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August 18, 2021 – While planned maintenance work on several US steel mills is pending in the United States and more than 800,000 st of crude steel production is estimated to be lost in 2021, energy problems and emissions controls in China are causing further shortages of aluminum. In addition, the port of Ningbo in China will have to be partially closed for a week.

Stainless Espresso: Chinese aluminum becomes even scarcer
Stainless Espresso: Chinese aluminum becomes even scarcer

U.S.: Steel mills with planned maintenance work 

Steelmaker US Steel will shut down a blast furnace with an annual capacity of 1.36 million tons at its Gary Works plant in Indiana for 38 days this fall. The shutdown of blast furnace No. 6 will begin Sept. 30. 

Cleveland-Cliffs and Nucor also scheduled for maintenance in 2021 

Steelmaker Cleveland-Cliffs will perform maintenance on its No. 7 blast furnace at Indiana Harbor (4.63 million tpy) for 45-60 days, and electric arc furnace steelmaker Nucor will close its Gallatin (Kentucky) flat rolling mill (1.6 million tpy) for about a month starting in late November. 

More than 800,000 st of crude steel production affected 

This is expected to tighten available steel tonnages in the United States by more than 800,000 st this year.

Read also: US infrastructure bill increases domestic steel shortfall by probably another 17 million tons

New capacity of 7 million tons not expected before 2022 

In addition, market participants expect that planned new capacity of 7 million tons for 2021 in the United States and Mexico will no longer come online. And these can also only be expected late in 2022, if at all. Market sources believe that US steelmakers will continue to keep supply below demand for quite some time. 

Aluminum supply remains tight, prices rise 

Aluminum prices rose on Tuesday on renewed supply concerns over energy problems in China, the main producer, and shortages in the United States due to supply delays. 

Aluminum prices at SHFE at 15-year highs 

Prices in Shanghai hit a 15-year high, while the benchmark contract in London was close to its highest level in more than three years. 

China’s aluminum production continues to decline 

China will restrict development of projects that consume large amounts of energy and have high carbon emissions, the state planner said Tuesday, a day after data showed China’s aluminum output fell for a third time in July. 

Source: ndrc.gov.cn, lme.com, shfe.com.cn

Energy problems and emissions controls 

An unfavorable combination of factors will continue to keep aluminum prices high, and it doesn’t currently look like those problems will be fixed anytime soon. Emission controls and energy shortages in China are keeping availability low, and the United States is struggling with logistics issues. 

Logistics: Chinese port of Ningbo closes in parts for a week  

Logistics and transportation continue to be a defining issue in global trade. Since the beginning of the Corona pandemic, local outbreaks have repeatedly occurred, triggering reactions from the respective governments. As is now the case again in China. The important port of Ningbo must close for a week due to Corona outbreaks in parts.  

This also highlights once again how important it is to plan and work with the right partners.

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