NORTH AMERICAN MORNING BRIEF 23/05: Sterlite’s Tuticorin expansion halt; CCIC Canada to inspect China-bound scrap; Rio Tinto’s Grasberg sale still up

The latest metal markets news and price moves to start the North American day on Wednesday May 23.

Base metals on the London Metal Exchange were mostly lower during morning trading, with tin recording the only positive move despite continued strength in lead and nickel prices.

Falling 1.8% over the morning, copper’s three-month price has lost most of Tuesday’s gains, with the red metal drifting back towards its $6,800 per tonne support level.

Despite ongoing volatility in global stocks, partly due to China’s ban on imported scrap copper, the metal’s supply-demand dynamics continue to disappoint.

Coupled with easing trade relations between the United States and China – exemplified in China’s cut on import duty for passenger cars to 15%, further opening the Chinese economy – copper prices continue to display broad steadiness.

Here is how the LME base metals complex looked at 13.14 pm London time:


The planned expansion of Sterlite Copper’s Tuticorin smelter has been called to a halt by the Indian court after a series of local protests, Sterlite’s parent company said on Wednesday May 23. The proposed expansion will make it the world’s second largest single smelter.

A bottleneck of non-ferrous scrap shipments in the United States could be somewhat alleviated as material earmarked for China now can be temporarily inspected by China’s Canadian customs inspection division.

Taiwan’s ferrous scrap imports surged by 34% on the year in March, according to the territory’s customs agency.

Tokyo Steel has increased the purchasing price for overland arrivals of H2-grade scrap at its Utsunomiya plant this week. The Japanese steelmaker is paying ¥36,000 ($324) per tonne at Utsunomiya from Wednesday May 23 onward, up ¥500 per tonne from its last price.

Russia’s largest steelmaker, NLMK, is to upgrade one of the continuous casting lines at its Lipetsk facility to enable it to increase its slab output and expand its product range by 2020.

Vietnamese flat steel using China-origin substrate will face high duties if imported into the United States, the Department of Commerce said on May 21.

Chinese aluminium and steel imports into the United States will remain subjected to import tariffs imposed after Section 232 investigations despite both countries agreeing to hold off on a trade war.

Copper cathodes premiums increased over the past week across most major markets in Europe and the United States, while they remained flat in China amid lower liquidity.

Talks between Rio Tinto, PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Inalum) and Freeport-McMoRan regarding the sale of Rio Tinto’s stake in the Grasberg copper-gold mine in Indonesia are still ongoing, Rio Tinto said in a statement on Wednesday May 23.

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