Metal Bulletin deputy editor Fleur Ritzema takes a look back at some of the key stories from the past week.

Aluminium billet demand is back, but the lost production capacity is not.

Metal Bulletin’s Jethro Wookey revealed that with the difference between the European aluminium ingot and billet premiums more than 50% higher this year, billet production could be poised for a pick up. Find out more here. 

Hydro’s cfo told Metal Bulletin that primary aluminium production in the west still has a future - and that Hydro is looking for length at every stage of the business

Copper premiums were under pressure.

European premiums have dropped on the stronger supply of scrap that has resulted from higher copper prices. 

And Shanghai premiums for cargoes tied to warehouse receipts drifted lower amid light trading, as banks further tightened credit and the arbitrage was unfavourable. 

On the LME, zinc prices continued their remarkable rally, breaking through $2,400 per tonne as the week ended. But lead prices also gained traction, prompting talk of a possible lead-zinc switch

And financing deals and LME stocks were top of the agenda this week in nickel. London Metal Exchange inventories have risen to fresh highs as a result of metal in Asia being moved into the exchange storage system, and not, Metal Bulletin explains, owing to growing supply or faltering demand. 

Russia, meanwhile, will scrap export duties on refined nickel and copper cathode from August, more than two years ahead of the World Trade Organization deadline. Copper rod production in the country may be restructured as a result. 

And with tension growing between Russia and Ukraine, Metal Bulletin has been reporting on what potential sanctions could mean for the increasingly concerned metals industry.

While sanctions have not yet hit major mining companies, chaos and confusion are likely to ensue following any sanctions that might affect them. Savvy commodities market participants may already be working out that there is potentially a way around them, Andrea Hotter writes. For all the insight, click here

As Reuters reported this week, the European Union may target state-owned Russian banks vital to financing Moscow’s faltering economy in the most serious sanctions so far over the Ukraine crisis under proposals considered by EU governments. 

But the Russian delegation to the WTO told a meeting of its General Council that sanctions against Russia violate the core commitments of the WTO, hinting that it would take matters to the group’s Dispute Settlement Body. 

Also this week, Metal Bulletin took a closer look at Chinese ferro-chrome profitability

And just what are at the key issues for LME brokers?

Intraday margining on execution business and the timely return of margins on give-up business are important issues. But how will LME Clear, which launches on September 22, deal with them? We put questions to the LME’s head of post-trade services, Trevor Spanner

Fleur Ritzema

Twitter: FleurRitzema_MB