US steel imports lowest since Feb 2021

  • Market: Metals
  • 26/10/22

US steel imports fell to their lowest levels since February 2021, driven down by lower semi-finished and hot-rolled coil (HRC) import volumes.

Total imports of steel products for consumption were at 2.03mn metric tonnes (t) in September, down by 25pc compared to the prior year, according to preliminary data from the US Department of Commerce.

Import volumes of blooms, billets and slabs dropped by 51pc to 344,000t, while HRC imports fell by 40pc to 151,000t.

Hot dipped galvanized (HDG) coil imports declined by 22pc to 166,000t.

Imports from Canada and Mexico fell by 13pc and 23pc, respectively. Volumes from Brazil, a major slab producer, dropped by 56pc to 171,000t, while German imports fell by more than half to 70,000t.


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24/06/24

Q&A: New DLE method seeks to access US lithium reserves

Q&A: New DLE method seeks to access US lithium reserves

London, 24 June (Argus) — Direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology has been around for a few years now, but several methods exist and are mine-specific. US-based Iliad technologies is attempting to find a universal method by which to extract lithium and export this technology to an increasingly diversified global lithium market. Argus spoke with Iliad chief executive Samuel Moore. Edited highlights follow: How does Iliad's DLE technology work? It is born out of Energy Source Minerals, which is a company that is developing a project in California on the Salton Sea. The genius of Iliad was really the need for technology that worked at high temperatures and could deal with the fluids coming up from the Salton Sea, and we decided there was not really anything on the market that was right for our project. It is based on absorption desorption, which is one of the longer-standing methods of DLE that I know of. It has been used for 30-plus years and in Argentina. What happens is that the lithium-bearing brine enters the system. The kinetics of the brine push the lithium into an absorbent material that is designed to capture the lithium and ignore everything else. It is almost the reverse of a filter. Everything else washes through the system and is injected back into the ground. Then we wash the lithium out of that absorbent material using just water. So we do not use any reagents, we do not use any acid, and we do not use any other harmful materials. It is a very clean system. We run a continuous process and smaller columns with a very clever valve that basically pumps the fluid through 30 different columns of absorbent. We work the absorbent continuously to take a stream of lithium chloride out of the back end. It means we use a lot less absorbent and a lot less water. Does Iliad technology work in different forms of brine, different from the geothermal brines in the Salton Sea? One of the myths of DLE is that you need a different solution for different clients. We do not think this is true. We have tested on more than 30 different lines. We have tested geothermal obviously, but we have tested salars [large brine fields] and in Smackover [lithium mining area in the US]. We have tested waters that come up with oil and gas. In different countries, we have a lot of data now and Iliad works universally with all of them. I don't think it is true to say that each different project requires a different technology. Our flavour of absorption desorption is very effective. We have tested brines with lithium of as low as 40 parts per million (ppm) and as high as up into the thousands. It works at both of these readings and at everything in between. We are really confident and comfortable that there are technologies out there that have universal application, and we are going to be one of those. Who could make use of this technology, and in what areas of the lithium sector? Our modern take on DLE unlocks resources that couldn't really be developed before. The traditional way to develop brine field lithium was with evaporation ponds in South America, but you get very large losses. You only get 40-50pc recovery when you do that, it takes a long time and the product quality is not there. So DLE allows a step change in performance than what is currently in the the industry and targets resources that are not really able to be targeted today. If you come back to the US, say the Smackover formation, you may get to process 204ppm of lithium. South America has 600ppm-plus of lithium, so DLE gets you lower. Then you get into the conversation around the geopolitics. Do I want to establish a lithium supply chain in the US, Europe and Canada — places that traditionally have not had one? I think DLE is going to be key to unlocking the domestic supply chain that the US government has clearly signalled is very important to it. We raised independent capital from Livent, now Arcadium Lithium. It was our cornerstone investor throughout that process. So it has taken a shareholding early, which is really interesting because it is the one industry participant that has done DLE for 30 years in Argentina already. How do lithium producers use DLE to reduce their impact on the environment? This will be the cleanest lithium you can produce — no question. Take our first project, for example. We are attached to the side of a geothermal power station. We capture the brine, so it comes to us hot. We capture the lithium using our method. Once the lithium has been removed, it goes back down the hole, in the same way that it does today. We use steam from the power station, and we use heat from the brine to do a lot of the processing. We use water to capture the lithium out of the absorbent material. We have no reagents and no harsh chemicals. [It is a] very low energy requirement. Compare this to hard rock mining, where you have a very large carbon footprint, a massive land footprint and then a huge amount of chemical use and the processing of that ore. You do not have evaporation ponds — once again, these leave a very large land footprint and incur very large water losses because you are evaporating the brine to the atmosphere to capture the salts left behind. So I mean, DLE — particularly really efficient DLE, like Iliad absorption desorption — will be the cleanest lithium you can get. By Thomas Kavanagh Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Pilbara Minerals eyes more Pilgangoora lithium output


21/06/24
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21/06/24

Pilbara Minerals eyes more Pilgangoora lithium output

Singapore, 21 June (Argus) — Australian mining firm Pilbara Minerals has started a feasibility study into raising spodumene production capacity at its Pilgangoora operations in Western Australia. The P2000 expansion project will more than double Pilgangoora's output capacity to over 2mn t/yr, the firm said today. Pilbara forecasts Pilgangoora's output to average around 1.9mn t/yr of 5.2pc grade spodumene in the first 10 years after the P2000 expansion is completed, with production starting from 2028, if it does go ahead. Pilbara estimates A$1.2bn ($798mn) of capital expenditure for the project, which includes building a new ore flotation plant but excludes the extra capital expenditure needed for the mine to support the expansion. The firm approached Australian federal government financing agencies for the project's funding, which it said provided non-binding letters of support for "up to A$400mn" after the initial engagement. "The timing of the P2000 Project will be subject to the successful outcome of the next level of feasibility study, project approvals and the market outlook at the time of the financial investment decision," said the firm. The feasibility study is expected to be completed in October-December 2025, but the firm remained cautious about assuring a final investment decision (FID). Any FID decision needs to come after the study outcome, said managing director and chief executive Dale Henderson. "That's more than a year away, which is frankly an eternity in the lithium industry." The P2000 project will come after the firm's P680 and P1000 projects, which Pilbara Minerals has decided to plough ahead with . The P680 and P1000 projects would raise Pilgangoora's output capacity to 1mn t/yr. The firm earlier this year defended its lithium downstream strategy and is exploring building a downstream conversion plant with Chinese refiner Ganfeng. By Joseph Ho Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Liberty’s Dalzell plate mill suspends offers


20/06/24
News
20/06/24

Liberty’s Dalzell plate mill suspends offers

London, 20 June (Argus) — UK-based Liberty Steel has suspended offers for plate from its Dalzell mill in Scotland, market participants said today. The mill has been grappling with low margins, while the wider Liberty group has also been struggling, mothballing some mills and looking to sell others. "[Dalzell] is unable to purchase slabs at a competitive enough rate to allow them to continue operations," one source said. A source close to the company said the mill continues to produce and fulfil its order commitments. But several participants said it had suspended offers, suggesting it may not be taking new orders for fresh rollings. A Liberty Steel spokesperson declined to comment. Sluggish demand and high input costs have been weighing on plate re-rollers' profit margins across the European mainland as some Italian and northern European mills are reportedly producing around break-even levels . Competitive imports from Asia have also played a role in driving European offers down. Into the UK, Korean S275 plate was heard at £620-630/t ($785-798/t) cfr this week. "[These are] frightening prices. Not surprised that Liberty cannot compete at these levels," one participant commented. Liberty recently said it would enter creditor protection in the Czech Republic , and announced it would close the coke ovens at its Hungarian operation. It said in May it would look to sell or recapitalise its EU rolling lines . By Carlo Da Cas Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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EU proposed lithium toxic classification concerns ILiA


20/06/24
News
20/06/24

EU proposed lithium toxic classification concerns ILiA

London, 20 June (Argus) — The International Lithium Association (ILiA) has said it is "gravely concerned" about proposals made by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) regarding the potential classification of lithium products as toxic. ILiA has lobbied against the proposals privately for two years, but has now made its concerns public to ensure awareness of a potential problem for the development of a European lithium industry. ECHA's proposals would classify lithium carbonate, hydroxide and chloride as Toxic for Reproduction, Category 1a. Any resulting impact on the market could take up to two years to appear, leading to uncertainty for the nascent battery industry, ILiA told Argus . "In Europe, an incorrect classification which is too high would risk making EU member states less attractive compared to other countries for lithium mining and refining projects," an ILiA representative wrote in an article for the organisation's membership newsletter. "Opening a lithium mine, a lithium refinery or a battery production plant in the EU would be more burdensome, with additional safety measures and uncertainties on permitting." EU regulation is sometimes seen as the benchmark standard for the rest of the world, which means classification could impact other countries. But some countries disagree with the ECHA proposals, highlighted by a series of assessments and letters from Chile, Argentina, Australia, Canada and the UK, which ILiA provided to ECHA. "These opinions demonstrate that there is no global scientific agreement on the classification and that other countries might reach different conclusions… with possible repercussions on trade relations and access to lithium in Europe," an ILiA representative said. ILiA highlighted that some lithium projects in Europe have already been shelved for other reasons, with the US Inflation Reduction Act attracting investment away from the region and public protests halting lithium mines, as happened to UK-Australian firm Rio Tinto's Jadar project in Serbia. Having the capacity to refine lithium is "crucial" for recycling lithium and providing the materials needed to grow the European battery industry, ILiA said. By Thomas Kavanagh Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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India approves funding for offshore wind projects


20/06/24
News
20/06/24

India approves funding for offshore wind projects

Mumbai, 20 June (Argus) — India's federal government cabinet has approved viability gap funding (VGF) for the installation and commissioning of 1GW of offshore wind projects in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu states. India's plans for offshore wind energy will increase short-term demand for rare earth permanent magnets and minor metals such as chromium, cobalt, manganese and molybdenum. The cabinet on 19 June approved VGF of 68.53bn rupees ($820mn) for installation and commissioning of 500MW of offshore wind projects each off the coast of northwest India's Gujarat and southeast India's Tamil Nadu. It also approved a Rs6bn grant for upgrading two ports to meet the logistics requirements for developing the projects. The VGF scheme aims to support infrastructure projects that are economically justified but fall marginally short of financial viability. The funding support from the government reduces the cost of power from offshore wind projects and make them viable for purchase by electricity distribution companies. India's Ministry of New and Renewable Energy expects the commissioning of the 1GW wind projects to promote development of the offshore industry. It is targeting an initial 37GW of offshore wind power generation capacity with investment of about Rs4.5 trillion. Initial assessments by India's National Institute of Wind Energy for potential offshore zones for wind energy projects indicate the potential of 36GW of wind energy projects off Gujarat and about 35GW offshore Tamil Nadu. By Samil Surendran Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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