The Week in Metals: Indonesia, Freeport-McMoran Fight Over Grasberg

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The world’s second-largest copper mine, the Grasberg open pit mine, in Indonesia, sits idle as its operator, Arizona-based Freeport-McMoran, and the government of Indonesia squabble over permitting issues. Freeport says it has a 30-year permit to operate the mine but Indonesia will not renew the compnay’s export license. The government has offered a one-year export extension — if Freeport agrees to build a local smelter and turn control of the mine over to it. Classic mining standoff. You two play nice, now.

What if We Didn’t Count Pass-Throughs as Exports?

President Donald Trump’s administration is mulling changes to how the U.S. calculates trade deficits. The leading idea under consideration would exclude from U.S. exports any goods first imported into the country, such as cars, and then transferred to a third country like Canada or Mexico unchanged. While the idea is controversial, it does bring up a good point that many trade agreements simply legalize production in one member country with export to another with a third country as a simple go-between.

Let’s Talk Turkey Getting Tariffed

Turkey saw imports of rebar slapped with more countervailing duties this week. Government subsidies have long gotten the countervailing treatment, but if another Trump administration idea is written into law, that currency devaluations could be considered a countervailable subsidy, and Turkish rebar could have a lot of company soon.

PSA: I Love You, Opel

The holding company for French auto marks Peugeot and Citroen, PSA, has made a bid for General Motors’ Opel and Vauxhall brands. This would do more than just unite several popular French automotive brands under one tent. MetalMiner Co-Founder Stuart Burns writes that it could by PSA’s attempt to join the global automaker big leagues — or just acquire more capacity to make more Peugeots. There’s always that, too.

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