The Week in Metals: What is “Buy American”?

Is Beijing finally getting serious about cleaning up China’s pollution problem? It looks that way as a plan to shut down about one-third of the country’s older aluminum smelters is gaining traction, according to CRU Group. The report from CRU asserts that this isn’t just posturing because the Chinese government finally cracked down on coal production last year. You’re next, smelters! Who will pick up the slack for aluminum production? Ummm…. Good question.

Tense disagreement minerals

The Trump administration is reportedly considering an executive order that would suspend the conflict minerals rule of the Dodd-Frank banking regulation bill for a period of two years. Business groups have fought the rule in court, saying its requirements are costly and burdensome.

“Dead” Dakota Access Pipeline revived

The Army Corps of Engineers granted an easement to allow construction of the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline to restart this week. The 1,172-mile project would connect oil production areas in North Dakota to a crude oil terminal near Patoka, Ill. Most of it is done, but owner Energy Transfer Partners will now have to complete the last eight miles of the protested pipeline, with American-made steel a requirement. Energy Transfer said it would restart work “immediately.”

Talk about buying American

There is a national security interest in who purchases the former Molycorp rare earths mine in Mountain Pass, Calif., out of bankruptcy court in March. A Swiss investment fund linked to Russian-born billionaire Vladimir Iorich is part of a buyout group that has made a $40 million offer to take Mountain Pass off the bankruptcy court’s hands. Could a Russian-born billionaire really buy what could be the only U.S. source of magnets and batteries for military applications? Considering what the definition of Buy American is (see the pipeline story above)?

And what does "buy American" mean? 

For GOES or rare earths? What does "buy American" even mean for specialty metals producers? There is only one (1) U.S.-based producer of grain-oriented electrical steel, AK Steel. Could AK receive all of the GOES and transformer business for American infrastructure projects? It’s possible. Executive Editor Lisa Reisman explains it all.

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