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Metalex news – Ups, downs and surprises in the world's metal markets

Happy New Year! We hope 2021 will treat you well. Here’s some news from our world to yours.

Happy New Year! We hope 2021 will treat you well. Here’s some news from our world to yours.

China hits a daily record for aluminium production

In November 2020 China’s primary aluminium production broke daily records thanks to extra smelting capacity coming on board, designed to take advantage of strong demand and high aluminium prices. The month saw a massive output of 3.18 million tonnes of the metal, an increase of 8.7% on the previous year.

The price of aluminium shot up 15% in November 2020, then hit a nine-year high on 2nd  December as the world’s inventories quickly ran dry. Strong margins are still inspiring China to produce large amounts of aluminium as we go into 2021.

Complete end-to-end aluminium dross recycling in the USA

The US company Harsco Corporation’s subsidiary Altek is providing complete end-to-end dross recycling, which means the world’s aluminium sector can maximise recoveries. It’s all thanks to Altek’s commercially viable, fully scalable in-house salt slag recycling solution, which lets producers recycle metallics and salts and recover other useful non-metallic substances as well. The solution neatly addresses one of the biggest environmental concerns around the aluminium market, drastically cutting atmospheric pollution and edging ever closer to a sustainable no-waste situation.

Stainless steel price predictions for 2021

The cost of stainless steel is set to remain high in 2021. The most popular nickel-containing grades of stainless steel are seeing a sharp upward trend because of rising nickel prices, with grade 304 flat products costing around $100 per tonne, a hike of 4-5%. Since May stainless steel prices have gone up by around 17%.

Further increases are predicted for the new year, but they’re not likely to be as dramatic as the price hikes we’ve seen for carbon steel. The world’s supplies of stainless steel have rebounded faster than carbon steel after Covid lockdowns across the Eu and USA, particularly in spring 2020, and demand for stainless steel has rebounded less than the demand for carbon steel.

India’s biggest steel company 

Indian steel giants JSHL and Jindal Stainless are due to merge to create the nation’s biggest stainless steel company. The resulting mega stainless steel supplier will take a place in the world’s top ten steel companies.

Malaysia and Vietnam squabble over anti-dumping

Malaysia has applied anti-dumping duties on Vietnamese cold-rolled stainless steel after ‘preliminary enquiries’, imposed for three months from 26th December 2020. The duties apply to steel coils, sheets and all other types of cold-rolled stainless steel. The investigation kicked off in summer 2020 based on a petition by Bahru Stainless Sdn. Bhd., claiming that Vietnamese steel was being imported into Malaysia at a lower price than the selling price in Vietnam. The investigation is due to finish in late April 2021.

Malaysia has also added duties to steel products from Indonesia and has imposed anti-dumping duties on some Chinese, South Korean and Vietnamese flat-rolled steel products.

Don’t try this at home

Aluminium is brilliant at resisting corrosion by quickly forming a tough oxide layer when it’s exposed to air. That’s one of the reasons we see people on YouTube pouring molten aluminium into the water without causing grief, gloom, despondency or injury.

Some people say this proves explosions from aluminium and water are a myth. But they’re very wrong. Why, otherwise, would aluminium casting factories ban disposable water containers and soft drinks cans just in case one finds its way into the furnace?

When you get it right the metal forms its famous oxide layer as it travels through the air from the ladle to the water, and there’s no explosive reaction. When you get it wrong, though, the results can be catastrophic.

Pouring molten aluminium anywhere near water is actually very dangerous indeed. Water coming into contact with molten metal at over 660 °C violently vaporises into steam in an instant, and the steam expands to throw molten metal through the air. This breaks the molten aluminium up in a process called fragmentation, which mixes up the molten metal, water and steam even more and causes even faster heat transfer.

Boom! Whatever you see people doing with molten metal and water on YouTube, don’t try it at home.

Metal flower tribute to Swedish virus victims

The Swedish artist Geert van der Vossen has created a floral tribute to his country’s coronavirus patients. You can watch a video of the 6,561 metal flowers he planted here:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-europe-55488846

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