What was going on in metal markets as May ended? MB editor Alex Harrison looks back at the week

Duty-paid aluminium premiums transacted on a spot basis in Europe and third-quarter offers for Japan reached record levels of over $400 per tonne in a suppliers’ market during the last week of May.

Metal Bulletin senior correspondents Jethro Wookey and Shivani Singh have detailed accounts of developments in Europe, where producers are pushing floating-rate contacts, and in Japan, where bids are coming in at over $400 per tonne.

The latest on Europe is here.

A May 30 despatch on Japan’s third-quarter contract talks is here.

Or check out the latest deals in Metal Bulletin’s aluminium trade log for May.

Rio Tinto Alcan has appointed a new ceo, after Jacynthe Cote announced she was stepping down

The LME faces a new lawsuit, not about aluminium warehousing on this occasion, but zinc.

MB sister publication American Metal Market interviewed the ceo of the company that brought the case. Richard Brooks of Duncan Galvanizing said it was not launched for gain, but to understand what was going on with zinc premiums, which have more than trebled over the past four years.

Read the interview here.

Metal Bulletin’s 62% Fe iron ore index dropped by almost $6 per tonne on Friday May 30 – one to watch for the base metal markets, which have sometimes taken direction from iron ore recently.

Metal Bulletin wrote about the pressures to consolidate, and what militated against consolidation, in China’s cobalt industry back in 2011.

Take a look at a short piece from back then: Big fish, small fish and a titanic struggle in cobalt.

The struggle continues three years on. In China a “complete disconnect” has separated the price cobalt salt makers can sell their product for, and the price they have to pay for feed. “They all want to be the last man standing.” Find out more here.

Selenium prices in China, meanwhile, are underpinned by demand from the glass and manganese sectors.

5N Plus and First Solar signed a cadmium-telluride deal going out until 2019. President and ceo of 5N Plus Jacques L’Ecuyer said that while it “conceded competitive pricing”, that would be “largely compensated for over the course of the next quarters by the increase of sales volume”. Read more here.

The spread narrowed between the two grades of manganese ore for which Metal Bulletin calculates index prices.

A 300,000-tpy ferro-chrome smelter has come online in Shanxi province.

Respondents to a Metal Bulletin poll said the quarterly benchmark for charge and high-carbon ferro-chrome should be abandoned immediately.

Lord Copper took another look at nickel.

Barclays and a former gold trader at the bank were hit with big fines in May.

One from the archive: discussion of Apple’s new operating system for its computers prompted us to look back at this piece on Steve Jobs: the man who made aluminium sexy.

Check out the handy PDF download of our price specification document here.

Metal Bulletin upgraded its app for iPad and iPhone to include all the prices we assess, index and publish.