WEEK IN BRIEF: Nickel price movements; LME warehouse reforms; copper TC/RCs fall; FeCr benchmark

Metal Bulletin’s Charlotte Radford takes a look back at the key news stories and price moves from the past seven days.

Metal Bulletin’s Charlotte Radford takes a look back at the key news stories and price moves from the past seven days.

At the beginning of the week we reported that the Shanghai Futures Exchange had approved metal produced by Norilsk Nickel for delivery against its futures contracts.

What followed was a bumpy week for the alloying metal, as three-month nickel prices lost $790 per tonne in the London Metal Exchange’s official session on Monday. Deepali Sharma spoke to market participants about the impact of the new nickel supplies.

And as LME prices hovered at their lowest levels since 2009, Metal Bulletin deputy editor Fleur Ritzema examined opposing views on the fundamentals of the nickel market.

Find our latest rolling LME/SHFE price report, with the latest exchange prices, here.

The LME also launched a market-wide consultation to gauge the response to two new queue-cutting proposals as the exchange enters what it hopes is the “final straight” of its warehouse reform programme.

Andrea Hotter looked at how warehouses might respond to the proposed queue-tackling measures, amid suggestions that the bourse is moving closer to cash-settled contracts.

Greece missed its Wednesday deadline to make a €1.6 billion repayment to the International Monetary Fund, and the country’s debt situation continued to put pressure on the base metals complex.

Here, Jethro Wookey considers whether Greece’s aluminium producers and converters could benefit from a Eurozone exit.

Elsewhere in the aluminium market, Alcoa confirmed it will permanently close its Poços de Caldas primary aluminium smelter in Brazil on June 30, removing 96,000 tpy of smelting capacity.

Trafigura Beheer BV has sold half its stake in three Spanish copper-zinc mines to Abu-Dhabi’s investment and development firm Mubadala Development Co. The two firms also agreed to form a 50/50 joint venture to invest in the base metals mining sector.

Metal Bulletin’s Copper Concentrates Index dropped to its lowest level in 22 months this week, as merchants continued to compete for clean cargoes. Find the latest market commentary on copper treatment and refining charges here.

And China has reintroduced a rebate for the VAT that importers must pay on copper scrap, though the size of the new refund is well below what many in the market were expecting. Kiki Kang had the story.

In Zambia, lower mining taxes, introduced on July 1, should help to repair relations between the government and copper miners. Copper Price Briefing editor Mark Burton had the story, and looked at the issues still requiring resolution in the country’s mining sector.

Staying in Zambia, ENRC has been telling its cobalt customer base that Chambishi will restart production this month. Operations were suspended for three months in April on a shortage of feed.

Cobalt prices came under pressure this week amid expectations of a summer slowdown. The latest figures are here.

And elsewhere in the minors market, James Heywood caught up with the Fanya Metal Exchange’s new gm of global markets, Dennis Yang, to find out about a new offshore exchange that should reduce the discrepancy between Fanya and physical spot market prices. Find the full interview here.

A closer look at the workings of Fanya can be found here.

Janie Davies reported that the European third-quarter ferro-chrome benchmark has rolled over at $1.08 per lb, resisting downward pressure for the first time since 2009. In Tapped In, we looked at the benchmark’s relationship to the real market, as market participants consider ways to narrow the gap between different global spot prices.

Metal Bulletin's latest assessed prices for high-carbon ferro-chrome, delivered in Europe, are here

South African chrome producer Tharisa’s ceo Phoevos Pouroulis expects chrome concentrate prices to rise over the next 12 months on comparatively-low stock in Chinese ports.

And the country’s energy regulator refused national power utility Eskom’s second tariff increase request in the current financial period. The increase would have taken rates up by 25.3%.

In company news, Rio Tinto has extended the timeframe in which it will pay its suppliers to 45 days, from 30 days previously, blaming lower commodity prices.

We also had the miner’s ceo Sam Walsh’s reassuringly cheerful outlook for the mining industry

Speaking on the sidelines of the Zambian Mining Investment Forum this week, mining veteran Tom Albanese suggested that natural market forces will start to bring oversupplied commodities back into balance over time, eventually laying the groundwork for the upswing in the supply-and-demand cycle.

And in this week’s people moves, Daniel Harris resigned from his role as ceo of Atlantic Ltd on June 29; United Co Rusal appointed Christophe Hoet to the position of director of Asian sales; and Japanese minor metals manufacturer Samwood hired ex-5N Plus director Dominic Boyle as business director.

Charlotte Radford
charlotte.radford@metalbulletin.com

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