Column: Power is a double-edged sword for global metals sector – by Andy Home (Reuters – September 28, 2021)

LONDON (Reuters) – The world will need a lot more of metals such as copper, nickel and aluminium if it is going to decarbonise. The potential “green” demand boom from more renewable energy, more power infrastructure and more electric vehicles is tomorrow’s promise for such “energy transition” metals.

Yet, as first China and now Europe is discovering, power is a double-edged sword for metals producers and manufacturers. A power crunch in China has idled over two million tonnes of the country’s aluminum production capacity.

The unfolding energy crisis in Europe has halted the Plovdiv zinc-lead smelter in Bulgaria and forced others such as Nyrstar’s zinc smelter in the Netherlands to reduce output during peak power periods.

In China the power constraints are moving down the supply chain to impact not just primary producers but also products manufacturers, an ominous sign of what may be in store for Europe as winter looms.

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