Dateline

  • Is ‘Made in China’ still an indicator of cheap goods? Nov 01, 2010

    SHANGHAI, China For a long time, goods “Made in China” tended to be cheap. Chinese-made sunglasses, for example, can be bought just about anywhere in the world for less than $10 apiece. But things have been changing since the financial crisis in 2008, and especially since the beginning of this year.

  • Brazilian mills on edge as they fight an uphill battle Oct 01, 2010

    SAO PAULO, Brazil Steel imports are a recent trend for Brazil, but volumes have been growing so relentlessly over the past few years that they are by far the main cause of apprehension among local steelmakers.

  • As huge as it is, steel consumption in China is just beginning to grow Aug 01, 2010

    SINGAPORE Among all the figures in the World Steel Association’s latest yearbook, one in particular stood out 405 kilograms. That’s China’s per-capita steel usage—around 890 pounds—and it’s interesting because it illustrates both the extent of the country’s economic growth and how much further that process has to run.

  • Five months after a devastating earthquake, Chile faces a mandate to rebuild but not enough domestic steel capacity to meet demand Jul 01, 2010

    SANTIAGO, Chile - After suffering a disastrous earthquake in February, Chile is starting to rebuild. The government has begun implementing reconstruction plans estimated to cost $8.4 billion, Sebastián Piñera, Chile’s new president, said in his first presidential speech in May, with most of the money earmarked to rebuild destroyed hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and airports.

  • China’s real estate mega-bubble could be bad news for global steel markets Jul 01, 2010

    BANGKOK, Thailand Put together more than $1 trillion in mismanaged bank credit, a housing market some say is in worse shape than it was in the U.S. before the sub-prime crash, rising inflation and a troubled labor market, and China’s near-term future looks grim. But just as the country’s state-driven economy has managed to absorb and overcome a number of challenges in recent decades, there seems to be a good chance that it will ride out the latest troubles.

  • PDAC 2010 was as upbeat and buoyant as last year’s was just the opposite Apr 01, 2010

    TORONTO: Just one year ago, Teck Resources Ltd. was staring into the abyss.

  • Bolivia is battling internal politics, poor infrastructure and a restless labor force in a drive to diversify its mining base Apr 01, 2010

    SAO PAULO, Brazil: Bolivia has been famous for its rich mineral resources since the time of Spanish colonization, but it has always been mainly dependent on a single metal: first on silver for roughly three centuries, and then on tin for much of the 20th Century.

  • At the height of the resource boom, inadequate coastal infrastructure is leading to lengthy—and costly—shipping delays Apr 01, 2010

    SYDNEY: Australia’s resource sector and state governments had an unexpected opportunity to aggressively develop the country’s infrastructure in the export lull that accompanied the global financial crisis.

  • Proponents of commodity Exchange Traded Funds insist gold is just the beginning Mar 01, 2010

    LONDON: When Graham Tuckwell developed the world’s first gold exchange-traded fund (ETF) in 2003, its prospects seemed grim. Commodities were out of style, gold was trading below $350 an ounce and the concept of gaining direct exposure to metals without trading derivatives or taking physical delivery was, at best, inventive—and, at worst, downright unnerving.

  • ABCs of investing in Australia's resource base: What China can learn from Japan Feb 01, 2010

    SYDNEY, Australia: Wei Zhang, chancellor to China’s seventh-century Emperor Tang Taizong, reputedly told his master to “use history as a mirror.” China’s modern-day minerals mandarins could benefit from this advice as they look to secure supplies through investments in Australia and elsewhere.

  • Chile crosses fingers after labor unrest; agreement between BHP, Escondida Feb 01, 2010

    SAO PAULO, Brazil: Last year was definitely the Chilean copper industry would just as soon forget

  • Politics, anemic market prices cloud the future of Venezuela’s HBI sector Nov 01, 2009

    SAO PAULO, Brazil The nationalization of Venezuela’s hot-briquetted iron (HBI) producers was supposed to take only 60 days, according to a presidential decree issued in mid-July, but by early October nothing had been said about the status of negotiations with the country’s privately owned companies. Even the manufacturers weren’t talking.

  • Tough economic times are softening Canada’s hard line on Chinese investment Nov 01, 2009

    TORONTO There’s nothing quite like staring into an economic abyss to shake up a country’s perception of its place in the world and where it may have to look for a lifeline once in a while.

  • Canada cracks down as foreign-owned firms cut back Aug 01, 2009

    TORONTO Canada has long been perceived as the friendly country to the north with a backbone of rubber. But with its steel and resource industries now mostly in the hands of foreigners who have been slashing jobs and production at a speed once thought unthinkable, the nation is forcibly raising a hand of objection.

  • Take that! Tit-for-tat trade protectionism Nafta-style Jul 01, 2009

    TORONTO President Obama has left little doubt that he stands against the forces of protectionism. Time and again, he has urged nations grappling with ailing economies to refrain from the temptation to erect trade barriers, warning that beggar-thy-neighbor policies would ricochet back to the instigator and sink everyone.

  • ACES is far from a winning hand for steel, execs warn Jul 01, 2009

    WASHINGTON The American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) bill passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, keeping to the stringent time-frame that co-author and committee chairman Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) stressed was necessary—and its progress is a worrisome development for steel.

  • WorldSteel's Ian Christmas on the issues that count most Jul 01, 2009

    His current steel hero is Francis Mer, former chairman of Arcelor SA, with Tom Usher, former top executive at U.S. Steel Corp., coming in a close second. And after more than a decade heading what?s now known as the World Steel Association, Ian Christmas has a large and ever-expanding pool of candidates to choose from.

  • Tons of hot air but still no clear path for cap-and-trade Apr 20, 2009

    It’s clear that the world needs to address climate and energy initiatives, but the best way to accomplish that mission remains in a fog at best.

  • Why Japan’s EF contingent is in no rush to consolidate Apr 20, 2009

    The announcement that Kyoei Steel Ltd. and Tokyo Tekko Co. Ltd. are set to merge in October may not herald the long-awaited consolidation of Japan’s electric-arc furnace (EF) sector despite its pressing need to do so, analysts and market players warn.

  • A tidal wave of turmoil for junior and mid-cap miners Apr 20, 2009

    It’s already been a tumultuous year for junior and mid-cap Canadian miners. Get ready for things to turn even nastier.

  • So far, so good—but don’t tinker with Nafta, Ottawa says Mar 19, 2009

    The late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau once said that Canada’s relationship with the United States is like that of a mouse in bed with an elephant “No matter how friendly and even-tempered the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

  • The President calls and Mr. Bloom goes to Washington Mar 19, 2009

    On the surface, Ron Bloom, former special assistant to United Steelworkers union president Leo Gerard, is about as far from the image of an investment banker as one could possibly imagine.

  • Parting thoughts from a former Commerce official Feb 24, 2009

    China’s sheer capacity to out-produce all other markets is a looming nightmare for many in the domestic steel industry, said David Spooner, former Commerce assistant secretary for import administration.

  • Fumbles, infighting and finally an infrastructure plan Feb 24, 2009

    Canada, much like its more-populous neighbor to the south, is betting big that public infrastructure spending will jolt its flat-lining economy back to life.

  • Shanghai boasts a $2.6B stimulus package all its own Feb 24, 2009

    The Olympic Games might be over, but China’s enthusiasm for grand building projects is alive and kicking.

  • The downturn doesn’t differentiate north of from south of Feb 24, 2009

    The similarities that exist in the Mexican and U.S. markets for steel—and the challenges they are facing—are stark and profound. There is little argument that what affects the U.S. market for steel products has a direct impact on Mexico in almost every aspect, from demand to consumption to production to trade-related matters.

  • A 1,615-ft.-high symbol suddenly in search of meaning Jan 01, 2009

    SHANGHAI, China At first sight, the global economic slowdown seems to have had little impact in Shanghai, China’s brash financial capital. A 10-minute walk through the streets of the city’s financial district is guaranteed to leave shoes coated in dust from the many construction sites, where migrant workers from the country’s interior work on building the latest apartment building or shopping mall, occasionally stopping to stare unashamedly at a passing foreigner. In the five-star hotels near the city’s famous Bund riverfront district, foreign and Chinese businessmen still strike deals and plan for what until recently seemed to be a future of almost-guaranteed expansion.

  • No more ‘same old, same old’ for Canada’s labor unions Jan 01, 2009

    TORONTO The widely held stereotype of Canadians being a polite, respectful and orderly bunch can be quickly shattered by looking at the country’s long history of acrimonious labor disputes in the mining sector.

  • Tokyo Steel returns to the sword and slashes deep Dec 01, 2008

    TOKYO The announcement by Japan’s largest electric furnace operator, Tokyo Steel Manufacturing Co. Ltd., that it would slash its prices by up to 38 percent sent shockwaves through the Japanese steel industry, with other steelmakers, trading houses and customers all struggling to work out the long-term implications of the move.

  • Another big find at McFauld’s Lake, but not big enough Dec 01, 2008

    TORONTO In a remote part of Ontario, little-known junior mining company Noront Resources Ltd. made an ultra-high-grade nickel-copper discovery last year that sparked one of the most frenzied staking rushes in recent Canadian history.

  • Searching for ore beneath all that ice, sea and tundra Nov 01, 2008

    Not content with just the tip of the iceberg, Canada’s ruling Conservative Party has made a Canadian $100-million ($94-million) commitment to map mineral and energy resources in the rich but largely untapped Arctic region and reassert its sovereignty in the process.

  • Election ’08 Who stands where on the issues that count Nov 01, 2008

    The policy differences between presidential nominees Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.) are sharply drawn in many areas, but nowhere are they starker than in the area of international trade.

  • All growth is ‘organic’ when you are as big as Vale Oct 01, 2008

    When Vale launched a billion-dollar offer for Toronto-based nickel miner Inco Ltd. back in 2006, many analysts and industry executives believed it was a very ambitious move by the Brazilian miner to diversify its portfolio. Some also suggested it was an expensive acquisition—one that would be hard from which to turn a profit.

  • A peace plan that promises something for everyone Oct 01, 2008

    A glass half empty or half full? There is reason for optimism that the latter will be true for Ontario miners after the provincial government recently unveiled a plan to permanently protect half of its massive boreal forest, because the ruling Liberal Party also has promised to revamp the antiquated Ontario Mining Act, which dates back to 1873 and has long been criticized by both mining companies and aboriginal groups alike for its lack of modern sensibilities.

  • Is China set to soar or, like ‘Japan Inc.,’ grossly oversold? Oct 01, 2008

    In case you missed it, here’s a quick snapshot of what we might expect from China in the coming years Over the next decade, the world’s most populous nation will use as much steel as was consumed by the United States in the whole of the 20th Century. Or perhaps it’s better to think of the future like this As China industrializes, over the next 20 years it will build as many as 50,000 skyscrapers, which is roughly the equivalent of 10 New Yorks.

  • A shared dilemma for Beijing and Beltway policymakers Aug 21, 2008

    The Chinese economy is overheating. Beijing is trying to slow growth to sustainable levels and ensure a “soft landing” that will underpin its long-term development plans. But the government’s twin fixations on maintaining social stability and hosting a successful Olympics delayed any potential crackdown until after the Games end and the world’s attention is elsewhere.

  • Can Brazil live up to its steel powerhouse billing? Aug 21, 2008

    Tough competition, environmental pressures and rising costs are posing some hard questions for steel producers about where to site new greenfield projects. Mills looking for a favorable economic and political environment and, crucially, access to raw materials are increasingly turning their attention to Brazil.

  • Smaller players are digging deeper—but not for nickel Aug 21, 2008

    If it seems like the trillion-dollar Sudbury mining region of Ontario has a fresh glow to it, there’s an easy explanation the increasing number of new projects focused on high concentrations of copper and precious metals located deep beneath the surface.

  • The stars are aligned and point to a resolution at Kitimat Jul 30, 2008

    Kitimat is a sparsely populated town on the rugged coast of northern British Columbia that’s about 1,000 miles from nowhere, yet the name is familiar to anyone who has ever followed the Canadian metals industry or has courageously tried to chart supply trends for the aluminum market.

  • Making and shaping a steel market the Chinese way Jul 30, 2008

    SINGAPORE The usual chorus of indignation from China’s steel industry followed the U.S. government’s imposition of stringent anti-dumping and countervailing measures against welded steel pipe from China.

  • China’s lust for iron ore hits the rocks in the outback Jul 01, 2008

    Sinosteel’s contested—and so far unsuccessful—bid for Australian iron ore junior Midwest Corp. has unmasked concerns in Canberra as well as Beijing.

  • For investors, 13 different security regulators is 12 too many Jun 01, 2008

    It may be only a baby step, but Canada finally appears to be inching closer to addressing one of the mining industry’s chief beefs about doing business in the country its fragmented approach to securities regulation.

  • A dereliction of duty over $600M in unpaid duties? Jun 01, 2008

    WASHINGTON Where have all the duties gone? And what to do about it?

  • On a clear day, you can see the men’s decathlon Jun 01, 2008

    The Olympic torch is struggling its way toward Beijing, dogged everywhere by protestors unhappy at China’s militant response to civil unrest in Tibet.

  • CANADA Bold, gutsy . . . but not exactly a brilliant move for metals Apr 01, 2008

    British Columbia has offered a bold—and politically gutsy—solution to help combat global warming by becoming the first jurisdiction in North America to introduce a carbon tax on both business and consumers.

  • UNITED STATES The dawn of a new day for critics of Chinese trade? Apr 01, 2008

    Since joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December 2001, China has been one of its greatest beneficiaries, enjoying lower tariffs and market access to virtually every other country in the world. But the honeymoon might be coming to an end.

  • ASIA Soaring ore prices may be the silver bullet Beijing needs Apr 01, 2008

    Something strange happened when news broke in Asia of a benchmark iron ore price increase of 65 percent. Shares in regional steelmakers went up as investors, apparently cheering the biggest rise in iron ore costs since 2005, rushed to buy.

  • UNITED STATES Don’t mess with history—or hardrock mining profits Mar 01, 2008

    Mining is a dirty business. Mines can threaten habitats, leak toxic chemicals, pollute drinking water or scar a landscape.

  • ASIA It’s a brave new world for Nippon Steel’s incoming chief Mar 01, 2008

    Not a great deal is known about the man who will soon lead the world’s second-largest steelmaker.

  • ASIA A gift from China and the big game after the Games Feb 01, 2008

    China does not celebrate Christmas on anything like the scale of the West, but it gave the world a festive gift nonetheless in December another serious attempt to reduce the amount of metal leaving its shores. Whether that’s the kind of gift that everyone would enjoy finding under the Christmas tree is something that should become clearer as the year wears on.

  • UNITED STATES Why the WTO draft rules add up to a dead end for Doha Feb 01, 2008

    It was supposed to be a starting point. Now it looks like a dead end.

  • LATIN AMERICA Discord is stacking the odds against competitive growth Feb 01, 2008

    The Latin American steel industry’s “red alert” on imports of Chinese steel, which grew 35.6 percent to 1.6 million tonnes in the first 10 months of 2007, begs several questions. The most pressing is why the region’s steel industry, blessed with abundant local raw materials, is unable to compete effectively in its own backyard?

  • LATIN AMERICA Uranium has taken on a whole new glow in Lula-land Jan 01, 2008

    Uranium, and who will mine it, is a hot topic in Brazil. With the fight against carbon emissions gaining strength, Brazil is one of several nations where nuclear energy is emerging as an environmentally acceptable alternative to both coal-based and hydroelectric power stations.

  • UNITED STATES Off to a running start, steel lobbyists are upbeat on ‘08 Jan 01, 2008

    It would be easy to write off 2007 as an unproductive year for the steel industry’s legislative agenda, given that it never got its trade law bill introduced while an emissions cap-and-trade bill it hates is gaining steam.

  • ASIA Fear and trembling over BHP’s consolidation play Jan 01, 2008

    Just what did Marius Kloppers, BHP Billiton’s chief executive officer, tell customers during his tour of Asia in November? On his return to Australia, he said that he had discussed their “concerns” about uniting BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto and would continue to do so.

  • EUROPE A red, white and blue candle flickering in the wind Nov 01, 2007

    The U.S. Federal Reserve reversed course in September and eased monetary policy, cutting the federal funds rate to 4.75 percent from 5.25 percent. Historically, the funds rate and metal prices have been positively correlated, largely because rising interest rates went hand-in-hand with a strong economic performance (and hence metals demand), while an easing in monetary policy usually took place in the environment of a decelerating U.S. economy.

  • LATIN AMERICA Cracking the whip on Brazil’s renegade pig iron brigade Nov 01, 2007

    The threat by Cia. Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD) to axe iron ore supplies to Brazilian pig iron producers not fully conforming with local labor and environmental laws should bring a positive shakeout to a sector dogged by allegations of slave labor and illegal harvesting of virgin forest.

  • UNITED STATES A win-one/lose-one forecast on the China steel threat Nov 01, 2007

    Once again, Chinese steel imports were the most hotly debated issue at AMM’s third annual China Summit. For some, the debate felt like déjà vu.

  • ASIA Recalibrating China’s high-octane engine for growth Nov 01, 2007

    China’s growth continues to outpace predictions. The country’s economy grew a stunning 11.9 percent in the second quarter, according to official figures, although many analysts think the true growth rate could have been even higher. Investment, currency reserves and now inflation also are outstripping earlier estimates, with huge repercussions for the global economy.

  • LATIN AMERICA An army of 80,000 aimed point-blank at Chile’s heart Oct 01, 2007

    A recent strike by contract workers at state-owned Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile (Codelco) has thrust the country’s labor laws into the spotlight as discontent with the use of subcontract labor bubbled over into outright conflict.

  • UNITED STATES Eye-to-eye with a runaway engine racing down the tracks Oct 01, 2007

    A showdown between the steel and railroad industries is under way.

  • ASIA The ‘Rim of Fire’countries are burning with promise, but . . . Oct 01, 2007

    In the shadow of China, Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines sometimes get overlooked in assessments of the global metal markets. But with raw material supplies likely to tighten in the coming years, the two nations are likely to play an increasingly significant role.

  • LATIN AMERICA A faultline spreading south and full of grim prospects Sep 01, 2007

    With electrical energy rationing in Argentina having stretched to three months—bringing down steel production and overall economic growth—the alarm bells are ringing throughout Latin America.

  • UNITED STATES American mills roll out a bevy of big guns and blast away Sep 01, 2007

    This summer, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) took some heat during a two-day hearing on whether to maintain import duties on, appropriately, hot-rolled steel. Thanks to a large turnout by lawmakers, it was the most action the ITC had seen since its marathon hearing last fall on whether to continue duties on corrosion-resistant steel, which resulted in one of the longest single-day hearings in ITC history.

  • ASIA Rule No. 1 Beijing is not Mumbai, Mumbai is not Beijing Sep 01, 2007

    The problem with India, a top executive at a Western metal company told reporters recently, is that it has too much democracy. The one Indian national at the table responded with a rueful nod—and he wasn’t just being polite.

  • UNITED STATES. A calculated shift on China’s non-market economy status? Aug 01, 2007

    WASHINGTON Domestic manufacturers have enjoyed a series of victories in Washington of late when it comes to changes in trade policy toward China.

  • LATIN AMERICA Boom times are morphing Brazil into its own end market Aug 01, 2007

    RIO DE JANEIRO It may sound bananas to those unfamiliar with Latin America, but Brazil, following in the footsteps of a few of its leading corporations, such as Cia. Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD), Usinas Siderúrgicas de Minas Gerais SA (Usiminas), Votorantim Metais and Grupo Gerdau SA, is close to gaining investment-grade classification from international credit-risk agencies.

  • ASIA Rising wages are weighing on China’s ‘miracle’ economy Aug 01, 2007

    The impact of Chinese inflation could prove to be bad news for consumers in Baltimore as well as Beijing

  • U.S. Pros and cons on the Chinese yuan Jul 01, 2007

    Few trade policy issues get the pulse pounding faster than the value of China’s currency, over which the Chinese government keeps tight control. The exchange rate is currently around 7.7 yuan per U.S. dollar—an increase in the value of the yuan since the Chinese allowed their currency to “float” in July 2005 but not nearly enough for critics of China’s trade policy, including many lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

  • EUROPE Sun, surf and a seasonal retreat for copper and nickel prices? Jul 01, 2007

    LONDON The traditional summer slowdown in the base metals market has been absent in recent years, largely because demand remained robust and supply fell short of requirements due to industrial unrest and other factors. This year is likely to be different, however, with lower prices expected for both copper and nickel.

  • LATIN AMERICA Viva nacionalización! Viva expropiación! Jul 01, 2007

    VENEZUELA Venezuela’s announcement that members of the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America (Alba)—Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela—will set up a joint geological and mining development council reinforces the “alternative” or “independent” regional integration process now occurring in Latin America.

  • ASIA The silk curtain is slowly closing on foreign investment Jul 01, 2007

    CHINA Of all the steel producers to have emerged from China on the back of the country’s incredible economic boom, Baotou Iron & Steel (Group) Co. Ltd. is likely to be one of the least familiar.

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