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Costly copper, rejected mines, tough emissions targets, and cool aluminium research

Copper prices have soared. The Philippines has rejected plans for a massive new copper and gold mine.  Brass is proving more desirable than anyone imagined in New Zealand. There’s an innovative new way of recycling aluminium on the cards. One Brazilian mining firm is bucking the nation’s climate change denial  trend, creating its own tough CO2 emissions targets. And Jaguar Landrover is pioneering a brand new aluminium up-cycling process. Here’s the news from your favourite metal supplier, fresh from the marvellous world of metals.

 

Copper prices hit the roof

Copper prices have hit a two year high thanks to China’s economic recovery, which shot ahead during August. The London Metal Exchange predicted a 2.3% hike to $6,830 per metric ton in morning trading before the numbers fell back again, from their highest level since June 2018. Other metal prices, including nickel, zinc, and lead, also shot up in price. 

It’s all because China’s August manufacturing activity grew faster than it had grown for almost an entire decade. The US dollar has also been weak, which has helped by making commodities like metals cheaper outside the USA and therefore improving demand. 

Tampakan says no to a new gold and copper mine 

The Philippine municipality of Tampakan has gone back on an agreement to allow Sagittarius Mines to create a massive $5.9 billion copper and gold mine on the beautiful island of Mindanao. Local councillors decided the deal on the table wasn’t well-balanced enough and sold local people and businesses short. 

Locals have been fighting the new mine since the 1990s. The local government, indigenous people, the Catholic church, environmentalists and communist rebels have all joined forces to say no to the development, and one indigenous group who took up weapons against the project has warned officials they are prepared to shed blood to stop mining on their ancestral land.

Brass door furniture thefts in Auckland, NZ

As brass sheet suppliers we’re well aware of the value of the metal, since we need to keep our own premises secure against metal theft. The same goes for Auckland, New Zealand, where they’re experiencing a hike in the theft of brass address plates, mailbox numbers and door handles. At least a dozen people in the ‘burbs of Sandringham, Mt Albert, Balmoral, Royal Oak and Mount Eden have been victims of the thieves, who have also stolen a sixty year old brass door handle from a church in Balmoral. Local police are puzzled, surprised the thieves would be so desperate and saying they, “didn’t think such a small amount would be worthwhile.” 

At the same time the New Zealand Association of Metal Recyclers said that the under-reporting of metal theft is a massive problem in the country, with pipes, hot water cylinders and cables the most frequently stolen metal items.  

A dazzling new way to recycle aluminium 

New research reveals the microscopic changes that happen when molten alloys cool. A team from the  University of Birmingham School of Metallurgy and Materials has harnessed high speed X-ray imaging to record the micro-crystals forming as alloys cool and solidify under a magnetic field. 

The mathematical model they used was developed by Dr Andrew Kao from the University of Greenwich, designed to predict if micro-crystals would form, and if so what shape they’d be. The model said screw-like helical crystals would be the most likely outcome thanks to the influence of strong magnetic stirring. The high-speed X-rays used by the team confirmed the model was right. 

The crystals are beautiful, as well as ridiculously small at ten times smaller than a human hair. But despite their tiny size they’re being tipped as amazingly useful in a multitude of industrial processes. It looks like the crystals drive the physical properties of the alloy. If the experts can figure out how to change the shape, structure and direction of their growth, scientists will be able to perfect processes for all manner of metal and alloy manufacturing and recycling projects. 

Aluminium giants take unilateral action against climate change 

As popular aluminium suppliers we know the aluminium industry is notorious for being one of the metal industry’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters. The sector has long struggled to agree on common environmental standards. But now some businesses are taking unilateral action. 

One of them is in Brazil, a nation whose leader is a well-known climate change denier. One massive Brazilian aluminium producer – the country’s biggest – has just set a stiff emissions target for 2050. In direct contravention of Bolsonaro’s beliefs, Companhia Brasileira de Aluminio has committed itself to a proper, science-based target. 

At the same time, new findings by Jaguar Land Rover show how an exciting new aluminium recycling process could upcycle aluminium waste from fizzy drinks containers, bottle tops and used vehicles into  premium cars. And that would mean a 26% drop in CO2 emissions. They call it the REALITY aluminium project, and it forms a vital part of the brand’s ‘Destination Zero’ mission to slash CO2 emissions. The idea is the recycled metal gets mixed with a smaller amount of primary aluminium to make a brand new, high quality prototype alloy that compares well with existing alloys used by the car maker. 

Metals ahoy!

We’ve survived the Covid-19 crisis, we’re selling essential metals to our customers, and we’re always happy to help in a sensible, socially distanced sort of way. Can we advise you about top quality metal supplies? 

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