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Brewer sets ball rolling on aluminium warehousing reform

Thursday, Jul 25, 2013

Tim Weiner, MillerCoor's global risk manager has drawn attention to the LME warehousing situation and its effect on aluminium pricing and delivery.

Mr Weiner highlighted what he called the development of an 'economic anomaly' in the global metals market that has resulted in higher prices despite a glut in supplies.

Speaking in a statement to the US Senate banking committee, Weiner said that a lack of regulation in the USA and the UK were to blame for the problem and added that US banks have 'effective control of the LME'.

It is thought that Weiner's outspoken comments on the subject will prompt some kind of action on what has become a controversial issue for the aluminium industry. A hearing is scheduled for next week in which senators will discuss bank ownership of metals warehouses and this is ahead of a decision by the Federal Reserve on bank ownership of physical commodity assets in September.

The fact that banks are allowed to trade in physical commodities is now under scrutiny by America's central bank, which last Friday said a rethink was under consideration.

Where the global aluminium industry is concerned, lengthy queues and log jams, surging premiums and inflated prices have been physical result of a system that has cost aluminium users dear and one which Weiner describes as 'unfair'.

Why unfair? Because the banks have a say in the rule making process and, therefore, help set the LME's warehosuing policy.

Weiner called for tighter supervision of Wall Street and merchant banks and this might lead to Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan relinquishing ownership of Metro International Trade Services and Henry Bath respectively.

He wants the LME to be aligned with other US futures exchanges in terms of regulation and legislation.

As for the LME, it has announced 'sweeping reform' of its warehousing policy, but changes won't come into effect until April 2014.

Nick Madden, senior vice president and chief supply chain officer at Novelis, said the senators' hearing marks the beginning of the end for the warehousing issue, which can only be good news for the aluminium industry.

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