Insight Magazine

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Letter from the Editor – Anthony Poole, Editor-in-Chief, Platts Metals Daily

President Donald Trump, arguably the most unconventional president the country has ever had, continues to command the attention of the world with every policy shift and unscripted Tweet.

In the metals space, the introduction of controversial tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in the name of national security in March sparked fears of a trade war, wiped trillions of dollars off the value of equities around the world and rang alarm bells among producers of these commodities, as well as downstream manufacturers within the US.

At his state of the union speech in January, Trump repeated his desire to launch a $1 trillion infrastructure renewal program in the US, which could bring about huge rewards for steel and aluminum producers in the country, as well as provide a boost to copper, zinc and a whole range of other industrial metals. Trump’s vision is a gigantic public/private finance initiative that has yet to get off the ground. But there are examples of how infrastructure projects, using existing state and federal funding programs, can benefit US industry.

Industrial metals are also seeing huge benefits from the so-called electric vehicle revolution. Given electric vehicles still represent a very small percentage of the car market, it may not appear to be much of a revolution at all. But Volvo has made a commitment to be all electric starting in 2019.

Even before Trump took office, Ford announced on January 3 last year that it was abandoning plans for a new $1.6 billion automotive plant in Mexico and would, instead, invest $700 million in upgrading and expanding its Flat Rock, Michigan plant and equip it to build a new generation of electric vehicles as part of a multi-billion EV program the company is developing.

General Motors plans to introduce 20 new all-electric vehicles by 2020. It may seem like a long way off, but the UK has committed to banning the sale of cars with internal combustion engines from 2040—gasoline and diesel.

As the automotive industry has embraced the electric vehicle at the expense of the hydrogen fuel cell, these vehicles will need cobalt, lithium, manganese, copper, aluminum, lead, steel and zinc. In the case of cobalt, it will be in quantities scarcely imaginable today.

Many of tonight’s finalistsand winners are already at the cutting edge of innovation enabling the industry to meet such future levels of demand. In the recent past, many have faced challenges of survival in a low-priced, over-supplied environment. Now they face more positive challenges in meeting the demands of the EV revolution and infrastructure programs.

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