HIGHLIGHTS Germany energy debate; EC stainless trade case; MB Iron ore index

This week, the German parliament voted through a much debated reform of its renewable energy act (EEG).

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Although discounts for the renewable energy tax remained in place for high-users like steelmakers, the steel sector hit out at last minute changes affecting steel producers that generate power from by-products.

On the eve of the vote, president of the national steel federation WV Stahl Hans Jürgen Kerkhoff emphasised the importance of energy policy for the sector in an interview.

In Spain, tube maker Condesa’s future was called into question, as major overcapacity issues have reportedly driven the company to look for a buyer.

On the stainless side, the European Commission officially confirmed that it has launched an investigation into cold rolled (CR) stainless steel imported into the European Union from China and Taiwan.

Stainless steel exporters in China and Taiwan told Steel First that they were worried that the Commission’s case could lead to anti-dumping duties being imposed.

On the raw materials side, delegates at Metal Bulletin’s 20th iron ore conference in Stockholm, Sweden, were assured that Brazilian mining giant Vale will be a “reliable supplier” of iron ore no matter what the price.

Fidel Blanco, Vale’s head of iron ore sales to Europe, Africa and the Middle East, said the miner’s comparatively low production volumes would cushion it from further price declines and give it an advantage over smaller and newer producers.

On the coking coal side, several distressed cargoes were heard offered in the Asian seaborne market, with sellers looking to dispose of them at lower prices.

Traders were left wondering how long it would take before the market would pick up.

In the USA, Cliffs Natural Resources said it plans to temporarily idle its Pinnacle metallurgical coal mine in West Virginia, USA, owing to the poor conditions in the coking coal market.

Ukraine’s largest steelmaker, Metinvest, said it expects no disruption to its operations after Russia cut off gas supplies to the country earlier this month.

There was a splash of activity in the Turkey scrap market at the start of the week, however, the market inched down by the end of the week in the preparation of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan starting this weekend.

Steel traders from Eregli, in northern Turkey, organised a protest on June 20 against the sales policies of the country’s largest steelmaker Erdemir in Istanbul, saying that the company does not allocate steel to them, but expects them to approach steel service centres instead.

Erdemir said it only directs small-tonnage orders via steel service centres. The company also said, however, “a return to old-school practices such as direct sales to small traders would be incompatible with sustainability”.

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