Metal Bulletin’s Charlotte Radford reviews some of the key news and price moves from the past seven days.

Andrea Hotter spoke to US Zinc executive vp Tracy Baugh about the company’s plans to expand its production capacity.

Lord Copper looked at the potential for greater competition on the LME, should the exchange decide to allow cat III and cat IV members to trade directly on Select. The full piece is here.

The dramatic rise in trading volumes in the London Metal Exchange copper contract over the past decade has been underpinned by its dual use as an investment tool and a hedging mechanism for the physical market, Copper Price Briefing editor Mark Burton wrote.

Metal Bulletin’s Copper Concentrates Index stands at a 20-month low amid competition for clean cargoes. Morgan Stanley has forecast a 2% decline in copper treatment and refining charges in 2016.

Claire Hack spoke to EMED Mining ceo Alberto Lavandeira about progress at its flagship Rio Tinto copper project, and hopes for major increases to copper prices in the coming years. Read the interview here.

This week on the LME, copper prices fell below $6,000 after a rally saw prices exceed $6,300 for much of May. Our latest LME/SHFE rolling price report here.

A nationwide industrial standard released by China’s National Energy Administration is expected to reduce demand for the red metal as consumers favour regulated aluminium alloy cables, Goldman Sachs said in a note this week. The bank also reiterated its bearish 12-month forecast on copper of $5,200 per tonne. 

In other aluminium news, Aluminium Bahrain has opened a new sales office in Georgia, USA, to be run by its new sales manager for Alba Americas, Zac Jungers.

We wrapped up our series of articles on the aluminium contango and premiums. Find the summary here or read the series in full:

ALUMINIUM: The irresistible rise of the LME contango
ALUMINIUM: June 1988 – the big squeeze 
ALUMINIUM: The consumer view on long-term hedging
ALUMINIUM: The second producer generation
 
UK secondary aluminium ingot prices edged higher after our midweek pricing session as demand from European buyers returned and producers were able to hold a little more power in pricing talks. Jethro Wookey had the details.

Discussion over the future of the SHFE’s nickel contract continued has continued, after Jinchuan called for the exchange to accept foreign brands for delivery against its futures contracts. The approval of material from Norilsk Nickel is essential if the SHFE contract is to play a role on the global stage, Lord Copper wrote at the beginning of the week.

Elsewhere in the nickel market, Charles Menzock, owner of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Three Rivers Scrap Metal Inc, has been accused of conspiring to conceal the illegal source of nickel by evading reporting requirements on cash transactions. Find the story here.

Silico-manganese prices, meanwhile, started the week at a 17-month low as producers cut their offers to secure scarce consumer demand. In Tapped In, Metal Bulletin’s ores and alloys blog, Janie Davies looked at one rumoured silico-manganese transaction which has become the talk of the market. 

Indian silico-manganese prices slipped by $800 on chronic oversupply and scarce demand. Click here for all the commentary from Tuesday’s pricing session.

Manganese flake, antimony and cadmium were the most active minor metals in Wednesday’s pricing session. The latest changes are here

Molybdic oxide prices slipped below $7.50 per lb in Europe on Wednesday June 3, as news of a strike at Molymet’s MolymetNos plant in Chile failed to provide support.

We had a breakdown of molybdenum production figures in 2014 here.

Meanwhile, Andrea Hotter looked at the abundance of cheap assets in the mining sector, as potential buyers remain reluctant to invest.

In other company news, there remains no clear timeframe for when ferro-vanadium production will resume at Vanchem. Claire Hack had the story.

In people moves, Afarak has appointed Alistair Ruiters as ceo, succeeding Danko Konchar, who becomes business development director.

And finally, Umicore announced a review of its reporting structure ahead of the upcoming retirement of executive committee member and executive vp of recycling Hugo Morel. Find the details here.

Charlotte Radford 
charlotte.radford@metalbulletin.com