Metals Profiles

Year discovered: 1827
Atomic No.: 13
Symbol: Al
Atomic weight: 26.98154
Melting point: 660.37º C
1995 price range: 73.57-97.34¢/lb. (London Metal Exchange cash price.)
Aluminum has a commercial history that dates back to 1889, making it one of the younger workhorse metals. Friedrich Wholer discovered aluminum in 1827 but it took him about 18 years before he could produce a few beads of the shiny metal by reacting aluminum chloride and potassium metal. (Oddly enough, 130 years later industry researchers were still looking—unsuccessfully—for a workable chloride process.) The first practical method for producing aluminum, via electrolytic reduction, was hit upon by two men working independently more than 50 years after Wholer drew his beads. They were Charles Martin Hall, who with some backers had Pittsburgh Reduction Co. (later Aluminum Co. of America) up and running in 1898; and France's Paul Heroult, who set in motion the beginnings of Europe's aluminum industry.
SOURCE: Production within the Memorandum of Understanding (MU) group (the United States, Russia, Canada, the European Union, Australia and Norway) edged up to 12,479,400 tons in 1995 from 12,387,800 tons the year before. The increase would have been somewhat higher except for a strike that impaired production at three Quebec smelters in the fourth quarter. Last year's output was about 613,000 tons under the measuring stick the MU's framers set for themselves when the MU pact was put together: just over 13 million annual tons. The gap was closing quickly early in 1996, however, with global output up about 300,000 annual tons at the beginning of March. U.S. primary aluminum production was up about 77,000 tons, or 2.3 percent, last year to 3,375,241 tons. Coming into March 1996, U.S. output was up another 50,000 annual tons. A sizable piece of U.S. capacity remained idle as the second quarter got under way, consisting mainly of idled Aluminum Co. of America, Reynolds Metals Co. and Alcan Aluminum Corp. smelter capacity but, with inventories rising, wage pacts expiring May 31 at Alcoa and Reynolds Metals smelters—and prices softening counter to general expectations—there appeared to be no rush to get this capacity back on-stream.
REVIEW: Aluminum scratched out a small shipment increase last year following the remarkable recovery staged in 1994. Prices started well but softened toward midyear as the long inventory drawdown that began in June 1994 ran out of steam. New aluminum supply grew as the year progressed, the MU global production pact started winding down and Russian exports to Western hard-cash markets, which were at the root of the 1994 MU arrangement, continued their record-breaking pace. The U.S. aluminum industry squeaked out a 1-percent increase in shipments to 9.46 million metric tons, according to Aluminum Association and Commerce Department figures—not too far from the 1.1-percent drop in aggregate shipments by North America's five leading producers, all of which had idle smelting capacity in 1995 for reasons that included accommodating Russian exports. Back in 1994, the claims for shipment gains as the year was winding down started at 11.4 percent industry-wide, but the five major producers aggregated less than 4.5 percent. The visible London Metal Exchange inventory of primary aluminum dropped by 1,090,225 metric tons, or 65 percent, over the course of 1995, to 584,425 tons—a long way from the mid- June 1994 peak of 2,661,525 tons. But the trend was clearly upward in the final third of the year and this continued into the first third of 1996. From the cycle low of 523,175 tons in mid-September 1995, the LME stock crossed into April higher by more than 225,000 tons, or 43 percent. Except for the shift in the highly visible on-warrant LME surplus, the inventory changes weren't much to write home about, MU- clustered production cuts notwithstanding. The International Primary Aluminium Institute (IPAI) tally for total producer stocks showed a drop of 0.5 percent, or 19,000 tons, in 1995 to 3.56 million tons. The Aluminum Association/Commerce Department estimate for U.S. producer stocks showed the industry exiting 1995 with 1,978,137 tons in store, down a scant 1,360 tons from the final 1994 figure.
PRICES: The spot LME price averaged 81.9 cents a pound in 1995, up smartly from the dismal 67 cents a pound averaged the year before. But 1994 and 1995 were mirror-imaged: the trend was upward in the latter part of 1994 and downward in the latter part of 1995, with the cash price exiting 1994 at 88.7 cents a pound, 1995 at 76.3 cents a pound and the first quarter of 1996 at 74 cents a pound. Prices of aluminum can stock did better in 1995 for reasons that included the recovery in the LME price and the shift by the major can stock suppliers to a formula based on the LME price plus any premium that producer metal sold to dealers might command plus production costs. In mid-1994, can body stock was going at 78 cents a pound and in January 1995, a formula-based tag was about $1.31 a pound. By January 1996, however, the formula price worked out to $1.07 a pound. Prices of common alloy sheet and soft alloy extrusions and other mill products drifted lower in 1995, though without the fanfare that accompanied the rapid-fire increases announced in 1994 and early 1995.
AMM Reporter
Year discovered: B.C.
Atomic No.: 51
Symbol: Sb
Atomic weight: 121.75
Melting point: 630.74º C
1995 price range: $1.25-$2.50/lb. (Domestic merchant price for antimony metal.)
Antimony is a hard, brittle crystalline solid in its most common allotropic form. Silvery white and lustrous, it has a melting point of 630.7 degrees Celsius and a boiling point of 1,380 degrees C. Antimony exhibits poor heat and electrical conductivity. It is used primarily in compounds such as antimony trioxide for flame retardants. That application accounts for 60 to 70 percent of all consumption. Other applications include storage battery components (lead-antimony), ceramics, glass, friction bearings, ammunition, cable sheaths and tank linings. It also is used as an alloying agent in metal castings. At 26 degrees C, its density is 6.6697 grams per cubic centimeter and its hardness is 3.0 to 3.5 on the Moh scale. Antimony’s flame- retardant applications include plastics, textiles and adhesives.
SOURCE: Domestic reserves are estimated to be 81,000 metric tons. World reserves are in excess of 5 million tons, principally in Bolivia, China, Kazakhstan, Russia, South Africa, and Mexico. Companies in the United States that produced primary antimony metal and oxide products in 1995 were Amspec Chemical Corp., Gloucester City, N.J.; Anzon America Inc., Freehold, N.J.; Asarco Inc., New York; Laurel Industries Inc., Cleveland; Sunshine Mining Co., Dallas; and U.S. Antimony Corp., Thompson Falls, Mont.
REVIEW: Domestic smelter production of primary antimony amounted to 17,000 tons in the first three quarters of 1995, and total production for the full year was estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey to be 28,600 tons. In contrast, 18,900 tons were produced in the United States in the first nine months of 1994 and 25,500 tons during all of that year. The Survey estimates that U.S. imports of antimony from all sources in 1995 totaled 44,400 tons, compared with 41,500 tons in 1994. U.S. exports in 1995 were estimated at 4,254 tons vs. 7,850 tons in 1994. Actual industrial consumption of primary antimony in the United States was 13,780 tons in the first nine months of 1995.
PRICES: Domestic merchant prices for antimony metal in 1995 ranged from $2.50 per pound at the end of March down to $1.25 per pound in June and finished at $1.50 per pound in December. U.S. producer prices of high-tint antimony trioxide rose to $2.55 per pound in December from a low of $2.25 per pound in July.
Manufacturing Materials Editor
Year discovered: 1250
Atomic No.: 33
Symbol: As
Atomic weight: 74.9216
Melting point: 817º C (28 atmospheres)
1995 price average: 72.00¢/lb. (Imported from China.)
Arsenic, a silver-gray metalloid seldom encountered in nature in its elemental form, is recovered as a by- product of processing certain ores where the primary product is copper, lead, zinc, gold and/or silver. Therefore, its supply is largely dependent on demand for these metals. Knowledge of arsenic dates back to ancient Greece, but it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that its poisonous characteristics were first described. Metallic arsenic was first produced in the 17th century by heating arsenic trioxide with potash and soap. The first U.S production was reported in 1901, when about 300 tons of arsenious oxide were produced in Everett, Wa., as a by-product of smelting gold and silver ores. Arsenic’s primary use in the United States (80 percent) is in wood preservatives. Metallic arsenic is used in the production of lead alloys for lead-acid batteries and a small amount of high-purity metal is consumed in the manufacture of semiconductors.
SOURCE: World resources of copper and lead contain about 11 million tons of arsenic, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Office of Mineral Information. Substantial resources have been found in copper ores in northern Peru and the Philippines, in copper-gold ores in Chile and in certain gold ores in Canada and elsewhere. Virtually all arsenic metal and compounds consumed in the United States since 1991 were imported, principally from China (44 percent), Chile (14 percent) and Mexico (12 percent), the USGS said. Estimated 1995 imports were 800 metric tons of arsenic metal, down from 1,330 tons in 1994; 31,000 tons of arsenic trioxide, up from 27,500 tons; and 350 tons of various arsenic compounds, up from 5 tons the previous year.
REVIEW: World production of arsenic trioxide, the most common arsenic compound, totaled an estimated 43,000 metric tons in 1995, unchanged from 1994, according to the USGS. U.S. apparent consumption totaled 24,000 tons, up 11.6 percent from 21,500 tons in 1994. The value of arsenic metal and compounds consumed in the United States was estimated at $24 million by the USGS. Domestic demand for arsenic in the wood preservative industry grew in 1995 for the second consecutive year, spurred not so much by new housing starts as by consumption for in-process construction and distributor restocking. In August, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed treatment standards for the land disposal of wastes from wood- preserving operations. Wastes from these processes have been listed as hazardous since 1990. In the proposed standards, EPA recommended the application of universal treatment standards to these wastes. Final standards had not been issued as of early 1996. Substitutes for arsenic compounds exist in most of its major uses, USGS noted, but most are either more expensive or do not perform as well as arsenic. A potential long-term threat to arsenic demand may be seen in the rise in the use of galvanized steel as a substitute for treated wood in homebuilding. But the trend—clearly evident in 1994 and 1995—depends significantly on the cost of lumber vs. steel and the acceptance of steel construction methods by the nation’s homebuilders.
PRICES: Metallic arsenic imported from China averaged an estimated 72 cents per pound in 1995, up significantly from 1994 due to tightness in the market caused by supply disruptions in China. Imported Mexican arsenic trioxide averaged 33 cents per pound in 1995, up a penny from the previous year.
AMM Special Correspondent
Year discovered: 1798
Atomic No.: 4
Symbol: Be
Atomic weight: 9.01218
Melting point: 1,278º C ± 5
1995 price: $160.00/lb. (U.S. price for beryllium contained in beryllium-copper master alloys.)
Beryllium is a gray metal found in beryl and bertrandite ores. Only magnesium and lithium are lighter in weight than beryllium. While brittle, it is considerably tough and its biggest end-use (roughly 65 percent) is as an alloy with copper in electronics, electrical equipment and aerospace applications. It is used in nuclear weaponry and reactors. Beryllium was discovered in 1798 and isolated in 1828.
SOURCE: The United States has very little beryl that can be economically hand-sorted from pegmatites, but domestic deposits of bertrandite ores in Utah and Texas contain about 21,000 tons of beryllium, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Information is not available on the quantity of foreign resources of beryllium-bearing minerals and rocks. Mining is being carried out at the large reserve base of bertrandite in the Spor Mountain area of Utah and two U.S. companies have begun importing beryllium metal and alloys from Kazakhstan. The Defense Logistics Agency continued to offer 2,000-pound lots of beryl for sale once a month from the National Defense Stockpile but no bids were submitted for that material.
REVIEW: Domestic demand for beryllium metal has remained generally flat while demand for beryllium alloys and beryllium-oxide ceramics has increased. Some 57 percent of U.S. consumption was alloy and oxide in electronic components and some 20 percent in the same form for electrical components. Approximately 13 percent was consumed as an alloy, oxide and metal in aerospace and defense applications while the balance was used as an alloy, metal and oxide for other purposes. A new application for the metal is for beryllium-aluminum alloys employed in some military helicopter electro-optical systems. During 1995, the U.S. beryllium consumption of 200 tons was valued at approximately $71 million based on the producer price for beryllium-copper master alloy.
PRICE: The domestic price for beryllium contained in beryllium-copper master alloy remained at $160 per pound during 1995, as it has since 1990.
AMM Reporter
Year discovered: 1450
Atomic No.: 83
Symbol: Bi
Atomic weight: 208.9804
Melting point: 271.3º C
1995 price range: $3.60-$4.05/lb. (First three quarters only.)
Bismuth (Bi) is a soft, course crystalline heavy metal with a silvery white color and pinkish tinge. Before Claude Geoffrey the Younger demonstrated that it was a distinct metal, bismuth often was confused with lead and tin. Bismuth metal is usually produced as a by-product of copper, lead and other metals. Its availability, therefore, is dependent on demand for those metals. Bismuth has a thermal conductivity lower than every other metal except mercury. The leading use of the material is in pharmaceuticals, most commonly in compounds as a stomach ailment remedy.
SOURCE: China, a leading producer of bismuth, cut back its output as the result of reduced production of tungsten. But that decline has not had a significant effect on the U.S. market, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. World production has remained flat due primarily to low prices and level demand. In the United States, bismuth is recovered during processing of lead ore and concentrates, as it is in most areas except China and Korea, where it is found with tungsten ores, and in Australia where it is found with copper-gold ores. In fiscal 1995, the Defense Logistics Agency sold 139 tons of bismuth from the National Defense Stockpile.
REVIEW: New applications for bismuth include bismuth brass as a nontoxic substitute for lead in plumbing fixtures; pigments; ceramic glazes; crystalware; fishing sinkers and shot for hunting, again as a replacement for lead; solders; and lubricating greases. Despite the development of new applications, domestic consumption has remained relatively stable. A number of faucet makers are removing almost all lead from their products. In some newly developed low-lead brasses, selenium has been added to reduce the amount of bismuth required. Bismuth is also used in pharmaceuticals and chemicals.
PRICES: At midyear, the dealer price was $3.60 per pound but it rose to $4.05 per pound by the end of the third quarter of 1995. The price increase was attributed to the lack of assured increases in supply.
AMM Reporter
Year discovered: 1817
Atomic No.: 48
Symbol: Cd
Atomic weight: 112.41
Melting point: 320.9º C
1995 price: $1.84/lb.
Cadmium is a soft bluish-white metal recovered mainly through the smelting of zinc. Found also in copper and lead ores, cadmium has a melting point of 320.9 degrees Celsius and a boiling point of 765 degrees C. The principal use of Cadmium, which was discovered in Germany in 1817, has been in nickel-cadmium batteries, which accounted for 62 percent of all applications in 1995. Other applications in that year included pigments (16 percent), coatings and plating (9 percent), stabilizers for plastics and similar synthetics (9 percent) and alloys and other uses (4 percent).
SOURCE: Cadmium is produced as a by-product of zinc output. Refined cadmium production in the Western World totaled an estimated 14,500 metric tons in 1995, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. An additional 3,500 tons were produced in China, Eastern Europe and the republics of the former Soviet Union. Japan led all countries in production with an estimated 2,600 tons. Canada followed with 2,200 tons while estimated production in Belgium was 1,600 tons. In the United States, production was estimated to be 1,400 tons in 1995, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. That represented an increase of 39 percent from the 1994 total of 1,010 tons. There were two U.S. cadmium producers in 1995: Big River Zinc Corp., Sauget, Ill., and Savage River Zinc Co., Clarksville, Tenn. In December 1995, International Metals Reclamation Co. Inc. (Inmetco), a subsidiary of Inco Ltd., Toronto, started up its new secondary cadmium recovery plant in Ellwood City, Pa. This plant, the first of its kind in the United States, is equipped to recover cadmium from spent nickel-cadmium batteries and convert it into metal shot for use in the production of marketable nickel-chromium-iron remelt alloy. Currently capable of processing more than 3,000 tons of batteries per year, the facility is said to be expandable to 10,000 tons annually when nationwide battery collection programs are more fully developed.
REVIEW: Continuing growth in the demand for battery-powered cellular telephones, camcorders, personal computers and related electronic equipment has underscored the need for improved nickel-cadmium battery recycling rates and disposal practices. Even if the nickel-cadmium technology is not adopted for mass-produced electric vehicles in the United States, the growth in the market is expected to continue. France is now positioned to produce nickel-cadmium-powered electric vehicles on a substantial scale, with both PSA Peugeot Citroen and Renault SA involved. Saft SA has constructed a plant in Bordeaux that is capable of producing enough batteries for at least 50,000 vehicles per year. Cadmium also finds uses in pigments, stabilizers, coatings and alloy markets, all in decline.
PRICES: Prices of cadmium metal rebounded through most of 1994 and 1995 from earlier doldrums, but they still remain volatile. The U.S. Geological Survey reported an average price of $1.84 per pound in 1995 and predicted a strengthening in this price in 1996—particularly late in the year after Japanese consumers draw down excess stocks. By comparison, prices were in the 50- to 60-cent-a-pound range through most of 1993.
Manufacturing Materials Editor
Year discovered: 1860
Atomic No.: 55
Symbol: Cs
Atomic weight: 132.9054
Melting point: 28.40º C
1995 price average: $40.80/lb. (Approximate price for 1-gram ampoules of 99.98% grade cesium metal.)
Cesium is usually found with tantalum, beryllium or lithium. It is a silver-while alkali metal, soft and ductile. Cesium was discovered in 1860 by Bunsen and Kirchoff in mineral water from Durkheim, Germany, and was the first element to be detected spectroscopically. Cesium salts were not reduced to metal until 1880 and had no significant utility until the 1920s, when cesium was used as a coating for tungsten filaments in lighting.
SOURCE: No cesium-bearing ore is mined in the United States. Cesium metal and compounds are produced from pollucite and lepidite ores imported from Canada. Commercial applications are in the electronic, photoelectric and medical fields.
REVIEW: Research and development using cesium involves magneto-hydrodynamic electric power generators, thermionic energy converters and biological research. U.S. imports of cesium compounds and chloride have not been reported by the U.S. government since 1988, when a new reporting system placed various chlorides in the same category. Imports in 1988 were 22,619 kilograms compared with 19,254 kilograms in 1987. The United States is completely reliant on imports, mostly from Canada, with some material coming from Germany and the United Kingdom.
PRICES: The price for a 1-gram ampule of 99.98-percent cesium metal averaged about $40.80 in 1995. The price for 100 grams was $535.
AMM Reporter
Year discovered: 1797
Atomic No.: 24
Symbol: Cr
Atomic weight: 51.996
Melting point: 1,857º C ± 20
1995 price range: 33.00-43.00¢/lb. (High-carbon, charge-grade ferrochromium imported to the United States.)
Chromium is a steel-gray, lustrous, hard and brittle metallic element that takes its name from the Greek word for color—chrome—due to the brilliant colors of its compounds. It is found primarily in chromite, which is composed of iron, chromium and oxygen. Resistant to tarnish and corrosion, it is used to produce stainless steel and to harden steel alloys. Chromium also is used in corrosion-resistant decorative plating and is a pigment in glass.
SOURCE: Chromite resources in the world are estimated at more than 11 billion metric tons of shipping- grade material, and South Africa has the largest annual production capacity of chromite ore. Kazakhstan has the second-largest capacity and Kazakhstan also are first and second in the world, respectively, in ferrochromium capacity. The United States has no chromite ore production; its supplies consist of imported and recycled chromium materials.
REVIEW: Chromite consumption in the United States increased slightly in September 1995 compared with the previous month, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Net production of chromium ferroalloys and metal in September 1995 increased 5 percent compared with production data for August. U.S. imports of high-carbon ferrochromium in the first 10 months of 1995 were running well ahead of imports in 1994. Total imports of high-carbon ferrochromium were 248,000 tons (gross weight) in 1994. Imports had already reached 303,000 tons through August 1995. Three quarters of the total high-carbon ferrochromium imports came from four countries: South Africa (88,200 tons through August 1995), 29 percent; Turkey (61,000 tons), 20 percent; Russia (47,500 tons), 15.7 percent; and Kazakhstan (34,300 tons), 11.3 percent. U.S. imports of chromium ferroalloys were up 60 percent in 1995 to a projected 562,667 tons compared with 317,000 tons in 1994. That increase reflects an approximately 15-percent increase in U.S. stainless steel production to 2.1 million tons in 1995 from 1.83 million tons in 1994. U.S. imports of chromite ore totaled 201,000 tons in 1994 and were at 164,000 tons through September 1995. The bulk of those imports came from South Africa, which sent 112,000 tons, or 79 percent of total chromite imports, into the United States through August. The rest came from India, which supplied 17 percent (24,500 tons) and the Philippines, which provided the remaining 4 percent (5,000 tons). In September 1994, the Defense Logistics Agency said it was implementing the maximum disposal authority for its fiscal 1995 Annual Materials Plan, spanning Oct. 1, 1994 through Sept. 30, 1995, involving 50,000 short dry tons of chemical- grade chromite ore and 220,000 short dry tons of metallurgical-grade chromite ore in the national defense stockpile. In October 1994, the agency announced its intent to issue a consolidated long-term solicitation for about 181,000 tons of chromite ore. On Nov. 8, 1995, the DLA sold 17,100 tons of metallurgical-grade chromite ore to MK Technology Trading Inc., Washington, for $1.05 million. On Nov. 21, 1995, the DLA accepted bids for additional sales of chromite ore and was continuing to negotiate those bids in December.
PRICES: The price for chromium ranged from 33 cents per pound for 50- to 55-percent charge-grade material in January 1995 to 83 cents a pound in May for high-carbon ferrochromium imported into the United States.
AMM Reporter
Year discovered: 1735
Atomic No.: 27
Symbol: Co
Atomic weight: 58.9332
Melting point: 1,495º C
1995 price range: $27.37-$31.74/lb. (Producer cathode price.)
Cobalt is a silver-gray metal; its main uses are in high-temperature alloys, magnetic alloys and hard-facing alloys resistant to abrasion. Cobalt has been in use since at least 2250 B.C., when Persians used it to color glass. Cobalt was in use in Egypt in the 15th Century when, at the same time, German miners dubbed the pyrites they found with copper-nickel-cobalt iron ores “kobald,” meaning goblin or evil spirit. The pyrites were so named because they would not yield metal. Swedish scientist G. Brant isolated metallic cobalt in 1735 and it was recognized as an element in 1780.
SOURCE: U.S. reported consumption of cobalt materials in 1995 was running slightly lower than 1994, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. In 1994, U.S. reported consumption was 6,870 metric tons. Consumption was reported at 4,740 tons through September 1995. U.S. imports of cobalt metal and cobalt contained in chemicals from January through August 1995 were basically the same as the year-earlier period, but exports were 17 percent higher in the first eight months of 1995 than they were in the like period of 1994. World refinery production of cobalt totaled 18,500 tons in 1994, with the bulk of that tonnage—4,000 tons—coming from Russia. Another 3,000 tons came from Finland, 2,950 from Canada, 2,820 from Norway, 2,500 from Zambia and 2,200 from Zaire.
REVIEW: The U.S. Department of Defense proposed revisions to the fiscal 1996 Annual Materials Plan for the disposal of national defense stockpile materials. In the revised plan, the maximum quantity of cobalt that can be sold during the year that began Oct. 1, 1995, was increased to 6 million pounds from 4 million pounds. The Department of Defense also proposed a fiscal 1997 materials plan with a disposal authority of 6 million pounds for cobalt. In the first nine months of 1995, superalloys, used mainly in the manufacture of aircraft and turbine engines, were responsible for 40 percent of U.S. cobalt consumption. Cemented carbides were responsible for 12 percent, driers in paint or related usage for 11.6 percent, catalysts for 10.6 percent and magnetic alloys for 10 percent.
PRICES: The 1995 producer cathode price averaged $29.21 per pound, going as high as $31.74 per pound and as low as $27.37 per pound, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
AMM Reporter
Year discovered: circa 8000 B.C.
Atomic No.: 29
Symbol: Cu
Atomic weight: 63.546
Melting point: 1,083.4º C ± 0.2
1995 price average: $1.33/lb. (Comex prices.)
The chemical element copper is a reddish metal at the head of group lB in the periodic table. It follows the first transitional series of elements. Copper is believed to have been discovered near the site of a village in the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, “the cradle of civilization,” in what is now Iraq. Deposits in Egypt were worked as early as 5,000 B.C. The word copper is derived from “cyprus.” Valued for its lustrous appearance, copper is an excellent conductor of electricity and is celebrated for its corrosion resistance. Used in a broad range of alloys, it is the basis for brass and bronze.
SOURCE: Copper today is mined in many parts of the world, some of the largest producers being Chile, Peru, the United States, Zaire and Zambia. Copper in its native state—such as that found in the Lake Superior region of North America—is often so pure that it requires only melting with a flux to produce “lake copper,” which for many years was the world standard for pure copper. About 80 percent of all copper mined today, however, is derived from low-grade ores containing 2 percent or less of the element. Half of the world’s copper deposits are in the form of chalcopyrite ore. All important copper-bearing ores fall into two main classes: oxidized ores and sulfide ores. Sulfide ores are more important commercially. Ores are removed either by open-pit or by underground mining. Ores containing as little as 0.4-percent copper can be mined profitably in open-pit mining, but underground mining is profitable only if an ore contains at least 0.7-percent copper.
REVIEW: Copper mine production (excluding China and the CIS) increased about 7.7 percent last year to approximately 8.14 million metric tons. Total refined supply, including secondary refined production from scrap rose about 5 percent to 10.4 million tons in 1995. A flood of new mine output is expected to hit the market in the latter part of the decade, growing at a compound annual rate of 6 percent through 1998. The largest increase in copper output is expected to be in Chile, where greenfield and expansion projects could add as much as 1 million tons of new capacity over the next three years. Other areas where production could rise significantly are Australia and the United States, which each could boost capacity by 200,000 tons, and Peru, Indonesia and Argentina, which could each see output rise as much as 100,000 tons in the next few years. Copper demand started to cool in the latter months of 1995 after running hot through the first half of the year. The second half of the year was characterized by rising London Metal Exchange copper inventories and a gaping spot-to-3-month LME backwardation, which widened to record levels in December. The backwardation drew more metal into LME warehouses, creating the semblance of nearby tightness that helped buoy prices in the face of declining demand, but it underscored the growing awareness that a significant portion of the copper going onto the exchange was surplus to needs.
PRICES: As LME inventories mounted in the latter months of 1995, prices fell to a low of $1.13 a pound in December. Despite the steep drop toward the end of the year, lofty prices at the beginning of 1995 led to an average annual price of about $1.33 a pound. The anticipated flood of new supply is expected to put increasing downward pressure on prices in 1996.
Associate Editor
Year discovered: 1875
Atomic No.: 31
Symbol: Ga
Atomic weight: 69.72
Melting point: 29.78º C
1994 price range: $380.00-$425.00/kg. (99.9999% pure gallium -- 1995 figures not available.)
Gallium is a silvery-white, high purity metal that becomes liquid at slightly more than room temperature. The metal is a by-product of certain aluminum and zinc ores contained in diaspore, spahalerite, germanite, bauxite and coal. The element gallium was discovered by French chemist Lecoq de Boisbaudran in 1875 but the metal was largely unused until the 1940s, when commercial recovery began in the United States.
SOURCE: Crude gallium production worldwide was estimated at 51,000 kilograms in 1994. No domestic production of primary gallium has been reported since 1982, when Aluminum Co. of America ceased recovering it from bauxite. Two companies are recovering and/or refining gallium from secondary sources in Oklahoma and Utah. U.S. gallium demand was supplied primarily by imports, of which France, Russia and Germany supplied 41 percent, 31 percent and 11 percent, respectively, of all U.S. imports in 1994.
REVIEW: Approximately 65 percent of the demand was for optoelectronic devices—light-emitting diodes, laser diodes, photodetectors and solar cells—while 33 percent was used in integrated circuits. The remaining 2 percent was used in research and development and other applications. The United States imported 16,900 kilograms of gallium for consumption during 1994, an 8.3-percent increase from 1993 imports of 15,600 kilograms. The U.S. consumed 15,500 kilograms in 1994, a 37-percent jump from the 11,300 kilograms consumed in 1993.
PRICES: Quoted year-end U.S. prices for gallium metal declined by $5 per kilogram for 99.99999-percent- pure material in 1994 to $395 per kilogram. Year-end prices on 99.9999-percent-pure imports ranged from $380 to $425 per kilogram.
AMM Reporter
Year discovered: 1886
Atomic No.: 32
Symbol: Ge
Atomic weight: 72.59
Melting point: 937.4º C
1995 price range: $260.00-$950.00/kg. (Zone-refined germanium.)
Germanium is chiefly a by-product of zinc ores and is found in germanite, argyrodite, renieride and coal. It is often derived from zinc smelter flue systems.
SOURCE: The estimated 1995 domestic production of germanium was 10,000 kilograms, about the same as in 1994 and 1993, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, Office of Minerals Information. Domestic consumption was an estimated 25,000 kilograms, unchanged from the prior year. The United States imported an estimated 13,000 kilograms of germanium in 1995, and there were some producer stocks that could be used as well. As of Sept. 30, the national stockpile inventory of germanium was 68,207 kilograms, about the same as in the past several years. Major end-uses were fiber-optic systems, 40 percent; infrared optics, 15 percent; detectors, 10 percent; semiconductors including transistors, diodes and rectifiers, 5 percent; and other applications, 30 percent. Included in the final category are catalysts, phosphors, metallurgy and chemotherapy.
REVIEW: The major U.S. germanium producers are Eagle Picher Industries Inc.’s Quapaw, Okla., specialty materials division; Cabot Corp., Revere, Pa.; and Atomergic Chemetals Corp., Plainview, N.Y. Only Eagle Picher recovered primary germanium from zinc smelter residues. The others produced the element from reprocessed germanium scrap and semi-refined foreign material. There was little germanium recovered from old scrap. More than 50 percent of the element used in the manufacture of most electronic and optical devices was recaptured as new scrap. Import sources were estimated as follows: United Kingdom, 16 percent; Belgium, 15 percent; Germany, 14 percent; China, 13 percent; and others, 42 percent.
PRICES: Starting in February 1995, the free-market price for 99.99-percent germanium oxide rose rapidly to a range of $850 to $950 per kilogram. The fiber-optic sector was demanding increased amounts, and concern continued about available supplies from the former Soviet Union. Market watchers concluded, however, that there would be increased production from North American sources and increased shipments from China.
Staff Editor, Secondary Materials
Year discovered: circa 3000 B.C.
Atomic No.: 79
Symbol: Au
Atomic weight: 196.9665
Melting point: 1,064.43º C
1995 price average: $384.00/troy oz.
Gold, also known as the heraldic metal, is one of the most valuable and certainly one of the most versatile precious metals. Its brilliant surface and unmatched beauty have made gold the most popular metal for jewelry and ornaments in virtually every culture across the globe. Its chemical symbol comes from the Latin word “aurum,” meaning shining dawn. But gold is also the most malleable and ductile of all metals. These qualities, coupled with the fact that gold does not tarnish or corrode, make it useful in a number of applications, from electronic circuit boards in high-speed computers to protective shields for the space shuttle.
SOURCE: Gold was one of the first metals used by man; it was first recognized as a valuable metal for coinage by ancient Middle East civilizations, where it was usually alloyed it with other metals. It is mined on every continent except Antarctica, with some of the larger gold deposits located many hundreds of feet below the earth’s surface. World mine production reached about 50 million troy ounces in 1995, slightly lower than the previous year’s output, which marked the first drop in gold production in 15 years. Although there has been steady mining growth in developing countries in the past few years, it has not been enough to offset declining output from South Africa, which has been hit by labor disruptions, rising costs and lower ore grades. Despite the growing pains associated with that country’s new post-apartheid government, South Africa maintained its role as the leading gold producer in 1995, followed by the United States, Australia, Canada and Russia. Gold output is expected to rebound, however, as analysts predict Western World mine output to increase 2 to 3 percent in 1996 and 1997. The total world gold supply, including scrap and sales from former Eastern bloc countries, has been pegged at around 76 million ounces, up from approximately 71.6 million ounces the previous year.
REVIEW: In the last week of November 1995, the gold market did something it hadn’t done in the past 20 years—it went into backwardation. This phenomenon, where spot metal is more expensive than forward metal, sparked a great deal of excitement in the market and drove prices and lease rates upward. Lease rates soared to record highs, with borrowers having to pay 11 to 12 percent for overnight metal. The unusually high cost of borrowing gold caused central banks to withhold metal from the lending markets, which led to tightness in the physical market. Overall demand was strong in 1995, particularly in the first two quarters, but had little effect on prices throughout much of the year.
PRICES: Prices spiked to nearly $390 an ounce toward the end of 1995, primarily because of nearby tightness created by escalating lease rates and the highly unusual backwardation. On the year, prices averaged about $384 an ounce, virtually unchanged from 1994.
Associate Editor
Year discovered: 1863
Atomic No.: 49
Symbol: In
Atomic weight: 114.82
Melting point: 156.61º C
1995 price average: $375.00/kg.
Indium is produced in the United States from treatment of smelter-flue dust, slag, bullion and other residues from zinc and base metal concentrates. It is a soft, silvery-white metal used in electronic instruments. The Office of Minerals Information estimates U.S. consumption of indium in 1995 to be about 43 metric tons, up from 40 metric tons in 1994.
SOURCE: Two domestic companies remained the major producers of indium metal and indium products in the United States: Indium Corp. of America, Utica, N.Y.; and Arconium Specialty Alloys, Providence, R.I. All domestic indium production in 1995 was derived from upgrading lower-grade imported indium metal as no indium was recovered from domestic ores. The Office of Minerals Information estimated indium imports at 73 metric tons in 1995, up from 70.2 metric tons in 1994. World production of indium increased slightly in 1995, as producers were barely able to keep pace with growing world demand, especially in Japan, which consumes more than 80 tons per year, almost all for electronic applications. End-uses in 1995 were about the same as in 1994: coatings, 45 percent; solders and alloys, 35 percent; electrical components and semiconductors, 15 percent; and research and other 5 percent.
PRICE: Indium tags soared early in the year, reversing a five-year trend of declining prices. They settled down for the remainder of the year, and posted an average price of $375 per kilogram for the year as a whole.
AMM Reporter
Year discovered: circa 1000 B.C.
Atomic No.: 82
Symbol: Pb
Atomic weight: 207.2
Melting point: 327.502º C
1995 average price range: 22.86-35.04¢/lb. (London Metal Exchange spot prices.)
Lead, a very soft bluish-white metal, highly malleable, ductile and a poor conductor of electricity, is obtained from mining ore, mainly galena, and recovered through a roasting or refining process. Its major end-use is in storage batteries, accounting for about 60 percent of world lead consumption. Lead is still commonly used in ammunition, construction, plumbing and cable covering, although many manufacturers on their own or under legislative mandate, were shifting to alternative materials because of lead’s toxicity. Because of lead’s resistance to corrosion, it is used for containers holding such corrosive liquids as sulfuric acid. The metal is also used to dampen noise and as a radiation shield for X-rays and nuclear reactors.
SOURCE: In the United States, lead was mined in Alaska, Missouri, Idaho, Colorado and Montana either by itself or, more commonly, as a co-product of zinc mining, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Other primary producing countries were Australia, Canada, China, Kazakhstan, Peru and Sweden, according to the International Lead and Zinc Study Group. At the end of 1995, total world production of refined lead was estimated to be 5.372 million metric tons compared with 5.368 million tons in 1994, according to ILZSG.
REVIEW: During 1995 there were a few major events that affected the lead market in one way or another. In May, three professors from Carnegie Mellon University issued a report, which appeared in The New York Times and eventually the journal Science, entitled “Environmental Implications of Electric Cars.” This article disparaged the use of lead-acid batteries and production of primary and secondary lead due to what they said are harmful emissions. The aftermath of the article’s publishing resulted in counter reports from the lead community as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, The Electric Transportation Coalition and the California Air Resources Board. In June, the EPA issued its final rule on National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants from secondary lead smelting. This rulemaking, though expected by the community, affected secondary lead smelters that use blast, reverberatory, rotary or electric-arc furnaces to recover lead, mainly from batteries. In June, Britannia Refined Metals Ltd., Bristol, England—the only primary lead refiner in the United Kingdom and one of the largest in Europe— announced it expected a 50,000-ton shortfall in refined lead production primarily because of a three-week work stoppage at Mount Isa Mines, its chief feedstock supplier. In August, the concentrator at Anvil Range Mining Corp.’s Yukon-based Faro lead and zinc mine finally completed a full day of concentrate production after enduring several periods of setbacks throughout the year. The mill has the capacity to produce approximately 500,000 tons of concentrates containing approximately 60-percent zinc and 40- percent lead.
PRICES: London Metal Exchange spot prices began the year at 30.5 cents a pound and remained steady until mid-February, when they hit an eight-month low of 22.86 cents a pound. Prices recovered somewhat from then, but did not break through 30 cents a pound, basis cash, until late October, when lead reached a five-year high of 32.02 cents a pound. As positive supply-demand fundamentals were realized in the market, spot prices continued to reach levels unseen in five years and a backwardation emerged. In late November, cash prices hit a fresh five-year high of 35.04 cents a pound before ending the year at 32.39 cents a pound.
AMM Reporter
Year discovered: 1808
Atomic No.: 12
Symbol: Mg
Atomic weight: 24.305
Melting point: 648.8º C ± 0.5
1995 price range: $1.41-$2.04/lb. (Free-market magnesium price.)
Magnesium is the eighth most abundant element in the earth’s crust. There’s enough of it already dissolved in seawater to satisfy the world’s requirements until the Millennium. Magnesium was discovered as a chemical element by Sir Humphrey Davy in 1808, but it took 22 more years and French scientist A. Bussy to isolate it via magnesium chloride reduction. Magnesium is used as the main alloying element in aluminum sheet for the production of aluminum cans, and the use of magnesium alloys in die casting is increasing rapidly.
SOURCE: Magnesium is produced for profit in such places as the United States and Canada, Western Europe, South America and Asia. In the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) it is produced for hard Western cash and, like aluminum, seems to be exported to the West in pursuit not of profit but for what the traffic will bear.
REVIEW: Primary magnesium shipments set new records in 1995, but the Russians and Chinese claimed a larger share of the Western market, not too far from the record 20-percent stake they took in 1993. Western producers marked their prices up smartly over most of 1995, but free-market tags started softening last fall and the downtrend picked up steam right into the second quarter of 1996. The International Magnesium Association (IMA) put primary magnesium shipments to customers outside Eastern Europe and China at a record 304,000 metric tons last year for a gain of nearly 6 percent on the year before. The Russians and Chinese upped their exports to a peak 55,300 tons in 1995 from 44,200 tons the year before, in the process upping their share of the Western market to 18.2 percent from 15.4 percent in 1994. They had a 20-percent share in 1993 but needed to send only 50,100 tons then to get it. After letting their inventories fall to all- time lows in the first half of 1995, in the process reinforcing the price rise at the producer and free-market levels, Western producers started cranking out more metal in the latter half of the year, with the result that output for the year as a whole popped up to 248,200 tons from 224,100 tons in 1994. The Western producer inventory nonetheless slipped from 23,300 tons at end-1994 to 22,800 tons coming into 1996. The producer stock exiting 1995 was equal to only 41 percent of Russian/Chinese exports to Western markets that year. Shipments to the die-casting market, wherein the magnesium producers can take the measure of their courtship efforts in the automotive field, rose 25 percent last year to 64,100 tons—about a fifth of total shipments. The Russians and Chinese, meanwhile, apparently managed a toehold in this sector by shipping in 2,900 tons compared with a meager 800 tons in 1994. Russian and Chinese magnesium made their biggest score with aluminum can stock producers in the Asian and Oceanian markets—notably Japan and Australia—which took 19,100 tons in 1995 compared with 8,200 tons the year before. The aluminum alloyers remain magnesium’s largest single customer, accounting for 157,100 tons, or 51.7 percent, last year and 143,000 tons, or 49.8 percent, in 1994.
PRICES: Russian and Chinese 99.9-percent primary magnesium exports priced out of Rotterdam were down anywhere from 27 to 32 cents a pound from end-1995 postings coming into the second quarter of this year to $1.54 a pound for material from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and $1.315 a pound for Chinese material. Western producer tags for unalloyed primary material were bumped up 55 cents in 1995 to $1.93 a pound by early September and were still at that level crossing into the second quarter of 1996. CIS magnesium was $1.95 a pound during the September 1995 hikes; it was down to $1.54 a pound as the second quarter of 1996 got under way.
AMM Reporter
Year discovered: 1774
Atomic No.: 25
Symbol: Mn
Atomic weight: 54.9380
Melting point: 1,244º C ± 3
1995 price: $2.40/metric ton unit (Metallurgical manganese ore, c.i.f., U.S. ports.)
Manganese, first produced by reduction of the dioxide with carbon, is a gray-white, hard and brittle metal. Magnesium metal was first produced by Sir Humphry Davy in 1808 by reduction of magnesium oxide with potassium vapor. The first commercial production was undertaken in France in 1863, and U.S. industrial production began in 1914 in Schenectady, N.Y., at a plant built by General Electric Co. While critical to steel production, manganese also is used in batteries, chemicals and pig iron.
SOURCE: More than 80 percent of the world’s manganese resources come from South Africa and the former Soviet Union, but sources indicated in October 1995 that, within two years, manganese would be mined and metal produced in Costa Rica, at a potential mine site in the northwestern part of the country within the coastal Guancaste Province. The United States, which has no significant mine production of its own, relies primarily on South Africa for its supply of ferromanganese; of 33,300 metric tons of manganese imported in September 1995, 12,650 tons, or 38 percent, came from South Africa. Another 10,900 tons, or 33 percent, came from France. Reported consumption of manganese ore containing 35 percent or more manganese, exclusive of that at iron and steel plants, rebounded in October 1995 to 36,400 metric tons, a rise of about 14 percent compared with September 1995, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, bringing the year-to-date total to 342,000 tons. Those figures increase to 40,900 tons and 388,000 tons, respectively, when estimates for annual respondents are added on the basis of 1994 data. Corresponding industry stocks of ore at the end of October 1995 were estimated at about 224,000 tons, a decrease of 0.7 percent compared with the corresponding figure for stocks at the end of September.
REVIEW: The Defense Logistics Agency, U.S. Department of Defense, reported a cash disposal for October 1995 from the national defense stockpile of 103,414 tons of metallurgical-grade ore. Ethyl Corp., Richmond, Va., announced Oct. 20 that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to register, retroactive to Nov. 30, 1993, the company’s methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl (MMT) for use in unleaded gasoline. In April 1995, the court ruled that the EPA should grant a fuel additive waiver to the company for MMTremoving the last legal barrier to commercial use of MMT in unleaded gasoline in the United States. On Oct. 27, 1995, the U.S. International Trade Commission announced its unanimous decision that U.S. industry was not being hurt by imports of manganese sulfate from China. As a result , no anti-dumping duties were assessed on Chinese manganese sulfate although the Commerce Department had made a final determination that sales of such material likely have been at less than fair value. The government’s decisions and investigations were in response to petitions filed by American MicroTrace Corp., Virginia Beach, Va., in November 1994. The European Commission established minimum prices for imports of silicomanganese into member states of the European Union, effective from Oct. 14, 1995, which apply to imports from Brazil, Russia, South Africa and Ukraine, except that undertakings were accepted from South Africa and Ukraine. The schedule of minimum prices replaced provisional anti-dumping duties ranging from 41 percent to 58 percent that had been in effect since December 1994.
PRICES: The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the 1995 price of 46- to 48-percent metallurgical manganese ore, c.i.f. U.S. ports, at $2.40 per metric ton, the same as in 1994. That price was down from $2.60 in 1993, $3.52 in 1992 and $3.72 in 1991.
AMM Reporter
Year discovered: circa 1500 B.C.
Atomic No.: 80
Symbol: Hg
Atomic weight: 200.59
Melting point: -38.842º C
1995 price average: $250.00/flask (Dealer price.)
Mercury is recovered mainly from cinnabar ores. Additionally, it is refined from corderite and other mercury ores and minerals and is found in small quantities as a by-product of gold refining. Connoting the fleet-footedness of the ancient Roman god of commerce and messenger of the gods, mercury is the only common metal found in a liquid state at room temperature. The heavy, silvery-white poisonous metal rarely occurs free in nature. Also known as quicksilver, the metal is a colorless vapor above its boiling point of 357.58 degrees Celsius and a white solid below its melting point of minus 38.87 degrees C. The first recorded mention of mercury was made by Aristotle in the Fourth Century B.C., at which time it was used in religious ceremonies. Today, sold primarily in 76-pound flasks for commercial use, mercury’s applications include electrical apparatus, the electrolytic preparation of chlorine and caustic soda, the manufacture of mildew-proof paint and in industrial and control instruments.
SOURCE: World sources for mercury are estimated at nearly 600,000 tons, principally in Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Slovenia, Spain and Ukraine, according to the Office of Minerals Information of the U.S. Geological Survey. The supply is estimated to be sufficient for another century or more, especially with declining consumption rates.
REVIEW: Imports of mercury increased dramatically in 1995 after sales of mercury from the national defense stockpile were temporarily suspended in 1994, according to the Office of Minerals Information. Stockpile sales will not resume until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Defense Logistics Agency can determine a way to sell the mercury to ensure that its use will not lead to environmental problems. Consumption remained nearly the same because of the gradual elimination of mercury from many products and processes. Mercury use in consumer batteries has dropped to about 5 tons per year since its use has been restricted to alkaline button cells for hearing aids, pagers and other small electronic devices. Military and medical equipment still use mercuric-oxide batteries because of the lack of acceptable substitutes. The value of mercury used in the United States was estimated at $3.6 million. It was estimated that 28 percent of domestic consumption was used in the production of chlorine and caustic soda; 23 percent for electronic and electrical applications; 16 percent for instruments and related products; and 33 percent for other uses. Recovery of mercury from scrap materials—including spent batteries, tilt switches, measuring devices, fluorescent light tubes, chlorine and caustic soda wastewater sludges, dental amalgams and other products—has remained nearly the same for the past two years. State and federal studies are continuing on the development of effective substitutes for mercury in switches, electrical devices and dental amalgams; however, production is not expected for several years. A new low-mercury fluorescent light tube became available in late 1995. The four-foot tube contains 10 milligrams of mercury compared with 22.8 milligrams in currently produced lamps, down from an industry average of 38.4 milligrams per tube in 1990. The low-mercury content in these lamps should allow for their disposal as nonhazardous waste.
PRICES: Domestic dealer prices in 1995 averaged $250 per 76-pound flask, higher than the previous year’s average of $194.45 per flask, according to Office of Minerals Information data.
AMM Reporter
Year discovered: 1782
Atomic No.: 42
Symbol: Mo
Atomic weight: 95.94
Melting point: 2,617º C
1995 year-end price: $7.025/lb. (Price for ferromolybdenum per pound of contained molybdenum.)
Molybdenum is a silvery-gray metal used as an alloy to strengthen steel and make it less susceptible to rust and corrosion. Molybdenum metal was separated out in 1782 by P.J. Hjelm after groundwork was laid by the Swedish chemist Karl Scheele. But the material was not widely employed until World War I, when it was used to toughen armor plating. Molybdenite, the primary source of the metal, may be mined as a primary ore or as a by-product of other mineral production, usually copper.
SOURCE: The United States, Chile, Canada and the Commonwealth of Independent States are the largest producers and account for 90 percent of world output of molybdenum ore. Plants to convert ore concentrates to technical-grade oxide and other molybdenum products are located in Chile, Western Europe, the United States and the CIS, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Major U.S. producers of molybdenum and molybdenum products are Cyprus Amax Minerals Co., Englewood, Colo.; Thompson Creek Metals Co.; Salt Lake City-based Kennecott Corp., a unit of RTZ-CRA, London; Magma Copper Co., Tucson, Ariz.; and Montana Resources Inc., Butte, Mont. The world’s top two producers of molybdenum were Cyprus Amax and Chile’s state-owned Corporacion Nacional del Cobre de Chile (Codelco).
REVIEW: Producer molybdenum stocks in concentrate, oxide and other product forms totaled 9,500 metric tons at the beginning of 1995 and 10,200 metric tons at the end of October 1995. U.S. production of contained molybdenum in concentrate was 48,700 metric tons as of October 1995, according to the former U.S. Bureau of Mines.
PRICES: Merchant prices for ferromolybdenum by the end of 1995 stood at about $7.025 per pound; $2.80 per pound for molybdenum concentrate; and $4.475 per pound for molybdenum oxide, the Bureau of Mines said.
AMM Reporter
Year discovered: 1751
Atomic No.: 28
Symbol: Ni
Atomic weight: 58.69
Melting point: 1,453º C
1995 price range: $2.50-$4.73/lb.
Nickel is a hard, silvery-white metal known primarily for its use in coins but which has a wide range of applications, mainly as an alloy to improve the strength and corrosion resistance of other metals. A chemical element, nickel is a member of the transition series of elements along with iron, cobalt, palladium and five others. The first relatively pure sample of nickel was produced by Swedish chemist Baron Axel F. Cronstedt from an ore German miners called Kupfernickel (“Old Nick’s copper”). Most nickel is used in alloys where high resistance to corrosion is important, such as for chemical reaction vessels and pump parts. Pure nickel is used in electron tubes and in the galvanic plating industry, where many objects must be coated with nickel before they can be chrome plated. The U.S. coin known as the nickel actually contains 75-percent copper and 25-percent nickel.
SOURCE: Although a number of new mines are being developed along with an array of expansion projects, nickel production continued to run short of demand in 1995 and, although the gap is closing, is expected to be in deficit again this year. Total Western World supply was estimated at about 798,000 metric tons last year vs. demand of approximately 875,000 tons, according to analysts. This 77,000-ton deficit is expected to shrink considerably in 1996, more because of easing demand than higher production however. Nonetheless, expansions at existing mines in Canada and Australia—two of the world’s largest nickel producers—and a planned upgrade at Russia’s huge Norilsk Nickel, should pump more nickel into the market in the near future. Several other major mining projects in Peru, Australia, Tanzania and Canada loom on the horizon and are expected to come on-stream around the end of the decade. The largest and most anticipated project currently in development is the Voisey’s Bay nickel-copper-cobalt discovery in Labrador.
REVIEW: World nickel consumption soared in 1995, rising approximately 12 percent from the previous year’s level to around 875,000 tons. The driving force behind the increasing demand for nickel was the continued success of the stainless steel market, which saw production increase about 16 percent in the first half of the year before tapering off in the latter months. Strong demand soon outstripped supply, creating a 20,000- to 80,000-ton deficit. Another important development last year was the steady drawdown of nickel stocks from London Metal Exchange warehouses. LME nickel inventories fell some 110,000 tons to about 40,000 tons from a high of more than 150,000 tons at the beginning of the year.
PRICES: Rising consumption coupled with the growing supply deficit kept prices firm in 1995, averaging about $4.73 per pound on the year despite bouts of volatility.
AMM Associate Editor
Platinum group metals—platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium—have been dubbed the noble metals because of their high resistance to oxidation and corrosion. Rare and costly, they are mainly used in catalysts, electronics and jewelry.
SOURCE: In 1995 Montana led the United States in the production of platinum group metals, with some secondary production coming from copper mining in Texas and Utah. The world’s largest suppliers are located in Russia and South Africa.
Year discovered: 1735
Atomic No.: 78
Symbol: Pt
Atomic weight: 195.08
Melting point: 1,772º C
1995 price range: $401.20-$467.10/troy oz. (New York Mercantile Exchange.)
Platinum was first used by the pre-Columbian Indians of Ecuador, who made articles from the pure metal as well as from a crude platinum-gold alloy. Spanish colonists named the infusible metal “platina,” or “little silver.” The metal has a melting point of 1,772 degrees Celsius, is silver-white and has a relatively high degree of electrical resistance.
REVIEW: World mine production of platinum in 1995 was estimated at 3.606 million troy ounces, compared with 3.5 million ounces in 1994, according to New York’s CPM Group. Total demand for platinum, primarily for jewelry and industrial uses, reached approximately 4.93 million ounces in 1995, up from 4.68 million ounces in the prior year. In July, the Defense Logistics Agency announced a plan to help balance the budget by stepping up sales of platinum and other metals that had not previously been sold. However, in late November both the House and Senate conferees significantly downsized plans for the long-range sale of platinum. Partly in response to South African concerns that the sales would unduly disrupt the market, the U.S. government reduced the amount of platinum to be sold over seven years to from 25,000 to 10,000 ounces.
PRICES: The average price on the New York Mercantile Exchange was $427.17 an ounce in 1995, with a high of $467.10 and a low of $401.20. In 1994, the average price was $406.89.
AMM Reporter
Year discovered: 1803
Atomic No.: 46
Symbol: Pd
Atomic weight: 106.4
Melting point: 1,554º C
1995 price range: $135.95-$178.15/troy oz. (New York Mercantile Exchange.)
Palladium shares platinum’s strength, high ductility and silvery appearance, but is more abundant and less expensive. Palladium was identified in 1803 by William H. Wollaston, who separated it from platinum residues. It has the lowest melting point of any platinum group metal: 1,552 degrees Celsius.
REVIEW: World mine production of palladium was estimated at 2.04 million ounces in 1995, compared with 1.96 million ounces in 1994. Demand for palladium, used primarily in electronic, automotive and dental applications, reached approximately 5.7 million ounces in 1995, up from 5.2 million ounces in 1994. Group Offtake for electronics took the lion’s share of demand in 1995, totaling approximately 2.8 million ounces, compared with 2.51 million ounces in 1994, CPM said.
PRICES: Prices in 1995 on Nymex averaged $156.12 an ounce, with a high of $178.15 and a low of $135.95 an ounce.
AMM Reporter
Year discovered: 1803
Atomic No.: 45
Symbol: Rh
Atomic weight: 102.9055
Melting point: 1,966º C ± 3
1995 price range: $295.00-$590.00/troy oz.
REVIEW: Rhodium is a silver-white metal often found in conjunction with nickel. It was discovered by Wollaston early in the 19th century when he separated palladium from platinum. Rhodium is highly reflective and is alloyed with platinum and palladium for use in furnace windings, thermocouple elements for temperature measurement, and aircraft spark-plug electrodes. The total 1995 world supply of rhodium was estimated at 464,000 ounces, compared with 444,700 ounces in 1994. Demand for the metal, which comes mainly from the automotive and electronic markets, was estimated at 461,000 ounces, up from 449,432 ounces in 1994, according to CPM Group figures.
PRICES: The average New York dealer price for rhodium was $454 an ounce in 1995, significantly lower than the $713 an ounce it averaged in 1994. Prices in 1995 hit a high of $590 an ounce and a low of $295 an ounce.
AMM Reporter




Year discovered: 1804
Atomic No.: 77
Symbol: Ir
Atomic weight: 192.2
Melting point: 2,410º C
1995 price: $60.00/troy oz. (Johnson Matthey.)
REVIEW: Iridium is the most corrosion-resistant metal known and is also highly resistant to temperature. Discovered in the early 19th century by Smithson Tennant, this brittle, silver-white metal is most often found in close association with platinum or osmium. It is often alloyed with platinum to improve the latter’s performance. In 1995, the metal was used primarily in the electrochemical industry and in electrolytic cells for the production of sodium chlorate.
PRICES: Johnson Matthey’s quoted price for iridium was steady last year at approximately $60 an ounce.
AMM Reporter
Year discovered: 1845
Atomic No.: 44
Symbol: Ru
Atomic weight: 101.07
Melting point: 2,310º C
1995 price range: $27.00-$29.00/troy oz.
REVIEW: Ruthenium is a hard white metal. The final member of the platinum group to be discovered, it was isolated commercially by first converting the metal to powder, then consolidating it via powder metallurgy techniques or argon-arc welding. Ruthenium is used to strengthen platinum and palladium in jewelry. Other applications include magneto contacts for the aircraft and other industries. In 1995, research continued into the use of ruthenium in catalysts for methane gas and in the manufacture of ammonia. The chloralkali industry employs ruthenium in chlorine production. Ruthenium is also alloyed with titanium to raise the latter’s resistance to corrosion in commercial applications such as offshore oil rigs. Though the metal’s price was higher than in recent years, it changed little throughout the course of 1995.
PRICES: Prices began the year at $27 an ounce and stayed steady until a brief buying stint brought them up to $29 an ounce by year-end.
AMM Reporter
Year discovered: 1804
Atomic No.: 76
Symbol: Os
Atomic weight: 190.2
Melting point: 3,045º C ± 30
1995 price: $400.00/troy oz.
REVIEW: Osmium is the hardest, rarest metal of the platinum group and has the highest melting point. Also discovered by Tennant, it is bluish-white in appearance. It melts at 3,045 degrees Celsius and is a difficult metal to fabricate. Though present in platinum group production, osmium is rarely recovered. Small quantities are used each year as a biological staining agent and as a catalyst for drug synthesis.
PRICES: Osmium sold for approximately $400 an ounce in 1995.
AMM Reporter
Rare earths—such as neodymium (Nd), yttrium (Y) and cerium (Ce)—are generally soft and malleable, and usually reactive, especially at high temperatures or when finely divided. Ranging in color from iron gray to silverish, they have melting points in a range of 798 degrees to 1,663 degrees Celsius. Discovered in 1787 in Sweden, these metallic elements of atomic numbers 57 through 71 inclusive are widely used in many applications around the world today, including permanent magnets, petroleum refining catalysts, glass additives and polishing compounds, structural ceramics, automotive catalytic converters, phosphors for lighting, television, oxygen sensors and cathode ray tubes, and as additives in iron and steel. In addition to the three elements mentioned above, the list of rare earths, also known as lanthanides, includes lanthanum, samarium, dysprosium, terbium, lutetium, thulium, scandium, erbium, holmium, ytterbium, gadolinium, promethium, europium, and praseodymium.
SOURCE: Rare earth metals are mined in various ways from various materials. For example, in the United States, neodymium is mined solely from the fluorocarbonate mineral, bastnasite. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. mine production of neodymium occurs only at Molycorp Inc.’s Mountain Pass, Calif., operation. Applications for neodymium have been growing substantially over the years, particularly in high-strength permanent magnets. Neodymium, atomic number 60, atomic weight, 144.24, has a melting point of 1,010 degrees Celsius, and a boiling point of 3,217 degrees Celsius. China was the world’s leading producer of rare earths in 1994 and 1995, with 1994 production of rare earth oxides totaling 30,650 metric tons. The United States was second, with 1994 production in the neighborhood of 20,700 tons, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Trailing these two countries at a substantial distance were the republics of the former Soviet Union, Australia, India, the Republic of South Africa, Brazil and a number of smaller countries. Despite the fact that the United States is one of the largest sources of rare earths, there are only two U.S. rare earth producers: Molycorp, which is a subsidiary of Unocal Corp., and RGC (USA) Minerals Inc., which recovers monazite for its rare earth content in Green Cove Springs, Fla. RCG (USA) is a subsidiary of Australia’s Renison Goldfields Consolidated Ltd. In addition to these two companies, a number of refiners of rare earth compounds operate in the United States, including companies that process scandium, mischmetal, and lanthanides. One of the fastest-growing markets for rare earth metals and alloys is the magnet market, and one of the biggest companies in that business, Magnequench International, was formed as a spinoff from General Motors Corp.’s Delco Remy division. The majority ownership in Magnequench was purchased by two Chinese state-owned companies in 1995. Magnequench produces neodymium-iron-boron magnet alloys and the magnets themselves.
REVIEW: Overall domestic apparent consumption of rare earths increased slightly in 1994-1995, and the demand for certain materials such as neodymium, refined lanthanides and scandium metal was particularly healthy because of the strength of the permanent magnet, fluid cracking catalyst and automotive catalytic converter markets, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
PRICES: Domestic prices for high-purity (99.9-percent) neodymium metal remained stable in 1995 at $340 per kilogram. Magnet-grade (99-percent purity) neodymium metal in metric ton quantities increased during 1995 to $32 per kilogram from $29 per kilogram at the end of 1994 due to the rising demand for rare earth magnets. The price for neodymium oxide of 96-percent purity at the end of 1995 was $23.15 per kilogram. In contrast, 99.9-percent-purity forms of other rare earth oxides ranged in price from $23 per kilogram (in 25-kilogram quantities) for lanthanum to $5,500 per kilogram (in 2-kilogram quantities) for lutetium.
Manufacturing Materials Editor

  • Year discovered: 1801
  • Atomic No.: 41

  • Symbol: Nb
  • Atomic weight: 92.9064

  • Melting point: 2,468º C ± 10 1995 price range: $30.00-$50.00/lb. (Published price for columbium metal through mid-October.)
    Year discovered: 1802
    Atomic No.: 73
    Symbol: Ta
    Atomic weight: 180.9479
    Melting point: 2,996º C
    1995 price range: $25.50-$27.80/lb. (Published spot price for tantalite ore through mid-October.)
    Tantalum occurs chiefly in columbite-tantalite, while columbium is found in columbite, pyrochlore, euxenite and columbite-tantalite. Columbium and tantalum have distinct industrial uses due to their chemical properties. Tantalum is a refractory metal that is ductile, easily fabricated, has a high melting point of 2,996 degrees Celsius, is highly resistant to corrosion by acids and is a good conductor of heat and electricity. Columbium, also called niobium, has been valued as a steelmaking alloy since the 1930s, finding use today in high-strength, low-alloy steels and in metals for the aerospace industry. A principal application of tantalum is as a barrier to corrosion in chemical processing equipment and it also finds use in cutting tools. Even more vital is its suitability in capacitors and filaments for electronics.
    SOURCE: The last significant mining of columbium and tantalum in the United States occurred during the Korean conflict. In 1995, the United States continued to be dependent on imports of columbium and tantalum materials. Brazil continued as the major source for columbium and Australia as the major source for tantalum imports. Although there was no domestic mineral production of either columbium or tantalum in 1995, two companies processed columbium- and tantalum-bearing source materials that were integrated from raw material processing to columbium and tantalum end products. According to estimates, imports of ferrocolumbium for consumption rose 13.6 percent from 1994 to 3 million kilograms.
    REVIEW: In the first six months of 1995, overall reported consumption of columbium in the United States increased by about 10 percent compared with 1994. Consumption of columbium by the steelmaking sector rose by about 6 percent, influenced by a 7-percent increase in raw steel production. Reported consumption of ferrocolumbium rose 2.8 percent to an estimated 2.83 million kilograms in 1995 from 2.75 million kilograms in 1994. Overall consumption of tantalum continued to grow, from 430,000 kilograms in 1994 to 470,000 kilograms in 1995, an 8.5-percent increase. U.S. sales of tantalum capacitors during the first half of 1995 increased by more than 40 percent compared with the first half of 1994. Industry sources indicated that recycled and secondary materials were getting more attention as a source of tantalum supply. Recycled and secondary tantalum-bearing materials reportedly accounted for an estimated 25 percent of total Western World tantalum supply. Recycling of columbium was statistically insignificant. The estimated value of tantalum consumed in the United States in 1995 was $160 million. The estimated value of columbium consumption in 1995, in the form of ferrocolumbium and nickel columbium, was about $56 million. Columbium is vital as an alloying element in steels and in superalloys for aircraft turbine engines. Columbium is critical to the United States because of its defense-related uses in the aerospace, energy and transportation industries. Its use as an additive in steelmaking accounts for more than 80 percent of U.S. reported consumption. Substitutes for columbium include vanadium and molybdenum in high-strength, low-alloy steel, tantalum and titanium in stainless steel and superalloys. Tantalum is also critical to the United States because of its defense-related application in aircraft, missiles and radio communications. One of the principal applications of tantalum is as a barrier to corrosion of chemical processing equipment, and it is also employed in carbide cutting tools. Even more important is tantalum’s suitability in capacitors and filaments needed for electronics. More than 60 percent of the tantalum consumed in the U.S. has been used to produce electronic components. Substitutes for tantalum include columbium in superalloys and carbides, aluminum and ceramics in capacitors, glass, titanium, zirconium, columbium and platinum in corrosion- resistant equipment, and tungsten, rhenium, molybdenum, iridium, hafnium and columbium in high- temperature applications.
    Overall reported consumption of columbium as ferrocolumbium and nickel columbium rose by more than 10 percent to 2.75 million kilograms in 1994 from 2.47 million kilograms in 1993, the latest year for which statistics were available. Consumption of columbium by the steelmaking industry increased by about 8 percent in 1994, affected by a 3 percent increase in raw steel production and a 5 percent increase in the percentage of columbium use per ton of steel produced. Columbium consumption in carbon and stainless and heat-resisting steels were both up by more than 10 percent in 1994 over 1993. Its consumption in high- strength, low-alloy steel was up modestly in the year, but demand for it in superalloys rose to more than 40,000 kilograms, the highest level since 1991. That portion used in nickel columbium rose to more than 260,000 kilograms.
    Overall consumption of tantalum in 1994 rose to about 430,000 kilograms, the highest level since 1984, aided primarily by increased use of capacitor-grade tantalum powder in the electronics sector. The apparent consumption of columbium in the United States in 1994 was 3.7 million kilograms, up from 3.5 million kilograms consumed in 1993. The apparent consumption of tantalum in the U.S. in 1994 was 430,000 kilograms, up over 410,000 kilograms consumed in 1993, according to the U.S. Bureau of Mines. President Clinton signed legislation in December 1994 adopting the Uruguay Round accords of the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade, which included renewal of the General System of Preferences program through July 31, 1995. Under GSP, the U.S. grants duty-free access to goods from more than 140 developing countries and territories. In 1995, U.S. tariffs on imports of columbium and tantalum products ranged from zero to 5.3 percent ad valorem for countries with most-favored nation status, and from zero to 45 percent ad valorem for non-MFN status countries.
    PRICES: In mid-October 1995, the published price for columbite ore ranged from $2.80 to $3.20 per pound of contained columbium and tantalum pentoxides. The published price for steelmaking-grade ferrocolumbium was quoted at $6.58 per pound of contained columbium. Prices for high-purity ferrocolumbium and nickel columbium were $18.50 and $20.50 per pound of contained columbium, respectively. The published price for columbium oxide was $8.17 per pound of oxide and columbium metal ranged from $30 to $50 per pound. The published price for tantalite ore, which began 1995 in the range of $25.50 to $27 per pound of contained pentoxide, rose to $26.50 to $27.80 in early July, where it remained through mid-October. Industry sources indicated that tantalum mill products sold at an average of about $170 per pound and that tantalum capacitor-grade powder sold for about $150 per pound.
    AMM Reporter
    Scrap metal is the metal left from the manufacturing processes or obtained from the disposal of products that have reached the end of their lifecycles. Ferrous scrap includes the various carbon steels and iron, as well as stainless steel and steel alloys like the high-speed tool steels. When scrap is collected, it is sorted and either sheared, baled or shredded by processors. It then becomes a raw material for steel mills and foundries.
    SOURCE: Ferrous scrap accounts for more than half of the raw materials used to produce steel products and iron castings in the United States. Steel and iron scrap fall within one of three categories that are defined by how they are generated. Home or revert scrap is produced within a steel mill or foundry, and can include such materials as the trimmings from the end of plate or sheet steel, ingot butts and pit scrap. Prompt industrial scrap is the clean metallic by-product generated by metalworking manufacturers as they produce such finished durable goods as home appliances and automobiles. Obsolete scrap is often the broadest category of ferrous scrap and can range from post-consumer steel food cans to much bigger and heavier forms, such as I-beams and random-length rails.
    REVIEW: Domestic demand for ferrous scrap started 1995 on a strong footing, wavered a little in the next two months of the first quarter, then rebounded in April. It was a pattern that was repeated throughout the year — one giant leap in the tonnage purchased and the prices paid for it, followed by two months of modest corrections. Much of the strength stemmed from the domestic steel industry’s steady operating pace throughout the year. The industry’s utilization rate, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute, ran at a 90-percent-plus clip for all but two months of 1995. As a result, the industry had plenty of need for ferrous scrap as well as for offshore-supplied scrap substitutes like pig iron and direct-reduced iron. Further increasing the pressure on domestic ferrous scrap supplies were the openings of two new electric furnace- based steel mills, Gallatin Steel Corp. in northern Kentucky and Beta Steel Corp. in northern Indiana, along with two reconstituted mills, Armco-Mansfield and Caparo Steel Co. (the latter in the former Sharon Steel facilities in western Pennsylvania.) Scrap demand was strong from overseas buyers as well. The offshore market posted its strongest year since 1990, when ferrous exports topped 12 million net tons. Tonnage shipped to foreign steelmakers and foundries rose to 11,494,955 tons, up 18 percent from the prior year. The major categories, such as shredded automotive scrap and No. 1 heavy melting steel, registered the largest gains in volume. Shredded exports were up by close to 700,000 tons and heavy melt shipments were close behind with an increase of almost 600,000 tons from the previous year’s totals. South Korea was again the leading overseas market, accounting for 31.3 percent of consumption in 1995, while Canada and Turkey were the next two largest importing nations.
    PRICES: Ferrous prices reflected the strong demand for ferrous scrap throughout 1995 and remained close to historic highs. Ford Motor Co. factory bundle prices, an indicator for many who buy and sell prompt industrial steel scrap, ranged from a low of $151.61 in July to a high of $167.85 the following month. Much like the demand pattern, the factory bundles rose by $10 in one instance and by more than $16 a ton in the midsummer months only to be followed by two or three months in retreat. Obsolete scrap prices also remained in the upper register throughout much of 1995. AMM’s No. 1 heavy melting steel composite price traded in a narrow $10 band through the 12-month period, ranging from a low of $133.17 to $143.12 per gross ton.
    AMM Secondary Materials Editor
    Scrap metal is the metal left from the manufacturing processes or obtained from the disposal of products that have reached the end of their lifecycles. Copper and aluminum are the most widely traded forms of nonferrous scrap, though there is also substantial demand for recovered nickel, lead, zinc and precious metal scrap. Processing of nonferrous scrap metals ranges from simple sorting operations for some types of scraps, to baling and shredding for others. Buyers of these metals include secondary refiners and smelters who melt the scrap and recast it into alloy forms that serve as intermediate products for other fabricators and manufacturers. In addition, some brass and aluminum mills use scrap directly in the production of finished products.
    SOURCE: Nonferrous scrap falls within one of three categories defined by how it is generated. Home or revert scrap is produced within a mill, a smelter or a foundry, and can include such materials as the trimmings from the end of aluminum sheet products. Prompt industrial scrap is the clean metallic by- products like brass rod ends and copper-nickel turnings that are generated by manufacturers as they produce finished durable goods like home appliances and automobiles. Obsolete scrap is the metal drawn from products that have reached the end of their usefulness. This is often the broadest category of nonferrous scrap, ranging from aluminum used beverage cans and defunct lead-acid auto batteries to the tiny gold connectors on printed circuit boards.
    REVIEW: Demand from domestic consumers of copper and brass scrap was strong through much of 1995. Brass mills and other consumers were busy. Order books were full and the demand for copper and brass scrap remained steady throughout the year. The past year was a blockbuster for exports of copper scrap, though exports of red metal were in a decline at the end of 1995. Neverthless, the year-end total of 604,402 tons was up by some 53 percent from 1994. Demand for aluminum scrap appeared to weaken as the year progressed. Automotive and related businesses didn't perform in line with pre-1995 projections. The secondary aluminum smelter industry, already burdened with overcapacity, found margins reduced, particularly in the latter half of the year. Before 1995 ended, one victim had fallen, Alreco Metals Inc., Benton Harbor, Mich. The bankrupt Alreco closed its doors and sold off equipment. Lead-acid batteries and other types of scrap lead found homes easily, and most secondary lead smelters ran near capacity. There were 15 such plants in the United States in 1995, the same as the prior year. In September, Exide Corp. completed its purchase of Schuylkill Metals Co., which produced around 100,000 tons of ingot at Baton Rouge, La., and Mound City, Mo. That brought the number of Exide smelters to four (competitors RSR Corp. and GNB Technologies each had three). Exide thus obtained more raw material supply for its manufacturing plants, which account for 20 million new batteries annually.
    PRICES: Prices for copper scrap began 1995 on a high note but slipped in the spring to a nadir in May before rebounding to the highest 1995 level in June. At year's end, following a period of slack demand, prices were off eight cents per pound from the start of the year. Though final 1995 figures were not available, copper scrap exports through November were up by 60 percent from 1994.
    —AMM Secondary Materials Staff
    Year discovered: 1817
    Atomic No.: 34
    Symbol: Se
    Atomic weight: 78.96
    Melting point: 217º C
    1995 price average: $4.90/lb. (Dealer price for refined selenium.)
    Selenium is primarily recovered from anode slimes in the electrolytic refining of copper. Named after Selene, the Greek goddess of the moon, by Swedish chemist J.J. Berzelius in 1817, selenium was discovered in the red residue found in sulfuric acid prepared at a pyrite mining operation at Fahlun, Sweden.
    SOURCE: Three U.S. copper refineries account for the domestic output of primary selenium. Other production is in Belgium, Japan and Canada. Domestic consumption increased slightly to 540 tons in 1995, from 530 tons in 1994. The estimated consumption of selenium was 35 percent in electronics, 30 percent in glass manufacturing, 20 percent in chemicals and pigments, and 15 percent in agriculture and metallurgy.
    REVIEW: In electronics, high-purity selenium is used primarily as a photoreceptor on the drums of plain- paper copiers. In glass manufacturing, selenium is used as a decolorant in container and other soda-lime silica glass, and to reduce solar heat transmission in architectural plate glass. Chemical uses include rubber compounding chemicals, gun bluing, catalysts and anti-dandruff shampoos. Selenium is used as a dietary supplement for both humans and livestock. The metal is added to copper, lead, and steel alloys to improve machinability. In 1995 brass and bronze ingotmakers continued to use selenium in the development of very low-lead alloys for plumbing applications, which up to now have contained up to seven percent lead. Seven makers of plumbing fixtures, comprising about half of the market, agreed in a lawsuit settlement with the state of California to supply virtually lead-free fixtures, and new federal regulations to reduce lead content take effect in July of 1996.
    PRICE: The average dealer price for refined selenium, sold in 100-pound lots, remained steady at $4.90 a pound in 1995.
    AMM Reporter
    Year discovered: circa 3000 B.C.
    Atomic No.: 47
    Symbol: Ag
    Atomic weight: 107.8682
    Melting point: 961.93º C
    1995 price range: $4.41-$6.16/troy oz.
    Silver is a rare, lustrous white metal that has captured people’s imagination for centuries. The metal is malleable and ductile, and has a low level of electrical resistance. Silver was first used for coinage, then for decorative purposes, jewelry and tableware. In the Roman Empire, the metal was adopted as the basis for the monetary system, with gold and bronze used for secondary coins. At present, its major uses are in photography, electrical and electronic products, tableware, jewelry, medicine and dentistry. Aluminum and rhodium can substitute for silver in mirrors and other reflecting surfaces. Tantalum can also be used in place of silver in surgical plates, pins and sutures. Stainless steel is an alternate material widely used in the manufacture of table flatware.
    SOURCE: Most of the silver produced in the United States in 1995 came from primary output or as a by- product of lead, copper and zinc production in Nevada, Arizona, Idaho and Montana, in that order. The major international producers of silver were Mexico, Canada, Peru and Chile, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
    REVIEW: In 1995, silver use totaled 688.5 million troy ounces, up 3.5 percent from the prior year, while total estimated supplies rose 10.1 percent from the prior year to 526.9 million ounces, according to New York’s CPM Group. Mine production rose in most major producing countries. The largest increase was in Canada, where by-product silver output rose sharply after four years of declines. Canadian output alone resulted in 15.6 million ounces of additional supply, according to CPM Group. Primary silver mining was on the rise in 1995, and was expected to continue with the start-up of some U.S. mines that had been on standby. In 1995 silver use was mixed. In India, one of the world’s largest silver consumers, use declined, primarily in the jewelry and silverware markets. Demand was strong in many other Asian markets, however, including South Korea and Taiwan.
    PRICES: As silver prices have recovered over the past two years, price volatility has rebounded. The increased activity has come in intense spurts that have been followed by periods of reduced volatility. Silver prices in the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange began the year at approximately $4.76 an ounce and fell to $4.41 an ounce in early March. By that point, investor buying had begun building. As it unfolded, the active July silver on Comex rose to a six-year high of $6.16 an ounce in early May. That also proved to be the high for the year, and prices spent most of the rest of 1995 between $5.20 and $5.60 an ounce. Prices dropped to $5.21 an ounce at year-end.
    AMM Reporter
    Steel is made primarily of iron and carbon with thousands of varieties possible by varying the content of iron, carbon and alloying elements. The carbon content in common varieties ranges from 0.25 percent to 2 percent, while harder grades have a higher carbon content. Alloy steels contain certain alloying elements such as chromium, nickel, manganese, silicon, vanadium and molybdenum, which make them more resistant to wear, corrosion and heat than carbon steels. Stainless steel is the most popular of the alloy steels. The most common of the stainless steels contain 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel.
    SOURCE: According to preliminary data available from the American Iron and Steel Institute, Washington, shipments of steel mill products by U.S. mills during 1995 were up 1.9 percent from 1994 and at their highest level since 1979. Steel mill shipments in 1995 totaled 96,858,735 net tons. The 1995 increase in domestic steel shipments marks the fourth consecutive year of growth: shipments rose 8.2 percent from 1992 to 1993, 4.3 percent from 1991 to 1992 and 6.8 percent from 1993 to 1994. A year-to- year comparison of shipments shows the following changes within major market classifications: service centers and distributors, down 3.2 percent; automotive, down 5.4 percent; construction and contractors’ products, up 1.2 percent; oil and gas, up 62.8 percent; machinery, industrial equipment and tools, down 5.6 percent; appliances, utensils and cutlery, down 9.1 percent; containers, packaging and shipping materials, down 10.1 percent; and electrical equipment, up 3.4 percent. The nation’s three largest steelmakers, U.S. Steel Group, Pittsburgh; Bethlehem Steel Corp., Bethlehem, Pa.; and LTV Corp., Cleveland, accounted for 31,048,000 tons of the raw steel produced in the United States in 1995. U.S. Steel also retained its position as the nation’s largest producer of steel.
    REVIEW: Relatively unfettered by major new trade cases, the steel business in 1995 primarily affected by open-market economics, including shipments by newly privatized producers in South America and Europe. Ironically, the vagaries of economics (and prior-year import duties) kept imports at bay for much of the year and encouraged the export of U.S. products. The positive trade situation could not have come at a better time. Within domestic trading circles, hot-rolled steel suffered serious price declines in spot markets throughout the year as service centers struggled to sell off higher-priced inventory purchased when demand seemed to be soaring. The result was hot-rolled bands being purchased for as low as $310 a ton from established mills. Other products were relatively stable, with beams showing strength and price increases. The much-talked-about increase in U.S. flat-rolled steel capacity started to become a reality in 1995 with the start-up of Gallatin Steel Co., Ghent, Ky. The joint venture, owned by Canadian steelmakers Dofasco Inc. and Co-Steel Inc., was selling hot-rolled steel for as low as $280 a ton as it entered the market. Caparo Steel Co., Farrell, Pa., also entered the market in early 1995 with the restart of assets that had been the bankrupt Sharon Steel Corp. And by December 1995, Steel Dynamics Inc., Indianapolis, Ind., was rolling its first test coils from a newly constructed steel plant and rolling mill in Butler, Ind. A great deal of construction was under way in 1995, such as a furnace and caster project at Dofasco Inc., Hamilton, Ontario; a plate mill at Ipsco Inc.’s Montpelier, Iowa, site; a mini-mill being built by North Star/BHP Steel in Delta, Ohio; a mini-mill by joint-venture company Trico Steel Co. in Decatur, Ala; a mini-mill by Nucor Corp. in Charleston, S.C.; and a tin mill by joint venture Ohio Coatings Inc. in Yorkville, Ohio. Plans also were announced during the year for new galvanizing plants to be built by Worthington Industries Inc., Columbus, Ohio; Metaltech, Pittsburgh; National Steel Corp., Mishawaka, Ind.; and U.S. Steel Group, Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, there were several major events related to labor relations in 1995. The United Steelworkers union announced that it will merge by the end of the century with the United Auto Workers and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. The Steelworkers had a chance to flex its muscles in late summer when it began a 54-day strike against WCI Steel Inc., Warren, Ohio, that ended in late October. During the dispute, WCI’s chief executive resigned and the workers ended up with higher wages and improved pensions. At Middletown, Ohio,-based AK Steel Corp., the USW was not so fortunate. Workers there turned away another organizing bid by the union when they voted June 9 to reject a proposal that likely would have led to an affiliation between the USW and AK Steel’s independent union. AK Steel had other ups and downs. It was consistently the most profitable U.S. steel producer, but suffered several plant accidents during the year that prompted a close look by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It was, overall, a bad year for McLouth Steel Products Corp., Trenton, Mich. The company sought protection from its creditors in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
    In stainless steel, Armco Inc., Pittsburgh, continued its pattern of selling off certain businesses in order to focus on its specialty flat-rolled steel segments, unloading its National-Oilwell joint venture with U.S. Steel Corp. Armco struggled throughout 1995 thanks to major operating losses at its Mansfield, Ohio, and Butler, Pa., plants. Mansfield, which was idle in 1994, incurred $32.7 million in operating losses in the third quarter of 1995 and another $21.4 million in operating losses in the fourth quarter. J&L Specialty Steel Inc., Pittsburgh, continued making progress on a five-year capital program to increase the capacity of its stainless steel production facilities. The largest of those is the $125-million Direct Roll Anneal and Pickle (DRAP) line at Midland, Pa. The company also is upgrading and increasing capacity at its bright anneal product line in Louisville, Ohio, and expects total capital expenditures in 1996 of about $100 million. Allegheny Ludlum’s 1995 results improved dramatically from 1994 when results were hampered by a 10-week strike. The company’s operating income increased to $178,933,000 in 1995, a gain of 332.5 percent from 1994’s strike-plagued year. Lukens Inc., Coatesville, Pa., had a strong year as well despite operational problems with the start-up of its new Steckel Mill Advanced Rolling Technology (SMART) system in Conshohocken, Pa. Lukens also completed the commissioning of the stainless refining system at its Coatesville, Pa., melt shop and was continuing to get improved productivity at its Houston, Pa., plant following an expansion project completed during the fourth quarter. Republic Engineered Steels Inc., Massillon, Ohio, completed and began operations at its new Cast-Roll facility, a $165-million investment that links together five steelmaking operations that previously had been run separately. Carpenter Technology Corp., Reading, Pa., continued its pattern of growth by acquisition by buying Petaluma, Calif.- based Parmatech, a metal injection molding company, and Green Bay Supply Co. Inc., Hatfield, Pa., a privately held master distributor of specialty metal products. The company announced early in 1996 that it would double its planned capital expenditures, to about $100 million, over the next three years. The major portion of the planned improvements involves the construction of a $68-million narrow strip finishing facility in Reading.
    In the mini-mill segment, the emphasis continued to be on construction. Mostly, companies were building flat-rolled steel plants using thin-slab casters to cut operating costs. Nucor was building near Charleston, S.C.; BHP-North Star was under construction in Delta, Ohio; Steel Dynamics brought a mill on line in Butler, Ind.; Trico began construction in Decatur, Ala.; and Gallatin Steel began producing in Ghent, Ky. In long products, North Star was building a rod mill in Arizona. Qualitech, a Cleveland-based start-up, was in the process of financing a new bar mill in Indiana. And Birmingham Steel Corp. was planning construction of a melt shop in Memphis to feed a new bar mill it is building in the Cleveland area.
    PRICES: While demand was generally strong in 1995, spot-market pricing did not keep pace, mostly because of over-stocking at service centers. Carbon sheet prices fell throughout the year as producers fought for skimpy market share from entrenched service centers that preferred to sell their glut of higher- priced stock. Prices on hot-rolled sheet started the year at about $370 a ton but sank to $310 a ton before a $10-a-ton rise was introduced in December. Most products fared the same. Tinplate, for instance, failed to attract higher prices at year-end despite an announced 4-percent price increase. Structural steel was the only carbon product area that was able to attract higher prices throughout 1995. A short supply and brisk demand maintained a seller’s market for most beams.
    AMM Steel Editor
    Year discovered: 1782
    Atomic No.: 52
    Symbol: Te
    Atomic weight: 127.60
    Melting point: 449.5º C ± 0.3
    1995 price average: $27.00/lb.
    Tellurium is much like selenium in that it is recovered from anode slimes in the electrolytic refining of copper. It was discovered by Muller von Reichenstein in 1782 and named by Klapworth, who isolated it in 1798.
    REVIEW: Only one U.S. copper producer refines and sells tellurium; the rest comes primarily from Japan, Peru and Canada. Despite an increase in domestic and world tellurium demand coupled with moderate increases in production, tellurium oversupply continued in 1995. U.S. imports rose to about 40 metric tons in 1995 from about 27 metric tons the previous year. In 1995, the estimated consumption for tellurium was 50 percent for iron and steel products; 25 percent for catalysts and chemicals; 10 percent for additives to nonferrous alloys; 10 percent for photoreceptors and thermoelectric devices; and 5 percent for other uses.



    PRICES: The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the average price of tellurium to be $27 per pound in 1995, up slightly from $26 per pound last year.

    AMM Reporter
    Year discovered: Circa 3500 B.C.
    Atomic No.: 50
    Symbol: Sn
    Atomic weight: 118.69
    Melting point: 231.9681º C
    1995 price average: $2.90/lb. (New York market prices.)
    Tin is a nontoxic metal with a history that can be traced to 3500 B.C. through objects found at the mouth of the Euphrates River. Since then, tin has found its major application as a coating for other metals, such as steel, to prevent corrosion. Tin is also used in solder production; to make bronze, pewter and die-casting alloys; in biocides to control insect infestation; and as an alloy with titanium for aerospace applications.
    SOURCE: China continues to be the world’s largest tin producer, followed by Indonesia, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Portugal. Proven reserves total about 7 million metric tons, with a reserve base of 10 million tons. U.S. resources, found mainly in Alaska, comprise only a negligible fraction of worldwide supply. The largest U.S. import sources in 1991 through 1994 were Brazil (28 percent), Indonesia (17 percent) and China (15 percent).
    REVIEW: In 1995 primary U.S. tin consumption declined to an estimated 5,000 tons from 5,620 tons the year before. Apparent consumption rose 8.5 percent to an estimated 47,000 tons from 43,300 tons, according to the Office of Minerals Information of the U.S. Geological Survey. World production, excluding U.S. production, declined 2.2 percent to an estimated 180,000 tons from 184,000 tons in 1994. China produced an estimated 50,000 tons, followed by Malaysia at 34,000 tons, Brazil at 25,000 tons and Bolivia at 18,000 tons. In 1995, Brazil became a member of the Association of Tin Producing Countries (ATPC), following China’s admission the year before. As a result of an $80-million joint venture, the first domestic tinplating plant to be built since the early 1960s is nearing completion in Ohio. In 1994, the domestic steel can recycling rate rose to 53 percent compared with 48 percent the year before and only 15 percent in 1988.
    PRICES: At the beginning of the year, the second-session cash bid for tin on the London Metal Exchange was the equivalent of $2.75 a pound. By the end of 1995, the cash bid price was $2.85 a pound. The average New York market price last year was $2.90 a pound compared with $2.55 a pound the year before, according to the Office of Minerals Information.
    AMM West Coast Editor
    Year discovered: 1791
    Atomic No.: 22
    Symbol: Ti
    Atomic weight: 47.88
    Melting point: 1,660º C ± 10
    1995 price average: $4.00/lb.
    Titanium is a brilliant white metal in its pure form and is the ninth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. Obtained from rutile, ilmenite and sphens, as well as vitanites and many iron ores, titanium is lighter than steel but just as strong. For this reason, titanium is used widely in the aerospace industry. It can be alloyed with aluminum, vanadium, molybdenum, iron and manganese. It is also used in equipment by the chemical, paper and pulp, and oil and gas industries.
    SOURCE: Titanium sponge metal was produced in the United States in 1995 by two companies in Nevada and in Oregon, while titanium ingot was produced by those two plus nine additional companies, one of which discontinued sponge output in 1992. In 1995, approximately 65 percent of titanium metal was used in aerospace applications, including jet engines, airframes and missile components. The remainder was used by the chemical processing industry, medical equipment manufacturers and other nonaerospace industries including, for the first time, a significant application by manufacturers of golf club heads. U.S. sponge consumption rose 25 percent to 21,500 tons compared with 17,200 tons in 1994, according to the Office of Minerals Information of the U.S. Geological Survey. Imports of sponge for consumption rose 38.8 percent last year to an estimated 8,980 tons vs. 6,470 tons in 1994. Domestic sponge production isn’t reported because, with only two major producers, that information is considered highly proprietary. Industry stocks of sponge at year-end 1995 were up slightly to 5,600 tons from 5,570 tons at the end of 1994. Leading import sources for sponge for the years 1991-1994 were Russia (67 percent), Japan (18 percent), China (6 percent), the United Kingdom (3 percent), Ukraine (3 percent), the remainder of the former Soviet Union (2 percent) and others (1 percent). Last year, the titanium industry recycled about 20,000 tons of new scrap.
    REVIEW: Last year was the best year since 1991 for the U.S. domestic industry, with mill product shipments rising 26.9 percent to 19,800 tons from 15,600 tons in 1994, paced by higher demand in commercial aerospace and recreation, specifically golf clubs. Consumption of scrap rose 31.2 percent to 20,600 tons against 15,700 tons in 1994. Forging and extrusion billet shipments were up 49.2 percent to 8,820 tons for the first 11 months of 1995 compared with 5,910 tons in 1994, while rod and bar shipments increased 33.8 percent in 1995 to 2,770 tons vs. 2,070 tons the year before. Sponge imports through the first 11 months of 1995 were 7,070 tons, up 9.3 percent from 6,470 tons in all of 1994, with Russia by far the largest source at 5,320 tons. Scrap imports were up 63.4 percent to 9,590 tons in the first 11 months of 1995 from 5,870 tons in all of 1994.
    PRICES: The value of sponge metal consumed last year in this country was about $180 million, assuming an average selling price of $4 per pound. Domestic sponge prices, which in many cases were less than $4 a pound as recently as 1994, had moved up to $4.25 to $4.50 per pound late in 1995.
    West Coast Editor
    Year discovered: 1783
    Atomic No.: 74
    Symbol: W
    Atomic weight: 183.85
    Melting point: 3,410º C ± 20
    1995 price average: $60.00/metric ton unit (U.S. spot market price for concentrate.)
    Tungsten, also called wolfram, is a hard, heavy gray-white metallic element found in wolframite and scheelite ores. It is primarily used as a carbide to harden metal-cutting tools and as an alloying agent in steelmaking. It is also used in electric contact points and lamp filaments. In pure form, tungsten can be forged, spun, drawn and extruded. The word tungsten is rooted in the Norse word “thungr-steinn,” which means heavy stone. With an atomic weight of 183.85, tungsten has low density, good thermal and electrical conductivity and high-temperature strength.
    SOURCE: More than 90 percent of the world’s estimated tungsten reserves of 2.2 million metric tons lie outside the United States, with China laying claim to approximately 41 percent. Other countries with significant resource potential include Australia, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, Canada, North and South Korea, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Thailand and Turkey. Through October 1995, U.S. net production of tungsten products, including metal powder, tungsten carbide powder and chemicals, totaled 6,590 tons, down from 7,410 tons the previous year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
    REVIEW: Based on net production of tungsten products, the U.S. industry’s activity was 7 percent higher by October 1995 compared with the like period last year. The U.S Geological Survey reported that consumption of tungsten in all end-use products through October 1995 increased by approximately 48 percent from the previous year. By October, U.S. consumption, boosted by low prices, had increased to 9,750 tons compared with 8,110 tons consumed last year. Worldwide production of tungsten is expected to shift in 1996, as China is likely to cut its tungsten exports by about 10 percent in a bid to push up export prices. Industry sources estimated that Chinese production will fall below 16,500 tons in 1996. Meanwhile, Russia has increased its shipments of tungsten products, contributing to an oversupply in Western markets. Kara Balta, one of Kyrgyzstan’s biggest mining complexes and Onyx, a Russian investment company, are forming a joint venture to develop the Sary Dzhaz tungsten deposit in the Issyk Kul region. The deposit contains more than 150,000 tons of tungsten and is expected to produce an estimated 600 tons of tungsten per year when the second stage of an on-site mill is completed by mid-1996. An oversupply of tungsten in previous years has forced the shutdown of several mines in China as well as in countries such as Austria, Canada and Japan.
    PRICES: Tungsten prices rose in the early months of the year then remained relatively steady during the second half, with combined wolframite and scheelite prices between $62 and $70 per metric ton unit by November. Prices were between $40 and $50 per metric ton unit at the outset of the year.
    AMM Reporter
    Year discovered: 1789
    Atomic No.: 92
    Symbol: U
    Atomic weight: 238.0289
    Melting point: 1,132.3º C ± 0.8
    1995 price range: $9.65-$12.20/lb. (U.S. spot market price.)
    Uranium is the heaviest of the natural elements. Natural uranium contains 99.3-percent isotope 238 and 0.7-percent isotope 235. For nuclear reactor use, isotope 235 is ideal since it is fissionable. Isotope 238 is considered fertile because it can be converted to fissionable plutonium. Silver in color, uranium is fluorescent in many of its compounds. It may spark when struck with a tool and self-ignite in powder form.
    SOURCE: Most of the world’s production comes from Canada, mainly the province of Saskatchewan. In the United States, Wyoming led the country in production of uranium concentrate. Other significant production came from Louisiana, Nebraska and Texas. While prior years had strong shipments of uranium ore from underground and open-pit mines to uranium mills, that sector came to a halt after 1992. In-situ leaching and other types of production such as mill site cleanup and heap leaching now account for U.S. production, estimated at 6.1 million pounds for 1995 vs. 3.9 million pounds for 1994. The estimate for Canadian production was 27.2 million pounds, up from 23.9 million pounds a year earlier. Australia appeared to have produced around 9.8 million pounds, up from 6.1 million pounds, while the African nations of Niger and Namibia also increased their production. For calculation purposes, China is categorized with East European production in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, the former East Germany, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Romania and Russia, and that production totaled 19.6 million pounds. World production for 1995 was estimated at 85.3 million pounds. While that is somewhat higher than the 83.5 million pounds calculated for each of the two prior years, the yearly world production has generally trended downward through the 1990s. It had been at 159.7 million pounds in 1986.
    REVIEW: The U.S. Department of Energy said the relationship of supply to demand weighed in favor of demand, witnessed by the fact that inventory drawdowns continued to be the order of the day. The specter of massive exporting by former East Bloc countries no longer haunted U.S. producers, who succeeded three years earlier in getting dumping margins imposed. No new U.S. nuclear reactors came on line as various proposals for that industry continued to be on hold. However, there is construction under way for 36 new commercial reactors worldwide that will, when completed, yield 29,000 megawatts of power. That translates to a 9-percent growth in nuclear energy capacity. Most of the projects are in Japan, China, South Korea and Indonesia. U.S. utilities rely on enriched uranium from various methods of mining. Elsewhere, however, utilities can count on the use of mixed oxide fuel. In Japan and Europe, some utilities use reprocessed plutonium, a practice that the United States shunned in recent years, in part for security reasons.
    PRICES: As 1995 came to a close, demand helped the U.S. spot market push to $12.20 per pound. The year began with a price of $9.65 per pound, then by May it was $11.80 per pound. It hovered around that point until December. TradeTech, a newly created and privately owned Denver-based company, tracked uranium pricing as the successor to Nuexco.
    AMM Staff Editor
    Year discovered: 1801
    Atomic No.: 23
    Symbol: V
    Atomic weight: 50.9415
    Melting point: 1,890º C ± 10
    1994 price range: $3.90-$5.00/lb. (Latest information available.)
    Vanadium is a gray metal primarily used as an alloying agent for iron and steel and as a strengthener for titanium-based alloys. Vanadium is also a catalyst in sulfuric acid production. After the steel industry, the aerospace market ranks as the second-largest end-user of the metal. Vanadium was discovered in Mexico in 1801 and was thought to be a form of chromium for the next three decades. In 1830, it was rediscovered by N.C. Sefstrom, and in 1887, H.E. Rosco isolated the element from its compounds, mainly vanadite and carnotite. It was named for the Scandinavian love goddess Vanadis.
    SOURCE: Vanadium occurs in deposits of titaniferous magnetite, phosphate rock and uraniferous sandstone and siltstone, in which it constitutes less than 2 percent of the host rock. Significant amounts are also present in bauxite and carboniferous materials such as crude oil, coal, oil shale and tar sands. Because vanadium is usually recovered as a by-product or co-product, demonstrated world resources of the element are not fully indicative of available supplies. The largest reserves of vanadium are found in South Africa, China, the former Soviet Union, Australia and the United States. There were four active U.S. vanadium pentoxide mills in 1994 operating in Louisiana, Texas, Idaho and Arkansas. Another company directly produced ferrovanadium from vanadium-bearing iron slag in Ohio.
    REVIEW: Domestic production figures for vanadium have been withheld in the years from 1990 to 1994 to avoid disclosing company proprietary data, but the U.S. Bureau of Mines reported that production grew 3 percent from 1993 to 1994. The bureau also reported production of ferrovanadium grew by 8 percent and that aluminum-vanadium master alloys increased by more than 20 percent. Domestic consumption of vanadium in 1994 was at its highest level in the last five years at 4,290 metric tons. At year-end 1994, world vanadium supply and demand were in balance for the first time in more than three years. Domestic producers of vanadium pentoxide reported their capacity totaled 18,800 metric tons while overseas producers, combined, had the capacity to make 63,500 tons of the material annually. An experimental ferritic steel under development at Mintek in the Republic of South Africa may have properties that are equal to or superior to austenitic grades. The new iron-base alloy contains 18-percent chromium and up to 4-percent vanadium. According to Mintek, the alloy had superior resistance to corrosion-induced pitting in chloride solutions. This feature, combined with a ductile-to-brittle temperature of less than minus 40 degrees Celsius, gave the new alloy the potential to capture part of the market for Type 304 and Type 316 stainless steel. The National Defense Stockpile Market Impact Committee, co-chaired by the Commerce and State departments, published a Federal Register Notice Nov. 7, 1995, seeking public comment on the market impact of the Department of Defense’s proposed sale of excess materials from the national defense stockpile. The current Annual Materials Plan proposed the sale of 590 tons of stockpiled vanadium pentoxide.
    PRICES: At year-end 1994, world vanadium supply and demand were in balance for the first time in more than three years, according to the former U.S. Bureau of Mines. The domestic price at year-end ranged from $3.90 to $5 per pound. Ferrovanadium prices in the fourth quarter ranged from $4.15 to $7.95 per pound. Part of the increase in price for the commodity was driven by rising aluminum prices, from 50 cents per pound in January to 90 cents per pound in December. Aluminum is used as a reducing agent in the production of ferrovanadium.
    AMM Reporter
    Year discovered: 1374
    Atomic No.: 30
    Symbol: Zn
    Atomic weight: 65.38
    Melting point: 419.58º C
    1995 average price range: 43.02-51.55¢/lb. (London Metal Exchange special high-grade zinc price.)
    Zinc is a bluish-white, lustrous metal derived from ores found in a wide variety of locations throughout the world. Zinc is a fair conductor of electricity and burns in the air at a high, red heat with a release of white clouds of oxide. Zinc is an essential nutrient element in soils and animals. Co-products and by-products of zinc are lead, silver, copper and cadmium. Zinc is used primarily as a protective coating material in construction, transportation and electrical equipment. In many of these uses, it is alloyed with another metal.
    SOURCES: In 1995 in the United States, zinc was primarily produced in Alaska, Missouri, New York and Tennessee, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. China, the world’s largest producer of refined zinc, produced 1.055 million metric tons in 1995 vs 1.017 tons in 1994, according to the International Lead and Zinc Study Group. The Western World’s largest producer of refined zinc, Canada, turned out 720,000 tons in 1995 compared with 691,000 tons in 1994. Large producers of zinc also exist in Australia, France, Germany, Japan and Spain. In 1995, world production totaled 7.241 million tons of refined zinc compared with 7.126 million tons in 1994.
    REVIEW: Several 1995 events shaped the face of the zinc market. In April, much to the disapproval of the American Zinc Association, the U.S. Congress lifted a 6-month moratorium on Defense Logistics Agency sales of zinc, thereby authorizing the sale of 25,000 tons of zinc to the market during the fiscal year. In May, after many months of labor strife, Australia’s Mount Isa Mines declared a force majeure on its shipments to the Far East and eventually to some parts of Europe. In October, Cominco Ltd., Vancouver, British Columbia, announced it is working with Nana Regional Corp. to expand production capacity at its Red Dog lead and zinc mine by approximately 30 percent. At the increased production rate, Red Dog would process 3.2 million tons of ore per year to turn out approximately 820,000 tons of zinc concentrates and 90,000 tons of lead concentrates. In November, the Environmental Protection Agency revised its multi-sector stormwater permit, which is part of the EPA’s program to give galvanizers flexibility and incentives to pursue effective stormwater controls tailored to their local situations. The deadline to develop and implement pollution prevention plans is September 26, 1996.
    PRICES: London Metal Exchange spot prices began the year at 51.55 cents a pound and stayed fairly range-bound until mid-February, when prices hit a six-month low of 43.02 cents a pound. Prices then managed to pick up slightly, but did not break 50 cents a pound until late-April when the spot price reached an 11-week high of 50.03 cents a pound. Prices then stayed in the mid-to-high 40-cent range until October when they hit an eight-month low of 43 cents a pound. Prices failed to break 50 cents a pound for the rest of the year and ended the year at 45.22 cents a pound.
    AMM Reporter
    Year discovered: 1789
    Atomic No.: 40
    Symbol: Zr
    Atomic weight: 91.22
    Melting point: 1,852º C ± 2
    1995 year-end price: $278.00/ton (Domestic standard-grade zirconium price.)
    Zirconium is a hard, shiny, ductile metal similar in appearance to stainless steel. It was first prepared in elemental form in 1824, produced in relatively pure form in 1914 and made into high-purity metal in 1925 by the deBoer-van Arkel method. Zirconium silicate, also known as zircon, occurs naturally in the Earth’s crust. Zircon is a by-product of the mining and processing of heavy mineral sands for the titanium minerals, rutile and ilmenite.
    SOURCE: Major world resources of zircon are located in Australia, South Africa, the former Soviet Union and the United States. Zircon is produced domestically at two mines in northern Florida. The major end- uses of zircon are refractories, foundry sands, including investment castings, and ceramic opacification, particularly for glazed tile manufacturers. It is also used to finish metal and glass products. Refined zirconium metal, which is highly corrosion-resistant, is used as a fuel cladding and structural material in nuclear reactors and for making chemical processing equipment.
    REVIEW: Details concerning production and consumption of zircon concentrates in the United States were withheld by the U.S. Bureau of Mines to protect proprietary company data. However, it was reported that some 53,300 metric tons of milled zircon were produced domestically in 1994, up 14 percent from 46,700 tons in 1993; and 12,100 tons of zirconium oxide were produced in 1994, up 21 percent from 1993’s production of 10,000 tons. The United States imported 82,000 tons of zircon for consumption in 1994, up 17 percent from the 70,000 tons imported in 1993, primarily from Australia and South Africa. U.S. exports of zirconium in 1994 decreased about 11 percent from the prior year. Worldwide production of zirconium metal concentrates totaled 889,000 tons in 1994. The U.S. Bureau of Mines forecast that by the year 2000 global consumption could exceed 1 million tons a year.
    PRICES: Domestic standard-grade zirconium’s published year-end price was $278 per ton from the Starke, Fla., mine, up 4.9 percent from the $265 price of 1993; and $309 per ton for premium grade, which was a 5.1-percent increase from 1993’s $294 per ton.
    AMM Reporter