Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Would the last person to leave the smelter please turn out the lights?

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For UC RUSAL, one simple act is crucial to reducing costs.
Bonuses for managers at the world’s largest aluminium company
depend on the company’s 75,000 workers heeding the message.
“We have to introduce a new culture: if you leave the
office, turn off the lights,” Artyom Volynets, UC RUSAL’s deputy
chief executive for strategy, said at Reuters Global Mining and
Steel Summit on Monday.
“We have 16 smelters, each with their own headquarters and
offices. We employ 75,000 people. If each one of them is
switching off the lights at the end of their shift, that would
help tremendously.”
UC RUSAL embarked on a major drive to slash production costs
last year as part of an ultimately successful attempt to secure
Russia’s largest ever private sector debt restructuring.
Easy access to Siberian hydroelectric power, compared with
relatively high-cost coal used to power smelters in other parts
of the world, affords UC RUSAL a distinct cost advantage when
making aluminium used in transport, construction and packaging.
In the first half of 2009, it cost UC RUSAL an average
$1,400 to produce a tonne of aluminium. The metal is now selling
at above $2,200 a tonne.
UC RUSAL has cut costs by sourcing cheaper raw materials of
better quality and improving throughput rates at its smelters in
Siberia, which account for about 80 percent of its total output.
But cheap power in Siberia had also led to complacency.
“Our smelters are located in probably the only remaining
major energy-long region in the world. Therefore, if you buy
power at 2 cents per kilowatt, you don’t really care how much
you spend,” Volynets said.
“For my colleagues on the operational side of the business,
their key performance indicators are 100 percent tied to cost
improvements,” he said. “They will not be compensated if these
improvements are not implemented.”
(Writing by Robin Paxton in Moscow)

2010 Global Mining and Steel Outlook

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This time last year, steel mills and base metal miners were in an unprecedented slump, with metal prices bouncing off multi-year lows amid steep economic downturn. Since then, the world economy has turned upwards and demand for metal is resurging. While many analysts have cited economic recovery for the price gains, they add that demand signals show only slow, choppy growth. Whether metal prices have gained as investors search for a place to put excess liquidity or are based in solid supply/demand fundamentals remains a question. Get exclusive insight into the sector from the Reuters Global Mining and Steel Summit taking place in New York, London and Sydney on Mar 8-11.

Audio – The family jewels

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This week’s annual Reuters Global Mining and Steel Summit has been a pretty rich event.

Oh, the guests have been stellar, for sure, but there’s also been a lot of talk about gold and jewelry and the prospect that maybe someday this lousy economy will turn around.

Audio – For best M&A results? Don’t forget the fish and the booze!

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There is an entire industry out there about what to do to make a merger a success. Many of us know bankers or lawyers who work for weeks and hours on end just to make sure their deals are perfectly done with all the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted.

Millions of dollars are spent on just teaching people the best way to get a transaction from idea to completion.

Audio – Kinross in the ‘Sweet Spot’

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In the M&A world, this is where you want to be.

Kinross Gold’s CEO Tye Burt said at the Reuters Global Mining and Steel Summit on Wednesday that as far as mergers and acquisitions go, his company is in a pretty good place — there are more deals hitting his desk, sellers are getting more motivated and Kinross, the third-largest of the Canadian gold miners, has the cash to do a little shopping.

While Burt did not expect to be party to one of those huge mega-deals, he did indicate the company was keeping its options open — and was listening for bargains.

Audio – A little less joy down the road for Joy Global

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Mining and construction equipment maker Joy Global actually had a pretty good week for itself.

The company released its first-quarter results last Wednesday, which topped Wall Street’s expectations and sent the shares up more than 15 percent.

Welcome to the 2009 Reuters Global Mining Summit

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Prices for copper, zinc and aluminum have plummeted in the last four months as the global economic downturn cut demand from China and other developing countries who needed metals and steel to build up their infrastructure.

Mining companies who were hot last year and earning unprecedented profits until last September, have had to scramble to deal with the lower outlook by cutting costs, laying off workers, idling plants and reducing production.

Video – Steelmakers forge survival plan

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As a global recession hits just about every industry, steelmakers too have felt the brunt, logging dramatic declines in demand.

Output for steel globally sank nearly 25 percent in January alone, with North America posting a more than 50 percent decline. Still analysts say the steel industry may be positioned to survive a recession.

For a banker, no panic in China

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“Well insulated” China, though suffering from sharp drops in its own equities markets, doesn’t have the sense of crisis that exists in the U.S., says Philip Partnow, managing director of UBS Securities Ltd in Beijing. UBS, the first Western bank to assume management control of a domestic mainland brokerage, points out the fact that what’s hitting companies is not subprime-related securities gone bad.

“I think there’s nothing here we feel is toxid,” he told Reuters on Wednesday at the Reuters China Summit in Beijing. He goes on:

Peru miner eyes record gold and silver production

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roque_benavides.jpgPeruvian miner Buenaventura said 2008 will be a record-setting year for its main silver and gold mines.

Silver output at its Uchucchacua mine should increase to 12 million ounces in 2008 from 9.9 million ounces in 2007, said Buenaventura Chief Executive Roque Benavides.

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