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  • Wed, Nov. 30, 11:18 AM
    • Iron ore prices fell today by the most since March, extending a retreat from a two-year high, as China’s exchanges lowered the daily trading limit and raised margin requirements in a bid to clamp down on speculation.
    • Ore with 62% content delivered to Qingdao fell 6.8% to $72.08/ton after hitting $80.83 on Monday, the highest since October 2014 and culminating a 65% YTD surge.
    • Despite the steps to tighten trading rules, "the basics that are driving that speculation - the search for higher yielding assets and the desire to hold U.S. dollars at a time for a weaker yuan - have not changed,” says Westpac Banking economist Justin Smirk. “As such, we would expect to see significant volatility for some time.
    • Relevant tickers: BHP, RIO, VALE, OTCQX:FSUMF.
    | Wed, Nov. 30, 11:18 AM | 7 Comments
  • Tue, Nov. 29, 8:55 AM
    • Chevron (NYSE:CVX) is teaming up with Mexico's Pemex and Japan’s Inpex to bid for the right to explore for oil and natural gas in Mexico's first-ever deepwater auction, set for Dec. 5.
    • The auction marks the first time Mexico's state-owned operator will partner with private companies to develop crude in the Gulf of Mexico, and is one of seven groups and eight individual bidders to qualify for participation.
    • Total (NYSE:TOT) is joining forces with BP and Statoil (NYSE:STO) in one group, and with ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) in another, while Eni (NYSE:E) and Lukoil (OTCPK:LUKOY, OTC:LUKOF) also joined up, and Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B) formed another group; other companies involved include BHP, CEO, MUR.
    • The Mexican regulator has not specified which bids are for the Trion field joint venture with Pemex or for the other areas.
    | Tue, Nov. 29, 8:55 AM | 7 Comments
  • Tue, Nov. 29, 8:33 AM
    • Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO) is asking Chinese steel mills to pay a premium for its highest grade iron ore product for the first time since 2010, Reuters reports.
    • Rio is seeking up to $1/ton more than the index price for Pilbara's PB fines from Chinese mills on long-term contracts for 2017, in a break from a years-long trend of pricing at spot values, according to the report; Rio previously was selling the ore at a premium only to traders.
    • Rio reportedly also has pushed up the premium it seeks from traders to $2-$2.50/ton over the index price for PB fines for January to April, which would be a record high and up from a premium of $1.50 for the four-month period through this December.
    • "The steel market is so hot this year and they think it's something that buyers can accept," a source tells Reuters. "If Rio gets it, other miners may follow."
    • Related tickers include BHP, VALE.
    | Tue, Nov. 29, 8:33 AM | 4 Comments
  • Fri, Nov. 25, 2:32 AM
    • Another $181M has been approved by BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) and Vale (NYSE:VALE) in financial support for their Samarco mine disaster in Brazil.
    • The amount is part of a $1.2B provision already foreshadowed by BHP and will include credit lines of $115M each to carry out stabilization work.
    • The accident 12 months ago killed 19 people and led to the filing of charges against 21 officials and employees.
    | Fri, Nov. 25, 2:32 AM
  • Tue, Nov. 22, 6:33 PM
    • Samarco’s quest to obtain permits for resuming its Brazilian iron ore operations is making progress despite environmental fines and a court order, with a mid-2017 restart still possible, the Minas Gerais state environmental regulator says.
    • The venture owned by BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) and Vale (NYSE:VALE), which halted work a year ago after a tailings dam collapse, is seeking a new operating license and additional permits to deposit waste into an unused pit rather than building a new dam; the regulator says it has received all documentation from Samarco and is analyzing the plan to use the vacant pit while it formulates guidelines for the mining complex license.
    • Samarco also needs to also prove it has contained the leaking of mining waste before it can secure licenses, but the regulator says the issue is not slowing the process.
    | Tue, Nov. 22, 6:33 PM | 2 Comments
  • Tue, Nov. 22, 3:45 PM
    • U.S. Steel (X +11.4%), AK Steel (AKS +10.7%), Steel Dynamics (STLD +4.1%), Nucor (NUE +4.4%) and Commercial Metals (CMC +4.7%) all surge to 52-week highs, extending their Trump-fueled rally as trade protectionist talk suggests that higher than usual premiums can be achieved for steel mills.
    • BofA Merrill Lynch raises its 2017 average price estimate for U.S. hot-rolled coil to $650/short ton vs. its prior view of $535, as rising global prices and more protectionism should fuel strong steel prices into 2017 (SLX +5.8%).
    • Bloomberg reports BofA boosted its stock price targets for Buy-rated AKS to $12 from $7, STLD to $37 from $30, CMC to $24 from $20, NUE to $65 from $57, and Allegheny Tech (ATI +7.5%) to $20 from $19; the firm remains Neutral on X and Reliant Steel (RS +6.1%).
    • Also sharply higher today: MT +8.3%, CLF +13.8%, WOR +5.3%, RIO +4.1%, BHP +5.2%, VALE +7.8%.
    | Tue, Nov. 22, 3:45 PM | 15 Comments
  • Fri, Nov. 18, 3:56 PM
    • A federal judge in Brazil has agreed to hear a criminal case against four companies and 22 employees in connection with last year's deadly tailings disaster burst at the Samarco mine.
    • Prosecutors last month filed charges against the suspects, who included current and former executives of Vale (VALE -0.8%) and BHP Billiton (BHP -1.2%), and their Samarco joint venture.
    • Under Brazil’s legal system, a judge must accept the charges in order for the accused to officially become defendants; they now have 30 days to present a defense, at which point they likely will stand trial.
    • Vale and BHP say they “repudiate” the charges and will support the defense of the individuals indicted.
    | Fri, Nov. 18, 3:56 PM | 2 Comments
  • Thu, Nov. 17, 1:09 PM
    • BHP Billiton (BHP +0.7%) CEO Andrew Mackenzie expects the rise in coal and iron ore prices may cool off soon, while BHP Chairman Jac Nasser is cautiously optimism over the outlook for the U.S. after the Trump election.
    • Mackenzie says China’s determination to push through with restructuring in its steel and coal sectors, and its increasing willingness to favor imports over domestic material, has lifted prices alongside other short-term catalysts, but "the reality is that once some of things go through, unless we see more supply disruptions, the market fundamentals would suggest some of those current numbers will drift back."
    • Nasser thinks Trump likely will moderate some of his campaign rhetoric, since the world would be left in “complete trauma if tariff levels are put up across the board to the level [he] suggested."
    | Thu, Nov. 17, 1:09 PM
  • Wed, Nov. 16, 10:56 AM
    • Global copper markets will be oversupplied for at least two years, according to executives at some of the world's top copper producers, casting doubt on the chances of a prolonged rally in prices.
    • The cautious outlook comes after benchmark copper prices last week recorded their biggest weekly gain since 2011, largely fueled by Pres.-elect Trump's promises of infrastructure spending.
    • "In 2017, it will still be a relatively oversupplied market. In 2018 it will not be better than 2017," says a VP at Jiangxi Copper, China's largest copper producer; he also describes the market's recent moves as "irrational."
    • The founder and president of Maike Metals Group, one of China's top metals traders, says China's government needs to control "overspeculation" in the local futures market, hit by volatile trading over the last week as it was whipsawed by speculative cash.
    | Wed, Nov. 16, 10:56 AM | 18 Comments
  • Wed, Nov. 16, 7:48 AM
    • BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) says it will run its iron ore mines at full speed through the year-end amid surging global prices rather than suspend some Australia operations like rival Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO).
    • Rio, Australia's biggest iron ore miner, yesterday announced a two-week shutdown during Christmas at its Hope Downs 4 mine in Western Australia, although it expects the mine to meet its 2016 production target.
    • Fortescue Metals (OTCQX:FSUMF) also says it will keep its operations running through Christmas.
    • BHP -2.5% premarket, RIO -1.8%.
    | Wed, Nov. 16, 7:48 AM
  • Tue, Nov. 15, 5:21 PM
    • BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) is pushing to restructure debt at its Samarco venture, while joint owner Vale (NYSE:VALE) prefers a grace period on payments until it secures licenses to resume mining, Bloomberg reports.
    • While BHP and Vale have said they do not intend to cover Samarco’s $3B-plus debt, they disagree over how to approach banks and bondholders after a year-long production halt in output, according to the report, which notes that BHP’s preference for restructuring would mean a haircut for creditors.
    • Before the Samarco dam failure, the venture was the world’s second largest producer of iron ore pellets and generated more than 2B reais ($580M) in annual profit for its owners.
    | Tue, Nov. 15, 5:21 PM | 31 Comments
  • Fri, Nov. 11, 5:35 PM
    | Fri, Nov. 11, 5:35 PM
  • Fri, Nov. 11, 10:30 AM
    • The price of iron ore jumps 7.4% to $79.70/metric ton, marking its highest level since October 2014, on expectations of better than expected demand in the U.S. and China as well a slower than expected iron ore supply growth in recent months.
    • Iron ore prices have surged 18% since the Trump election victory; other commodities such as copper also have rallied due to expectations that Trump will aim to fulfill his promise of spending more on U.S. infrastructure.
    • But the rise may be overdone, according to Capital Economics Ltd., which expects iron ore to face growing pressure on rising supply from Australia and Brazil as well as headwinds to demand in China.
    | Fri, Nov. 11, 10:30 AM | 41 Comments
  • Fri, Nov. 11, 8:58 AM
    • Copper was trading up 3% in late Asian trade, rising for a seventh straight session and up more than 15% for the week in what would be its biggest weekly gain since 1980, according to Reuters.
    • Copper already had been moving higher by a surge in China steel and coal prices, but Trump's surprise election victory and comments in his acceptance speech on increased infrastructure spending fueled further buying.
    • Traders say the pace of gains has been amplified by momentum-based fund buying, much of it from China, after prices this week smashed through a key chart resistance.
    • Analysts also are revising down expectations of mine supply for 2017, after January's price slump to six-year lows forced some high-cost mines to shut, and with new supply from Peru largely complete.
    | Fri, Nov. 11, 8:58 AM | 34 Comments
  • Fri, Nov. 11, 7:50 AM
    • Iron ore mining joint venture Samarco and its partners Vale (NYSE:VALE) and BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) have 30 days to make a deposit of 1.2B reais ($354M) to fund preparatory measures following last year's tailings dam disaster, Vale says in a Brazilian securities filing.
    • A Brazilian federal court ruled the companies have 90 days to prove the dam burst has been fully contained, and over the next six months they must present plans to clean up the remaining waste that spewed from the Samarco mine, the filing says.
    | Fri, Nov. 11, 7:50 AM | 5 Comments
  • Thu, Nov. 10, 2:56 PM
    • BHP Billiton's (BHP +1.1%) president of mining in the Americas says "complex" negotiations continue with partner Vale (VALE +2.5%) and other stakeholders to restart operations next year at the Samarco mine but he remains confident of a 2017 restart.
    • Daniel Malchuk adds that Vale, Samarco employees, regulators and financial stakeholders must all agree on the terms of renewed operations at the mine.
    • Malchuk says part of BHP's ongoing talks involve under what terms Samarco might use some of Vale's nearby infrastructure for renewed operations.
    • A restart at the mine is crucial for Samarco to begin paying off mounting debts and other liabilities after a tailings dam gave way a year ago, prompting the worst environmental disaster on record in Brazil.
    | Thu, Nov. 10, 2:56 PM | 3 Comments