga, ON; and LaGrange, Ga. The purchase price is $35 million, subject to customary adjustments.
"The North America consumer foil products business is a successful part of our company; however, it is not aligned with Novelis' growth strategy. Our primary focus is to continue our growth in the premium markets of automotive, beverage cans and specialty products, and to expand our recycling leadership," said Marco Palmieri, Senior Vice President and President of Novelis North America. Over the past three years, Novelis has invested $1.7 billion in global expansions to serve these markets.
The sale of Novelis' consumer foil products business is subject to receipt of regulatory and other customary approvals. The consumer foil products business includes approximately 200 employees.
  Trimet Acquires Aluminum Plants in France
    TRIMET Aluminium SE has acquired two production plants in France from Rio Tinto Alcan. In July of this year, TRIMET made a binding offer to take over and continue production at the aluminum plants in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and Castelsarrasin. The acquisition has now been approved by the national and European regulatory authorities. Alongside the main shareholder, TRIMET Aluminium SE, the French energy provider EDF holds a minority stake in TRIMET France SAS.
At both locations, some 500 employees produce high-quality aluminum wire, which is processed into electrical lines for the energy sector, among other uses, and into connectors for the automotive industry. By entering into this product segment, TRIMET is expanding its product portfolio, consistently advancing the growth of recent years. “There is great demand for aluminum wire in the European processing industry.
By supplying complex alloys and customized solutions, we are strengthening our long-term core competence as a specialty supplier within this product group,” said Dr. Martin Iffert, CEO of TRIMET Aluminium SE, who will manage the fortunes of TRIMET France SAS as President of the company. “The locations are perfectly compatible with TRIMET's strategic direction, both in terms of the qualified employees and the technical level of the systems. On this basis, we will align the sophisticated products more closely to the needs of our customers.”
As an innovative medium-sized company, TRIMET Aluminium SE develops, produces, recycles, casts, and sells modern light-metal products made out of aluminum. Some 2,400 employees ensure, together with our customers, that automobiles are more economical, aircraft are lighter, wind turbines and electricity plants are more efficient, buildings are more modern, and packaging is more ecological.
  NALCO achieves 'Excellent' Ratings for FY 2012-13
    With reference to the MoU signed with Ministry of Mines, Government of India, National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO) has got 'Excellent' MoU score of 1.5 by the Department of Public Enterprises for its outstanding performance in 2012-13. NALCO had last achieved the 'Excellent' MoU score in FY 2006-07. Besides, during the FY 2012-13, NALCO has also been rated as 'Excellent' with a score of 97.5 for compliance with guidelines on Corporate Governance for CPSEs. During the financial year 2012-13 NALCO has reported a highest ever net sales of Rs.7247 crore against a target of Rs.7073 crore. This represents an increase of 2.46% against the MoU target. The company reported a net profit of Rs. 593 crore with metal sale of 4, 03,102 tonnes and alumina sale of 9, 84,722 tonnes in the financial year 2012-13. NALCO also produced highest-ever bauxite of 54.19 lakh tonnes and highest-ever alumina of 18.02 lakh tonnes in 2012-13. During the period, the company also generated 6076 units of power from its Captive Power Plant. Moreover, NALCO's significant achievements and activities towards CSR, Sustainable Development and R&D also contributed towards company's excellent ratings.
It may be mentioned that as part of MoU on harnessing renewable energy sources, NALCO has entered into a new business of wind power generation with commissioning of 50.4 MW wind power plant at Gandikota in Andhra Pradesh at an investment of Rs. 274 crore, which was synchronized in December, 2012 and sale of power has been commenced.
  EU Aluminium Can Recycle at Record Level
    The overall recycling rate for aluminium beverage cans among EU member states increased by 2.4 percentage points to a record 68% in 2011. When including collection of cans in the remaining European countries and Turkey, this means that more than 25 billion cans were recycled in that year, according to the European Aluminium Association (EAA).
The organisation is confident that the aluminium beverage can recycling rate will continue to increase towards the voluntary targets set by the industry for 2015 (75%) and 2020 (80%). But in order to achieve these ambitious levels, the EAA underlines that it is important for the full value chain involved in the recycling of cans to continue to invest in existing and additional collection and sorting facilities.
According to the EAA, extended producer responsibility schemes should: recognise the scrap value of well-sorted aluminium packaging fractions; and, together with the local authorities responsible for the collection of various packaging (and household) waste streams, use modern sorting technologies such as advanced eddy-current separators.
The organisation also highlights the importance of awareness campaigns in focusing on the need for collections and recycling to extend to the 'out-of-home' cans consumed in the workplace or at festivals and sporting events.
In view of the upcoming revision of the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, the EAA stresses the need for more ambitious household packaging recycling goals, including the gradual phasing-out of landfill of all recyclables such as aluminium and other metal packaging.
   K. C. Samal Appointed as Nalco's New Director (Finance)
    K.C. Samal has assumed the office of Director (Finance) at National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO) recently. Prior to this assignment, he was working as the Executive Director (Finance) of the company. A fellow member of Institute of Cost Accountants of India, Shri Samal has significant exposure in the areas of Treasury Functions, Foreign Exchange Management, Corporate Accounts, and Budgeting & Control. He has played a key role in large-scale computerization in Finance, Capital Restructuring, Foreign Debt Management, introducing Risk Management against Foreign Exchange exposure. He is associated with various academic institutions as visiting faculty like XIMB, Utkal University, KIIT, and ICAI. He is representing Nalco on the Board of Joint Venture Company – Angul Aluminium Park Ltd. and NPCIL-NALCO Power Company Ltd. He was a part of the team to institute MoU System of Central PSUs.
  China Raises Standards for Non-ferrous Metal Industries
    Chinese authorities recently released a set of improved standards on non-ferrous metal industries as part of the effort to reduce pollution.
The standards require strict pollutant and solid waste disposal in cement production, as well as pollutant discharge in lead and zinc industries, according to a statement jointly issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. Particulate matter emissions in cement production will see a reduction of 770,000 tonnes from the current 2 to 2.5 million tonnes, according to the statement.
Cement industry nitrogen oxide emissions will decrease by 980,000 tonnes from the current 1.9 to 2.2 million tonnes, the statement added. A total of 2.21 billion tonnes of cement were produced in China in 2012, accounting for 56 percent of the total world output. The new standards will be applied for newly established companies starting on March 1, 2014, and the current standards will remain applicable to the operating companies until July 1, 2015, it added.
  Outotec to Deliver Minerals Processing Technology to Norilsk Nickel in Russia
    Outotec has signed a contract with Norilsk Nickel for the delivery of minerals processing technology and equipment to the second phase expansion of the Talnakh copper-nickel concentrator in the Krasnoyarsky Region in Russia. The parties do not disclose the contract price, but the value of comparable deliveries is typically EUR 60-80 million. The order has been booked in Outotec's fourth quarter 2013 order intake.
Outotec delivers fully automated flotation complex with performance guarantees including Outotec TankCell® flotation cells in different sizes as well as Outotec® High Rate thickeners, electrification and a process control system. In addition, Outotec provides plant commissioning services and spare parts for two years.
Deliveries are scheduled to be completed in early 2015. Once fully operational in 2016 the Talnakh concentrator complex will process annually over 10 million tonnes of ore. The Talnakh phase 1 already uses Outotec flotation technologies, and now agreed contract follows that delivery.
"Outotec and Norilsk Nickel have established a trusted partnership over the decades by completing a number of projects together. It is delightful that our flotation and thickening innovations have proved their performance at the existing Norilsk Nickel operations and we can again serve as a partner in implementing modern technology for reduced processing costs and higher efficiency", notes Peter Weber, President of EMEA region at Outotec.
  Japanese Car Recyclers Fear Export Increase
    Japanese car recyclers are concerned that an increase in exports of end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) will result in a decline in supply to the domestic market.
In the past eight years, the number of old cars accepted under Japan's Automobile Recycling Law has surpassed 30 million units - 'a milestone', says the Japan Automobile Recycling Promotion Center.
However, some major players such as car dealers and repair factories are increasingly taking old cars to auctions where many of the vehicles sold are likely to be exported.
As a result, there could be a decline in ELVs coming forward to the domestic market, warns the car recyclers' body.
  Emirates Extrusion to Invest AED 13 Million for New Production Line at Dubai plant
    Emirates Extrusion Factory a leading aluminium extrusion company in the UAE and a subsidiary of Masharie LLC - the private equity arm of Dubai Investments PJSC [DI], has announced plans to add a new production line at its aluminium extrusion plant in Techno Park, Dubai entailing an investment of AED 13 million.
The new line, to be added by mid-2014, will further augment the production capacity to 6,000 Metric Tonnes and will go a long way in bolstering the company's leadership in the sector. This new line will boost the production of wooden finish and powder-coated aluminium, which augurs well for EEF amidst surging demand due to the construction boom in the region.
The company, which reported annual turnover of AED 190 million in 2012, also unveiled plans to aggressively target the export markets in the wake of burgeoning construction activity across Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Yemen and Africa. EEF currently exports nearly 60-70% of its production to various countries across the Middle East and Africa.
Khalfan Al Suwaidi, EEF Managing Director, said: "The resurgence of the construction industry across the GCC and beyond is indeed good news for Emirates Extrusion, and we plan to cater to this inherent demand for extruded aluminium through our new production line. Construction takes a major chunk of our business - nearly 80%, with the rest being earmarked for industrial downstream projects. The new line will not only go a long way in escalating our overall output but also help us offer the most reliable aluminium profiles to the market."
He added: "At EEF, we will continue to focus on exports in the medium to long-term, as there is a huge demand for our products in growing markets across the GCC, the Middle East, Levant and Africa. We also expect increased demand from the local UAE market following Dubai's winning bid for Expo 2020, which reflects the immense growth potential on offer."
  China's Nickel-Ore Supply Seen Lasting 6 Months After Ban
    Chinese mills that rely on low-grade ore from Indonesia to produce nickel pig iron, a substitute for the refined metal, have built stockpiles to last about six months, a Bloomberg News survey shows.
Inventory at factory warehouses and ports is almost 29 million metric tons, enough to sustain output at last year's pace until July, according to the average of nine projections from smelters, miners, traders and analysts based in China. That compares with about 32 million tons estimated by Macquarie Group Ltd. Small and medium-sized plants have enough material to last three to four months, the respondents said.
The global nickel market may swing into a deficit next year after Indonesia, the biggest producer of the mined metal, restricted shipments starting Jan. 12, Macquarie and Barclays Plc predict. Chinese NPI accounts for about 25 percent of world nickel supply, according to Macquarie.
“NPI will go up if prices of ore and refined metal surge,” said Zhu Renguo, a Shanghai-based purchasing manager with Jiangsu Baotong Nickel Industry Co., who has worked in the industry for more than 30 years. “We are pretty confident that we can transfer higher costs to the downstream industry.”
  Increase in Aluminium Usage in Automotive to Drive the Aluminium Scraps Market in the Middle East
    The Middle East (ME) aluminium scrap market is expected to witness a surge by 2015, according to Frost & Sullivan projections. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have set targets to reduce vehicle weight by 10 to 15 per cent to increase fuel efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emission, and hence aluminium could contribute substantially to this initiative.
Aluminium usage in automotive is likely to be incorporated for manufacturing of cylinder heads, engine block, suspension and wheels. Aluminium wheels and engine scrap contribute to nearly 16 per cent of overall EOL (End of Life) scrap generated in the ME.
The luxury passenger car industry's best practices in connection with weight and carbon emission reduction, and increased fuel economy, are slowly being adopted into mass market small and mid-sized cars and will be the key market driver going forward for emerging aluminium-based applications. Usually, 100 kg weight reduction in passenger cars can yield 2-3 per cent increase in fuel efficiency and 3.5 grams per km emission reduction of carbon dioxide. European passenger luxury cars contain 130-140 kg of aluminium content, which is set to increase to 170-180 kg by 2018; this will further boost the fuel economy of cars.
Aluminium recycling is a long term viable option for the region due to the less intense nature of the process. According to Frost & Sullivan, energy consumption in recycling is 95 per cent lower than primary production, giving it an upper hand in industries like packaging and automotive. Aluminium packaging, in fact, pays more than its own recycling cost and subsidises the recycle stream for all other packaging materials: 1 kg of aluminium can replace 3 kg of iron/steel in conventional vehicles.
“Compared to global standards, the ME has a nominal rate of 20 per cent aluminium recycling, which includes smelter re-melting, scrap generation and secondary re-melting,” said Venkatesan Subramanian, Vice President and Global Leader, Metals and Minerals, Frost & Sullivan.
According to Frost & Sullivan, the ME scrap generation market is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 9.8 per cent. The majority of this generation is expected from used beverage cans, contributing 40 per cent, followed by 29 per cent from extrusion, and 13 per cent from engines. The smelter and downstream production markets are also estimated to grow at a CAGR of 9.8 per cent and 7.3 per cent, respectively. The ME aluminium dross recycling industry will get a major boost from smelter ramp-up in the region and increase in downstream re-melting facilities. Smelter production is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.3 per cent. Local smelters are expected to increase their production capacities from 4 Million Metric Tonnes (MT) in 2012 to 7 Million MT by 2018.
  International Lead Association and ILA-Europe Appoint New Chairmen
    Following the announcement that Martin Boddy, Chairman of both ILA and ILA-Europe is stepping down from both roles, two new chairmen have been appointed in his place.
Aaron Miller, V. P. Operations & Chief Operating Officer of US-based The Doe Run Company, becomes ILA Chairman with Florian von Steinkeller, Executive General Manager, Britannia Refined Metals in the UK appointed Chairman of ILA-Europe.
Mr Miller oversees Doe Run's mine, smelting, recycling and fabrication operations. Before his appointment as COO at Doe Run in 2012, he was vice president of environmental affairs where he used his 20 years of experience in the environmental compliance field to guide the company's environmental sustainability strategy.
Mr Miller launched Doe Run's company-wide environmental stewardship program and developed the Enterprise Task Management System (ETMS), which tracks more than 6,000 monthly environmental tasks. After being appointed as Chairman Aaron Miller said: “These are challenging times for the lead industry and I am delighted to be working with the ILA to ensure the industry's future is profitable and sustainable.”
Florian von Steinkeller moved to his current position at Britannia Refined Metals in April 2012. Britannia Refined Metals is Europe's largest primary lead producer and is a standalone company within the Glencore Xstrata Group, one of the world's largest global diversified natural resource companies.
Mr Von Steinkeller joined Xstrata (now Glencore Xstrata) in 2008 to help set up the Corporate head office for Xstrata's Zinc-Lead-Silver assets in Australia. Before Glencore Xstrata, he worked at Royal Dutch Shell Group for 10 years where he fulfilled a number of senior roles in the downstream business.
Florian von Steinkeller said: “The lead industry faces both new opportunities and threats at a pace we have never seen before which is why I am pleased to be working alongside the ILA to ensure that our European industry remains a key player globally.”
Martin Boddy, of Ecobat has worked in the lead industry for 28 years and for much of this time he has been actively involved in supporting the associations.
ILA Managing Director Andy Bush said: “In his longstanding role as an ILA Executive Committee member, and more recently as Chairman, Martin has brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the associations. On behalf of all members I would like to take this opportunity to thank Martin for his tremendous contribution and to wish him all the best for the future. “
  UAE Steps on to the Global Aluminium Arena
    The planned merger of the two big UAE aluminium smelters has ushered in a flurry of natural resource agreements as the economy enters a new phase of diversification.
The tie-up between Dubai Aluminium (Dubal), the biggest smelter in the Arabian Gulf region, and Abu Dhabi's Emirates Aluminium is expected to create a US$15 billion enterprise that will be the world's fifth largest aluminium producer by output by 2014, when Emal's second-phase expansion finishes as per news report in 'The National'.
At that point the combined capacity of the two smelters is expected to be 2.4 million tonnes a year.To feed this goliath, the Emirates has struck a number of related deals.
“The aluminium industry in UAE has now moved from being a regional company to an international company because they have interests in the raw material bauxite in different locations around the world,” said Mahmood Daylami, the secretary general of the non-profit Gulf Aluminium Council.
“For the last 30 years, the UAE and the rest of the Gulf till today purchased their raw material from various sources in the world, but mainly from Australia. However, it is strategically important to have your own source of raw material.”
The latest UAE purchase agreement involves a $5bn investment in Guinea for a bauxite mine, alumina refinery and a port in the world's top supplier of bauxite, the raw material used in aluminium production. Alumina is refined bauxite that is used in smelters.
  Ma'aden Expands Aluminum Exports
    The Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma'aden) announced on recently that it has concluded several contracts to supply Asian customers with over 300 KMT of primary aluminum throughout 2014, complementing the 50 KMT in supply agreements made with local and Turkey customers.
“we announce that Ma'aden has arrived as a global primary aluminum supplier,” said Ma'aden Aluminum Vice President Eng. Khalid Al Luhaidan as per report in Saudi Gazette. “Together, these supply agreements not only meet a significant portion of Asian demand, but they also represent an important milestone in our journey to becoming a world class minerals enterprise”.
The 2014 supply contracts concluded by Ma'aden commit the company to deliver product to domestic buyers within Saudi Arabia; to regional buyers in Turkey; and to Asian buyers in Japan, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and other SE Asian countries.
Ma'aden Aluminum Marketing and Logistics Director Eng. Dhari Al-Shunaifi is focused on the future: “We have signed a number of key sales agreements with major partners in the region and our higher production volumes in 2014 onward will allow Ma'aden to further build on this success by expanding our geographic marketing and global sales footprint. Ma'aden positions itself as a strategic primary supplier to Asian markets, mainly Japan and Korea where we will be one of the biggest suppliers starting from 2014,” he added.
During 2014, Ma'aden's flagship aluminum smelter at Ras Al Khair will reach full production capacity of 740,000 tons of high quality primary aluminum products. The smelter is part of the Ma'aden / Alcoa joint venture which, when completed in late 2014, will represent the world's largest vertically integrated aluminum project. As majority partner in this joint venture, Ma'aden will take a 74.9 percent share of the output. Ma'aden has been building its marketing capacity in order to support local Saudi economic growth as well as penetrate the highly competitive markets in Asia.
  Copper Gains as Rebounding Economies may Spur Demand
    Copper rose in London, capping the first weekly gain since December, amid speculation that demand for the metal will strengthen as economies accelerate.
The pace of U.S. home construction last year was the fastest since 2007, government data showed today. Building accounts for about 40 percent of demand, according to the Copper Development Association. The World Bank lifted its forecast for 2014 global economic growth this week to 3.2 percent from a June projection of 3 percent.
“Demand can be expected to rise quite substantially once the global economy picks up speed again,” Commerzbank AG analysts including Frankfurt-based Daniel Briesemann said in a report. “The market is overestimating supplies.”
Copper for delivery in three months gained 0.4 percent to settle at $7,340 a metric ton ($3.33 a pound) at 5:52 p.m. on the London Metal Exchange. Commerz bank said.
  Alcoa Completes $300 Million Automotive Expansion
    Alcoa has completed a $300 million expansion at its Davenport, Iowa facility dedicated to supplying aluminium sheet products to the automotive industry.
Alcoa executives made the announcement as the 2014 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit displays a number of vehicles featuring large increases in aluminium content.
According to automakers, demand for aluminium to produce vehicles - already the second-most-used material used to make cars today - is expected to nearly double by 2025. The amount of aluminium body sheet content in North American vehicles is expected to quadruple by 2015 and increase tenfold by 2025 from 2012 levels.
“2014 marks the beginning of dramatic growth for aluminium in the auto sector,” said Klaus Kleinfeld, Alcoa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Automakers are increasingly choosing aluminium as a cost-effective way to improve the performance, safety, durability and fuel efficiency of their vehicles. Our project in Iowa is the first of three capacity expansions we have underway to meet this growing demand.”
In addition to its expansion in Iowa, for which long-term supply agreements have been secured, Alcoa is adding automotive capacity in Alcoa, Tennessee which is scheduled to be complete in mid-2015; and at its joint venture rolling mill in Saudi Arabia, to be complete by the end of 2014. Alcoa is investing approximately $670 million in the three expansions.
  Indonesian mineral export law a threat to China's aluminium production
    China's stranglehold on the global aluminium industry could be weakened by changes to export laws in Indonesia, according to American giant Alcoa. Indonesia on recently enforced a long-awaited mineral export law that effectively bans unprocessed ores from leaving Indonesian shores as per report in The Sydney morning herald . The policy is designed to force companies to build processing plants and other downstream infrastructure on Indonesian soil, and pundits expect it to affect the trade of bauxite and nickel in particular, and possibly tin.
China imports close to a quarter of its bauxite - which is the initial raw ingredient in the production of aluminium - from Indonesia, and Alcoa chairman Klaus Kleinfeld said the ban could force China to curtail some of its refining and smelting capacity.
''China is nervous, and you can see that by their actions,'' he said, in reference to China's increased buying of bauxite over recent months.
The Chinese aluminium industry has built up more than nine months' worth of bauxite in stockpiles, and Mr Kleinfeld said that was a deliberate strategy in anticipation of the Indonesian ban.
''They are preparing for something to happen in their market,'' he said.
Australia has large reserves of bauxite in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory, and miners of the commodity - including BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto - could benefit if Indonesia limits its exports. Some British analysts have speculated that the Indonesian ban is the biggest supply risk to face nickel and aluminium markets in recent years, while Macquarie analysts also highlighted it in recent research notes.
''In our view, alternative Pacific Basin suppliers will not be able to totally offset the drop in Indonesian exports,'' said Macquarie analysts.
  Growth in Downstream Demand will Support Higher Prices for Nonferrous Metals
    In the five years to 2018, growth in downstream demand will support higher prices for nonferrous metals, benefiting industry revenue and profit. For these reasons, industry research firm IBIS World has updated a report on the Nonferrous Metal Foundry Products Manufacturing industry in its growing industry report collection.
The Nonferrous Metal Foundry Products Manufacturing industry relies heavily on demand from the industrial sector, especially automobile manufacturing. Following the subprime mortgage crisis, banks increasingly restricted consumers' access to credit. At the same time, escalating unemployment dramatically reduced disposable income levels. “Demand for automobiles took a dive because consumers were unable to take out a loan or pay out of pocket for a new car,” according to IBIS World Industry Analyst Leah Goddard. As automakers' revenue plunged 36.5% in 2009, demand for nonferrous metal foundry products fell. In the five years to 2013, industry revenue is projected to decline at an annualized rate of 2.3%, despite substantial gains in 2010 and 2011 as demand resurfaced with improving economic conditions and rising industrial activity. As automakers expand production in 2013, industry revenue is expected to increase 1.3% to $12.5 billion.
In addition to downstream demand, the industry is greatly impacted by changes in nonferrous metal prices because foundries purchase, process and resell these metals. Nonferrous metals, such as aluminum, copper and titanium, are distinguished from ferrous metals, such as steel, in that they do not contain iron. Industry players can often pass on higher input costs to customers, but rising prices during a period of low demand hurt industry revenue and profit. In 2008, prices rose because of increased international demand for metals, but decreased domestic demand forced foundries to lower selling prices to attract customers. “The price of aluminum and other nonferrous metals have been highly volatile, and many foundries have been unable to deal with fluctuating costs and lower revenue,” says Goddard. Narrow or negative profit margins have caused companies to exit the industry or merge with larger players. In the five years to 2013, the number of enterprises is expected to decrease at an average annual rate of 3.7% to 957 foundries.
The industry will continue to globalize and consolidate to meet the mounting needs of its customers. In the five years to 2018, growth in downstream demand will support higher prices for nonferrous metals, benefiting industry revenue and profit. Furthermore, the automotive industry is increasingly using lighter nonferrous metals, such as aluminum and magnesium, to reduce motor vehicle weight.
  Zincox Resources Boss Predicts 'Turnaround Year’
    The executive chairman of ZincOx Resources has tipped 2014 to be the year the zinc recycling specialist sees a change in fortunes after suffering a few teething problems in 2013. Andrew Woollett said “the company's wholly-owned Korean Recycling Plant (KRP), reportedly the biggest of its kind in Asia, is in the final months of ramp-up to full production, which is on track for the second quarter of 2014”. He also believes an improving zinc price, which “recently seems to be responding to the planned closure of major zinc mines”, will also make it a good year to be a ZincOx shareholder.
The average London Metals Exchange zinc price in 2013 was US$1,909 per tonne, but this has risen to US$2,050 recently, which will significantly enhance the company's earnings profile.
ZincOx dealt with a number of maintenance and repair issues in 2013, which hampered the ramp-up of KRP. In November, corrosion to some of the welds prompted the company to close one line of heat exchangers – a problem which was fixed the following month.
This, along with small repairs to the furnaces, meant limited production in the final two months of 2013 as full-year production reached 24,577 tonnes, translating into revenues upwards of US$26mln.
January and February are expected to be full operating months, while March will see a short stoppage for maintenance.
Chairman Woollett added: “We are very satisfied with the recent performance of the blind flange concept which enabled production to continue while one line of heat exchangers was repaired.
“The timing of the refractory repair in December was unfortunate as it stalled our ramp-up momentum, but this has already been re-established and we remain confident of achieving targeted full capacity.”
Broker Investec acknowledged the teething problems experienced by ZincOx in the development of its first full-scale plant.
“We hope that the learning process will ensure that future similar developments will be possible without so many problems as the company will have learnt from the process,” Investec said. It is holding out for a stable and consistent operational performance, as is peer finnCap.
“The shares remain oversold but require firm evidence of a sustained move into profitability before a rerating can take place,” it said. The shares rose 1.8% to 14p each.
  Aluminium Leap for Ford
    Ford's latest vehicle, the F-150, boasts a body built 'almost entirely' out of aluminium. Use of the light metal trims 700 pounds (317 kg) from the weight of the 5000-pound (2268 kg) vehicle. This represents 'a giant leap forward in truck technology', says Ford, adding that most manufacturers still rely on much heavier steel. No less than 97% of the body of the F-150 comprises 'high-strength, military-grade aluminium alloy' - the most extensive use of aluminium ever in a truck, Ford claims. This is in line with the company's mission to pursue innovation over traditional design. 'You're either moving ahead and you're improving and you're making the vehicle more valuable and more useful to the customer or you're not,' said Ford's chief executive Alan Mulally.
While aluminium is more expensive than steel, Ford engineers expect the company will make up the premium by reducing its recycling costs. There will be less metal to recycle, they argue, as the engine and other components have been slimmed down.
  Midas Resources Hits High Grade Copper Heights Drilling at Overlander, Mt Isa
    Midas Resources should open higher this morning after revealing high-grade copper results near surface from drilling at the Overlander North and South Prospects within its Mount Isa project in Queensland. Strong copper results included 14 metres at 2.62% copper, 0.12 grams per tonne gold and 575 parts per million from 76 metres, which included 6 metres at 3.73% copper. Midas is not short on expertise in the Mount Isa region with ex-boss of Syndicated Metals Russell Davis appointed as chairman of Midas this week. Davis is also a substantial shareholder with a 7.48% stake.
The mineralised shear zone is largely untested between, and along-strike from both prospects. The Overlander prospect lies 6 kilometres west of Midas's Kalman Copper-Gold-Molybdenum-Rhenium deposit and is interpreted to form part of a mineralised shear zone extending northwards from the known Andy's Hill iron oxide copper-gold prospect in the south, to Overlander North.
The results show potential for a significant sulphide copper resource to boost Midas's existing copper-gold-molybdenum-rhenium resource at Kalman. Drilling also intercepted extensive alteration and mineralisation interpreted to be related to the large “Overlander” magnetic anomaly.
  China Zhuzhou Smelter's 2013 Zinc Output Hits Record High of 370,800 Mt
    China's Zhuzhou Smelter produced 370,800 mt of zinc in 2013, up 16% year on year, a company official recently. Parent company Hunan Nonferrous Metals said in a statement Wednesday that that Zhuzhou's 2013 zinc production had reached a historical high, without disclosing the actual output. It added that the increase was due to better handling of raw materials and higher efficiency in terms of power consumption.
The company did not disclose its lead output for 2013. Zhuzhou Smelter, based in China's Hunan province, had said earlier that it produced a combined 306,500 mt of zinc and lead in the first half of 2013, up 13.9% year on year. Zhuzhou Smelter has a refined zinc capacity of around 500,000 mt/year and a refined lead capacity of 200,000 mt/year. It is a subsidiary of Hunan Nonferrous Metals, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
  Smelter Cuts, Finance Deals Send Aluminum Premiums toward Record
    Aluminum premiums, or costs to get metal out of storage, have soared to all-time highs in the United States with Europe and Asia close behind as smelters shut and spare metal is snatched up by traders for collateral in financing deals. The rise in premiums highlights the London Metal Exchange's (LME) limited ability to cool a market where low interest rates continue to whet appetites for locking up aluminum as a form of investment. The LME, the world's largest metals marketplace, announced big changes to its metals storage system in November after years of complaints about wait times of more than a year and large premiums to withdraw metal from the warehouses it monitors. It outlined plans to slash waiting times to a maximum of 50 days, among other measures, which analysts and manufacturers had hoped would lead to lower premiums especially given that the aluminum market is oversupplied.
But the benchmark Platts U.S. Midwest aluminum premium jumped by three U.S. cents per pound to 15 U.S. cents per pound of metal over the LME cash price late last week, the pricing agency said. "The fact that we are still trading at 15 cents today suggests that this was not a fluke and that we will likely stay at elevated levels for some time across all geographies," INTL FC Stone analyst Ed Meir said.
U.S. producer Ormet Corp said last October it would close its 270,000 tonne per year aluminum smelter in Hannibal, Ohio, casualty of historically low prices and high power costs.
Low prices and high energy costs have pushed Western producers to slash capacity, with smelter closures gathering pace in recent months. "We're hearing that metal is quite tight, we're hearing that possibly the closure of Ormet has something to do with it," he added. Dutch smelter Aluminium Delfzijl, which produces more than 110,000 tonnes of new aluminium a year, said it had filed for bankruptcy on December 30.
  Philippines Sees Nickel Boon on Indonesia's Ban : Southeast Asia
    The ban on mineral-ore exports from Indonesia, the world's biggest nickel producer, is poised to benefit neighboring miners in the Philippines, which are predicting an increase in sales. Shares of Nickel Asia (NIKL) Corp. advanced to the highest level since July as reported by Bloomberg reports .
The ban is positive as demand and prices for Philippine supplies will increase, according to Emmanuel Samson, chief financial officer at Nickel Asia. The Taguig City-based company accounts for about a third of Philippine output, Samson said in a telephone interview.
While the Indonesian ban is intended to encourage local processing and boost the value of commodity shipments from Southeast's Asia's largest economy, the curbs may hand an advantage to rival producers such as Nickel Asia. Buyers in China, the top user, stockpiled ore before the ban and it may take as long as six months to work off that extra inventory, according to Samson. Producers in China also need to adjust to the lower grade of ore that comes from the Philippines, he said.
“If they do that, it would be very easy for us to ramp up production,” Samson said in an interview Jan. 9. “We think the increase is not going to be until such time that the inventory level will come down,” he said, referring to prices.
Refined-nickel futures jumped as much as 2.4 percent to $14,190 a ton today on the London Metal Exchange, the highest level in two weeks, on concern supplies will be reduced. The price may average $15,500 this year, according to an ABN Amro Bank NV report on Jan. 3 that cited the curbs in Indonesia and improved demand for the metal on the global economic recovery. Last year's average was $15,081.
  Significant Decrease in Profit Expected : SMS Group
    As in 2012, the order intake by the SMS group will be below target for 2013. A net result well short of the previous year is anticipated. Dr. Joachim Schönbeck, spokesman of SMS Holding GmbH, said: “Low utilization of capacities and continuing high raw materials prices are making sales difficult for our customers. That's why they have been extremely reluctant to invest again this year. Just like last year, order intake has fallen behind our forecasts. So once again, we have to be ready for under-utilization of capacity in some areas in 2014.”
This year, the number of employees including apprentices increased to some 14,000 (2012: 11,822). The reasons are the first consolidation of Paul Wurth as well as takeovers of a few smaller companies, but also new jobs in China and India.
Securing quality – cutting costs To ensure high quality, SMS remains committed to producing the most complex components of its machinery and plants in Germany. That's why the company invested heavily over recent years in upgrading its facilities in Hilchenbach and Mönchengladbach. Yet, parallel to these measures, it also expanded its production capacity in China. The focus here is on the provision of better customer services locally and the construction of machines specifically designed for the Chinese market. It is a similar picture on the Indian market, where another workshop is currently under construction and scheduled to start operations in 2014. Overall, the company is working on cutting manufacturing costs even more with production-optimized design plus greater efficiency in engineering, manufacturing, and logistics. Opportunities in green technology service and revamps.
The SMS group has identified a surge in demand for green technology solutions, meanwhile also a big issue on the Chinese market. The same goes for small revamps with short return-on-investment periods. According to Schönbeck, “There is a vast potential for future growth here.”