The Price of Power

At a time when demand is set to grow faster than new supply, low aluminium prices are becoming more and more of a frustration on producers. The factors keeping prices down—global-scale economic uncertainty and slowing growth—are not reducing input costs by the same degree, putting many aluminium producers in an uncomfortable position.


COBALT June 2019
Cobalt: A Crucial Conundrum

Ethical controversies might be nothing new in the mining industry, but very few topics have caught the attention of businesses and consumers in the way that cobalt production has. In 2016, a wave of media coverage swept the Democratic Republic of Congo into the public eye, coining the phrase “blood batteries” to refer to technology that contains cobalt mined in the poverty-riddled country.


COPPER July 2019
Capital Intensity of New Copper Mines

The new, large-scale Las Bambas, Cobre Panamá, Aktogay and Bozshakol mines have high capital intensities of more than US$6.6/lb of annual copper capacity. Las Bambas has a capital cost of US$6.6bn due to its remote location and the need to construct a new town, while Cobre Panamá’s US$5.48bn capex includes a new power plant and port facility and capacity for processing low-grade ores. Aktogay and Bozshakol also have low-grade ore, which requires greater ore volumes to be processed per tonne of copper production.


IRON ORE July 2019
The Iron Dichotomy

DRI, or Direct Reduction Iron, is a high-quality iron product that provides a suitable alternative to ferrous scrap, often used in Electric Arc Furnaces when scrap supply is low. It is necessary to use high-quality ferrous feeds for an EAF when the mini mill is producing higher-quality steel products. DRI is often briquetted for ease of transport and safety and is thus known as Hot Briquetted Iron (HBI). Whereas DRI is prone to spontaneous combustion during transport and sometimes even during heap storage, HBI is more stable. Hence, the additional expense of briquetting is justified by the improved safety.


LNG June 2019
The Big Bang

The last five years have seen an explosion of LNG—thankfully, in the metaphorical sense. The world has seen both existing and planned LNG production capacity soar, and very little of it has actually exploded: something we can be very thankful of.


Olive Downs Finally Gets the Go Ahead

Australia, the world’s largest producer of coking coal, remains at the forefront of new coal developments. AME forecasts that Australia will supply 187Mt of metallurgical coal bound to the global export market this year. Our analysts also estimate that Australia will maintain its position as the world’s largest supplier of metallurgical coal in the long-term.


NICKEL June 2019
Building up a Charge

Europe is in a tricky situation. Despite being a region that, under EU guidance, has ambitious electric vehicle ambitions in the relatively near term (the EU predicts huge growth in electric and hybrid cars, with annual sales figures reaching 7 million and 6 million, respectively, by 2030), its ability to manufacture EV batteries on a large scale and source the raw materials needed for such an endeavor are both currently limited.


OIL & GAS June 2019
Focus on Chile

The Chilean government recently announced that it would shut down all of its 28 coal-fired power plants by 2040 in an effort to become fully carbon-neutral by 2050. Eight of these plants will be closing over the next five years according to the country’s president. These plants generate 20% of the country’s power, or 23,000MW.


A Toxic Friendship

Russia has had to halt exports of crude oil to Europe via its Druzhba pipeline—which transports crude oil from Russia to Western Europe—after an organochloride contamination incident in late April. The contamination sent crude prices to a six-month high, reaching US$75 a barrel.


STEEL July 2019
Trouble at Taranto

Citing “cyclical market conditions”, ArcelorMittal has said that it will be temporarily laying off 1,400 workers from its recently-purchased Taranto steelworks in Italy. The 11.5Mtpa crude-steel capacity facility has had a long and troubled history, both with its ability to produce efficiently and its environmental management plans. Far from remaining a powerhouse of the European steel market, the site has largely fallen from grace, producing less than 6Mtpa of steel over 2016.


Homegrown Falls Short

The month of June saw widespread thermal coal supply tightness throughout China, resulting in the price spread for domestic 5000 NAR products over exports from Australia to increase 29% to US$24.02 in June.


ZINC June 2019
To Infinity and Beyond

American rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne and battery manufacturer ZAF Energy have recently teamed up to develop an energy storage system, combining their unique respective technologies to create a more efficient battery. The collaboration aims to use ZAF’s nickel-zinc batteries and Aerojet’s battery management system in order to extend battery life and reliability for aerospace and military applications.

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