Aluminium and zinc prices rise while steel and copper fall

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
28 April 2015

Steel prices in the EU have dropped 6 per cent year-on-year to hit €480 per tonne on 1 April 2015 due to record exports from China.

According to Mintec global steel production fell marginally in January to 133.1 million tonnes, down 3 per cent year-on-year, but exports from China in February helped drive down prices.

However, European prices started to rise after the EU imposed import taxes on cold-rolled flat stainless steel from China and Taiwan, effective from 26 March.

Copper prices have dropped 9 per cent over the same period to hit $6,020 per tonne, though since January prices have been rising due to “signs of increased demand” from China, which accounts for 40 per cent of global consumption. Global mine production increased 1.3 per cent to 18.3 million tonnes in 2014, while refined copper production reached 22.6 million tonnes. Global usage rose 8 per cent to 23 million tonnes. A small deficit of 13,000 tonnes is predicted in 2015.

Zinc prices have risen 5 per cent year-on-year to $2,069 on 1 April against the backdrop of a supply deficit, which is expected to double to 584,000 tonnes in 2015. Prices have dropped since the beginning of the year due to increased Chinese production, but the closure of a mine in Australia later this year, which accounts for 4 per cent of global production, “has continued to cause concerns of low global supplies”.

Aluminium prices have increased by 5 per cent over the same period to hit $1,832 per tonne. However, prices have been falling since the start of the year due to lower oil prices, and aluminium has the highest energy related costs compared with other metals. Production was up 5 per cent year-on-year to 4.6 million tonnes in January and as a result the supply deficit in 2015 is forecast to fall 22 per cent to 211,000 tonnes.

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