WEEK IN BRIEF: Copper financing deals; dollar strength; cobalt interest; manganese alloy closures

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

Metal Bulletin’s Charlotte Radford takes a look at some of the key news from the past seven days.

This week saw the Metal Bulletin and American Metal Market Copper Seminar in New York, where Goldman Sachs reaffirmed its forecast for falling copper prices that could be near $5,200 per tonne over the next 12 months.

The seminar also heard that the copper industry will need to explore the opportunities provided by new technology to address the challenges of substitution, Andrea Hotter wrote.

And here is Metal Bulletin’s view on the copper concentrates market, as presented by Mark Burton at the seminar. 

In China, Metal Bulletin learnt that copper tube producer Hailiang Co is in discussions to take over its larger rival, Henan-based Golden Dragon. Kiki Kang had the story.

China’s copper imports dropped more than 16% last month on unfavourable arbitrage and slowing demand from end-users.

Rio Tinto ceo Jean-Sebastien Jacques spoke to Metal Bulletin about plans to grow and improve the performance of its copper division.

And here, London Metal Exchange copper committee member Harry Liu examines the effects of copper financing deals and looks at the potential for an end to this type of trade.

Much of this week’s activity on the London Metal Exchange was driven by currency movements, as a weaker dollar enabled copper to maintain prices above $6,000 on Wednesday. The dollar’s gains later in the week helped to push metal prices down, although the red metal saw some support in a report from Macquarie, which said “the copper market looks inadequately supplied towards the end of the decade […] An undersupplied market is a bullish market”.

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Meanwhile, the launch of the LME’s planned aluminium premium, steel scrap and rebar contracts has been postponed to coincide with an update of its clearing platform, LMEmercury, later in the year.

Andrea Hotter reported on US aluminium producer Alcoa’s request for documents revealing CFTC’s influence over the LME’s warehousing reforms.

Aluminium exports from China rose by 20.6% last month, according to the latest preliminary customs data.

Elsewhere in the market, increased construction spending in the USA is fuelling a rise in shipments of aluminium products.

The cobalt market is seeing signs of fresh interest despite sustained low prices. Deputy editor Fleur Ritzema looks at the reasons behind the pick-up. Find the latest pricing news here.

In the ores and alloys market, on Tuesday, BHP-spin off South32 announced it was delaying the restart of three furnaces at its manganese alloy operation in South Africa. A day later, Assmang confirmed it would close one of the four furnaces at its Cato Ridge smelter on low manganese alloy prices.

In Tapped In, Janie Davies looked at the impact of these closures on ferro-alloys prices. Commentary from Friday’s pricing session is here.

Meanwhile Evraz Highveld Steel and Vanadium’s Mapochs Mine returned to production following its closure in April. Tapped In looked at the volatility and disagreement ruling Europe’s ferro-vanadium market.

Production news also came from Largo Resources, posting record vanadium pentoxide production at its Maracas Menchen mine in May – the highest level since production began in August last year. The company is addressing delays and interruptions to the optimisation of the facility in Brazil. Claire Hack had the details.

Financial results came from Trafigura, reporting a 39% increase in net profit for the six months ended March 31 2015, and Russia’s Chelyabisnk Zinc Plant, announcing a 441% increase in net profit in the first quarter.

And in the week’s people moves, the Singapore Exchange has appointed Loh Boon Chye as its ceo, Mwana Africa announced the immediate departure of ceo Kalaa Mpinga and Lewis Black has joined Woulfe Mining as ceo.

Charlotte Radford

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