Wednesday, June 28, 2006
LEADING mining company directors have expressed concern about the level of speculative investment that has fuelled the copper price’s bull run, as new industry research raised doubts about China’s appetite for the red metal.
The FTSE 100 directors, who asked not to be named, said that they questioned the sustainability of the high copper price — which remains about 80 per cent up on last year’s level despite having shed almost $2,000 (£1,100) a tonne over the past month.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Canadian mining companies Inco Ltd. and Falconbridge Ltd. have reached a three-way deal to merge with Phelps Dodge Corp. of Arizona in what would be the biggest takeover in Canadian corporate history.
The companies said Monday the union would create the world's largest nickel producer and largest publicly traded copper producer.
The new company will be named Phelps Dodge Inco Corp. Its corporate office and copper division will be headquartered in Phoenix, while Inco Nickel, the new company's nickel division, will be based in Toronto.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
I've talked about this here before. I can't work out (and no other commentators seem able to either) if this is going to be good for steel consumers or bad. There seem to be arguments pro and con, and no one has a good handle on which is more likely to dominate.
European steel maker Arcelor accepted an improved takeover bid from Mittal Steel to create a steel giant three times larger than any rival, sources familiar with the matter said on Sunday.
[...] create a global giant with an annual output of over 100 million metric tons.
After a five-month takeover battle involving an Indian-born billionaire, a Russian oligarch and governments across western Europe, the sources told Reuters that Arcelor's board voted unanimously for Mittal's revised offer.
There was no immediate confirmation from either company.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Mittal Steel Chief Executive Lakshmi Mittal said on Thursday talks with rival Arcelor (CELR.PA) on a possible takeover were going well and included discussions about the value of the deal.
"We've already had a meeting and we will have another ... so far discussions are satisfactory," he told Belgian lawmakers at a reception at the country's upper house.
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The National Labor Relations Board's Cincinnati regional office is attempting to work out an agreement among AK Steel and three unions over a planned representation vote for 2,700 locked-out workers at the company's Middletown Works.
Earl Ledford, NLRB regional attorney, said a conference call would be held today among the company and representatives of Armco Employees Independent Federation, the International Association of Machinists and United Steelworkers.
The leadership of the AK Steel independent union, in a contract stalemate with AK since Feb. 28, has endorsed the Machinists' organizing effort. The Steelworkers, which have long sought to represent the Middletown workers, is contesting it. If the conference call doesn't resolve the dispute, Ledford said the NLRB would proceed to a formal representation hearing tentatively set for June 22.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
PHILADELPHIA - A fledging steel auction Web site in suburban Philadelphia has sold a stake to an old-line steel service center, which officials said could whittle away at the industry's resistance to conducting business over the Internet.
SteelSalvor in Narberth said Monday that Dennen Steel Corp. has taken a 'significant' investment in the company. Dennen, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., buys, sells and processes steel. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
'The real value is in the 60 years of relationships they've built with domestic steel mills,' said Scott Shapiro, SteelSalvor's chief executive. 'They will give us an entree into key people.'
Dennen is an 'established industry player that will bring some trusted credibility,' said Bob Parker, an analyst at IDC Manufacturing Insights, a research firm in Framingham, Mass. 'Dennen helps them bring bidders to the table as well as folks that have some excess inventory to move.'
Although several business-to-business Web sites for the steel industry have gone under, SteelSalvor has thrived.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named Sen. Robert Byrd Porker of the Month for his legacy as the 'King of Pork.' Mr. Byrd today becomes the longest-serving Senator in U.S. history.
Sen. Byrd has sat on the Appropriations Committee since 1959, his first year in the Senate. He is former chairman and currently Ranking Member. CAGW began tracking federal pork with its Pig Book in 1991. Since 1991, West Virginia has received $2.95 billion in pork. Projects added in the Senate (those most likely attributed to Sen. Byrd) total $1.2 billion. The state has ranked in the top 4 in pork per capita every year since 2001.
CAGW first dubbed him the 'King of Pork' in 1999
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Rising nickel costs ensure that stainless steel transaction prices will increase over the next three months in all parts of the world. Expanding figures for ferrochrome and molybdenum over the same period are also a real prospect. We are bullish about stainless steel prices in the period to September, at least. We forecast a further 19 percent increase in our benchmark 304 cold rolled coil price over the next four months. Over that period, supply is likely to remain quite firm - at least in Western nations.
We have reservations about the prospect of this market continuing at the current level in the medium term. Production is starting to rise to meet current orders - a large proportion of which are speculation against rising raw material costs. As the third quarter develops, we expect to see a reduction in the volume of mill orders. This is likely to be followed by lower demand for nickel, chrome and molybdenum and a correction in their selling prices is anticipated in the final trimester or, perhaps, earlier.
US buyers have accepted further transaction price increases. The driving force is a lack of supply. All domestic mills are operating an allocation policy for customers, with no extra tonnage to be had. Several are working below normal rates due to a variety of production/labour issues. Availability is even tighter because very few imports are being offered.
Canadian market conditions are very strong. Transaction values have moved up and the trend is likely to continue. Supply is constrained, with Stelco telling some buyers they will have no material until August. This is partly due to trying to build up stocks to protect major contract customers ahead of an anticipated strike on July 31. Inventories are low at most service centres and distributors' profit margins have improved. Importers have stepped up their offers for August/September arrivals by $C100 per tonne.
Remember, MEPS is a supply side reporter, so when they say market conditions are strong, that means good for the steel supplier.
Monday, June 05, 2006
BHP Billiton, the biggest mining company, spends 61 cents to produce a pound of copper and sells it for $3.15.
The market's largest-ever profit margin is evidence that copper is headed for a record plunge, perhaps as much as 25 percent in a day, said an analyst, John Tumazos of Prudential Equity Group LLP. Copper doubled in the past year on betting by speculators, he said.
After a fivefold increase since 2001 to a record level in May, copper fell 11 percent in one week, the most ever, a sign that the rally might be over. The volatility of copper - the rate at which the price moves up or down - during the past 10 weeks was at the highest level in history, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Prices fluctuated by 48.5 percent in the week ended May 26
Saturday, June 03, 2006
The independent union that represents hourly workers locked out of AK Steel's Middletown Works for three months endorsed affiliating with a major international union Friday.
Uniting with the International Association of Machinists could not only increase the strength of the Middletown Works union that has been independent for some seven decades, but would help resolve a key issue -- pensions -- in the standoff.