April was a busy month for the copper world, leaving many people with questions. 

From reroutes and renames to regulations and rates, we’ll catch you up on what you might have missed. 

Industry Updates 

After the March 26th collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key bridge, experts work to determine how to best reroute shipments to prevent delays. 

Current options include nearby ports like Philadelphia, New York, and New Jersey, some of which have said they’re ready to accept Baltimore-bound cargo, despite the increase in traffic. 

Meanwhile, the Baltimore bridge closure is affecting flatbed spot rates. The average cost per load from Baltimore to Hagerstown, MD, shot up to $701 from $592. 

New Name, Same Mission 

The Copper Alliance is becoming the ICA (International Copper Alliance), unifying its name across all operations.  

The move symbolizes the organization’s commitment to serving as the cohesive voice of the global copper industry. 

Aiming High 

Codelco, Chile’s state-run copper miner, has high hopes, as it aims to produce between 1.325 million and 1.39 million metric tons (MMT) of copper this year. The target is slightly more than its 2023 output of 1.325 MMT. 

Rippling Effect of Mine Shutdown 

Since shutting down the Cobre Panama copper mine at the end of November, Panama’s creditors have avoided the country’s bonds, making them one of the worst performers in emerging markets over the past six months. 

Russian Metals Blocked 

Washington and London prohibited metal-trading exchanges from accepting new aluminum, copper, and nickel produced by Russia, and barred the import of the metals into the United States and Britain. The action aims to disrupt Russian export revenue amid Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. 

Earthquake Interrupts Taiwanese Manufacturing 

After suffering its largest earthquake in over two decades, resulting in building collapses and several tsunami warnings in nearby countries, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) temporarily suspended operations.  

Work resumed after further inspection and evaluation of the earthquake’s impact. According to TSMC, no one was injured at the company during the event. 

Independent Contractors See Changes 

A 2021 rule that determined independent contractors were not employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act has been rescinded through a new rule

The new rule, which will soon be published in the Federal Register, allows independent contractors to use a totality-of-the-circumstances analysis of six equally weighted factors. It replaced the old rule, which relied on placing added emphasis on two of its five factors. 

Manufacturing Shows Life in March 

The manufacturing industry felt confident following March’s Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Managers’ Index. 

The index hit 50.3% in March, correlating to positive industry growth. Both new orders and production crossed over into positive territory, encouraging manufacturers to invest more in capacity. 

The Copper Rollercoaster 

Following copper prices sometimes feels like you’re riding a roller coaster you can’t get off.  

After years of stability, copper took a wild turn toward the end of 2019. Since then, prices have risen and fallen like the tides, leaving companies, industries, countries, and investors looking for answers. 

But what is causing prices to buck so wildly? 

Find the Answer Here 

Shipping and Logistics 

Companies rerouting shipments away from the Red Sea are paying the price – literally. 

Not only do alternate routes add as much as 15 days to the average trip, but they can also tack on hundreds of thousands of dollars to fuel costs. Carriers are wrestling with fuel costs of up to $300K per trip for carriers servicing Asia-Europe trade routes. 

Manufacturers Need More Workers 

Labor gaps continue to be a thorn for the manufacturing and packaging industries, with a shortage of more than 10 million people alone in manufacturing. 

The solution could be more automation, aka robots, but sales in North America slipped in 2023 after hitting record highs in 2021 and 2022. The Association for Advancing Automation blames the drop in sales on a slow U.S. economy and over-purchasing in 2022. 

Thermoplastics Report 

Buying activity in the Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) market has shown signs of restraint in the Asian and U.S. markets due to a sluggish recovery in downstream demand, particularly in China’s real estate sector. 

The Polyethylene (PE) Market size was valued at $122.78 billion in 2023. Total revenue is expected to grow at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 3.4% from 2024 to 2030, reaching nearly $155.16 billion. 

During the first half of February 2024, there was a significant increase in the prices of Linear Low-Density Polyethylene (LLDPE) observed both in Europe and the United States. This escalation predominantly stemmed from supply shortages and heightened market demand.

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