We have come to the end of 2014 and like every year here is again a chance to look back and refresh our memory of the trending news of the year. From the industry point of view, the aluminium industry has experienced some interesting twists and turns and also faced a number of controversies. The year 2014 has witnessed a healthy consumption growth and a continuous capacity cut by the aluminium majors which has changed the market dynamics. LME inventories have dropped below 4.5 million tonnes, and the market has slowly shifted from surplus to deficit. Here is a quick look back at some of the top trending news from January 2014 to December 2014.
- Aluminium hits highest in nearly two months
- U.S. Can recycling rate hits 67 percent
- Smelter cuts, finance deals send aluminium premiums toward record high
- Ministry of Environment rejects Vedanta’s Bauxite mining project at Niyamgiri
- Aluminium swings from surplus to deficit
- Rio Tinto to commence suspension of alumina production at Gove
- Alcoa to close Point Henry Aluminium Smelter and Rolling Mills in Australia
- Rusal witnesses lowest aluminium output in 8 years as smelters shut
- Low aluminium price forces Chinese smelters to cut output
- Tom Albanese appointed as Vedanta CEO
- CME Group to launch aluminium futures contract in May to compete with LME
- Alcoa to curtail 147,000 metric tons of aluminium smelting capacity in Brazil
- LME halts plan to cut metals queues after court ruling
- Novelis marks commercial debut of evercan™ aluminium beverage can sheet
- Spot Aluminium Stockpiles declines for the first time in China over a year
- Chalco plans to cut aluminium output by 16% in 2014
- Indonesian ban on mineral export forces China to find other bauxite sources
- Hydro decides on permanent closure of Kurri Kurri aluminium plant
- Nalco plans to raise aluminium output
- BHP Billion creates new company for its aluminium section
- Aluminium premiums poised for record highs as Europe’s economy improves
- Positive outlook for aluminium demand to lend support to the prices of aluminium in 2015
- London Metal Exchange to appeal against warehouse ruling
- Centre sanctioned Aluminium Park at Odisha’s Angul at a cost of around INR 125 crore
- China’s bauxite imports plunge to 2.12 mln tonnes in May on Indonesia’s export ban
- Vedanta seeks alternative mine for Lanjigarh refinery
- Output cuts expected to shrink China’s aluminium surplus
- India to increase bauxite export taxes to aid aluminium makers
- More aluminum capacity to be dedicated to Autos in North America
- BHP announces their new $14bn metals and mining company
- Alcoa to close Portovesme smelter in Italy
- London Metal Exchange given immunity in aluminium lawsuit
- LME aluminium rose to $2,114, the highest in 2014
- Orissa government grants prospecting lease to Sesa Sterlite for two laterite deposit
- Aluminium 2014 kicks off at Messe Dusseldorf, Germany
- Novelis boost likely for Hindalco
- Fourth straight year of demand growth in North America
- New Jaguar XE car pioneers with 50% recycled content aluminium
- Aluminium companies benefiting by unusually high premiums
- Ford launches its much awaited all-aluminium F-150
- ARABAL 2014 successfully concludes
- IBAAS conference concludes successfully with positive notes for the bauxite & aluminium sector
- Alcoa completes sales of two upstream assets
- Aluminium rebounds as inventories near four-year low
- Aluminium premiums expected to hit record high in 2015
Browsing through the news that made headlines during 2014, we observe that the year started with positive note as aluminium touched its highest level in nearly two months in January. Though it came down to the lowest in February, it also rose to $2,114, the highest in 2014 in August.
After seven-eight years of acute oversupply, the world aluminium market started undergoing a structural change from surplus to deficit in 2014. With the continuous capacity cut by Alcoa, Rusal & Chalco the world inventory has come down considerably. Aluminium premiums, or costs to get metal out of storage, have soared to all-time highs in the United States with Europe and Asia close behind as smelters shut, inventories decreased and spare metal was bought by traders. In December, US aluminium premiums were ruling at $500 per tonne. In Europe, the level was a bit below $500 and in Japan premiums were at about $420 per tonne. According to a Reuters survey, it is going to reach further heights in 2015 benefiting the primary producers.
Some of the major facilities that shut permanently during 2014 were Alcoa’s Point Henry Aluminum Smelter and Rolling Mills, Gove aluminium smelter and Hydro’s Kurri Kurri aluminium plant. Major Chinese aluminium smelters like Chalco also followed up with capacity cut in order to cut aluminium output by 16% in 2014 which has brought down the inventory level in China.
LME was caught in between two different lawsuits, one accusing Goldman Sachs Group Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co and the London Metal Exchange of conspiring to reduce the supply and increase the premium of aluminium. The other was filed by Rusal against implementation of new warehousing rules. The courts however ruled the judgements in favour of LME in both the cases.
In the upstream sector another significant move of 2014 was Indonesia’s mineral export ban which changed the market dynamics for China’s bauxite alumina sector. Indonesian ban on mineral export has forced China to find other bauxite sources.
In the uptstream sector, raw material security paused as a critical issue for miners and aluminium producers. London Listed diversified miner Vedanta has struggled throughout the year to secure raw material for its Lanjigarh refinery. In the mean time, Indian Government raised export duties on bauxite to 20% to solve the issue of shortage of the raw material for local aluminium producers.
The positive outlook for aluminium demand is expected to lend a support for the prices of aluminium in the year 2015. More and more aluminium capacity has been dedicated to automotive sector especially in North America, looking at the growing demand for aluminium in the sector. Alcoa and Novelis have invested considerably in the downstream sector. Ford’s much awaited all-aluminium F-150 goes into production in November and is expected to be launched commercially in 2015.
Issues like recycling, sustainability and carbon neutrality were much in focus throughout the year as all the major aluminium producers have been strongly supporting the same. Novelis launched world’s first commercial use of evercan™, the company’s independently certified high-recycled content aluminium sheet for beverage cans.
Overall the year has been positive for the industry . On the Indian front too, the metal and mining industry is looking forward to whether the new Government is really going to make the needed reforms so that the industry can bounce back in the country. With positive demand outlook for aluminium and the swing from surplus to deficit, 2015 would be a year to look out for.