CRU: Aluminum news roundup

Written by Marziyeh Horeh

US Midwest premium steady on news of domestic smelter curtailments

The US Midwest premium was flat week over week (w/w) at 18.8–19.4¢/lb. Again, the premium has exhibited remarkably low levels of volatility and has yet to react to news in the geopolitical or macroeconomic spaces.

New announcements on smelter curtailments in the US, further ocean freight disruptions due to fighting in the Red Sea, and potential new tariffs on Russian aluminum in Europe, are all issues that would have previously shifted the premium one way or another overnight. However, this has not been the case at the start of 2024.

The most likely cause remains the absence of demand that would warrant a shift higher to attract more metal to the region. But the premium is slightly below replacement costs for some importers. These two competing forces have held the premium almost completely steady for close to half a year.

Trading in the first half of 2024 and into 2025 will continue, which plays into the growing sentiment for a recovery later in the year. One bright spot for the market: Domestic rollers who have gained market share over imports during the past 12 months.

MetalX announces Defiance, Ohio, as site for new slab-casting facility

Metalx announced that it has chosen Defiance, Ohio, as the site for the company’s new slab-casting facility. The site will be heavily focused on recycling and producing low-carbon slab that will help feed new domestic capacity coming online over the next two to three years. Production will be focused on 5 and 6 series alloys targeting the automotive and the beverage can markets. Total announced capacity is 100,000-120,000/mt annually, with further expansion possible.

“This is an outstanding site and met all key criteria for the project, including proximity to sources of scrap supply; ample power, gas, water and other utilities; main-line rail service; access to major highways; and, most importantly, a solid workforce environment,” MetalX CEO Danny Rifkin said.

“We are excited to expand into Ohio and are looking forward to a continued partnership with the economic development groups who helped us identify and select this site and have provided invaluable guidance through the entire process,” he added.

Novelis enters new agreement with Ardagh Metal Packaging

Novelis announced that it has signed a new contract with the US branch of Ardagh Metal Packaging for the supply aluminum beverage sheet to its facilities in North America. This new contract is the third major one that Novelis has signed in less than seven months for the beverage packaging market in North America.

This latest contract comes as Novelis is in the midst of building a new rolling and recycling plant in Bay Minette, Ala. The plant will be the first fully integrated aluminium plant built in the US in nearly 40 years and will have an initial capacity of 600,000/mt per year of finished goods for the North American beverage packaging and automotive markets.

“Finalizing another meaningful customer agreement in North America is a testament to the strength of the beverage packaging market in the region, which is being driven by consumer desire for more sustainable choices,” Novelis President and CEO Steve Fisher said.

“As a leading global supplier of sustainable and infinitely recyclable aluminum beverage cans, we’re proud of our partnership with Novelis, which shares our focus on sustainability and innovation,” Ardagh Metal Packaging CEO Oliver Graham said.

“Novelis has been part of our story since our founding, and we look forward to the new plant coming online and supporting our continued growth,” he added.

Alcoa to supply Nexans with low-carbon aluminum

Alcoa announced that it would supply global cable producer Nexans with aluminum produced from a revolutionary process that eliminates all direct greenhouse gas emissions from traditional smelting. According to the press release, Nexans will be the world’s first cable manufacturer to use metal from the breakthrough ELYSIS process, which replaces all greenhouse gas emissions with oxygen.

This latest announcement builds on the two companies’ historic long-term relationship. Alcoa already supplies Nexans with EcoLum, a primary aluminum with a carbon footprint that is nearly three times lower than the industry average.

Considering the new arrangement, several Nexans facilities in Western Europe and Scandinavia will use aluminum produced from the ELYSIS process to start qualifications for the metal’s use in various types of cables. It is believed that aluminum rod produced with this breakthrough ELYSIS technology could eliminate a significant portion of carbon dioxide emissions in the future.

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