ASIAN MORNING BRIEF 08/02: LME base metals drift lower; volatility won't be repeated in next decade, Tom Albanese says; ex-Rio Tinto CEO defends himself vs SEC allegations

The latest news and price moves to start the Asian day on Thursday February 8.

Base metals prices on the London Metal Exchange plunged at the 5pm close on Wednesday February 7, with a strong recovery in the dollar leading copper prices to plummet 2.4%. Read more in our live futures report.

Here are how LME prices looked at Wednesday's close:


Tom Albanese, the former chief executive officer of both Rio Tinto and Vedanta Resources, told Metal Bulletin in an interview that the volatile macro environment around the global financial crisis and the explosion of demand growth in China will not be seen again in the coming decade.

In another interview, Albanese defended himself against fraud allegations made in a civil lawsuit by the Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States and said that he has always operated within the bounds of transparency and strong ethics. This was Albanese’s first public statement on the allegations that he, a former colleague and Rio Tinto deliberately inflated the value of coal assets in Mozambique.

Gécamines chairman Albert Yuma told Metal Bulletin in an interview that the company expects to complete an audit of its joint-venture partners active in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by mid-March, with the report expected to back up the state-run mining company’s drive to renegotiate contracts.

Ivanhoe Mines will meet the higher taxes and royalty requirements expected to be introduced by the DRC provided that it is counterbalanced by stability and transparency into how the additional revenue is spent, executive chairman Robert Friedland said.

Trading houses Transamine and Mercuria have entered into long-term offtake agreements for zinc concentrates from the Century zinc mine, beating competition from nine other parties, according to operator New Century Resources said. Meanwhile, Nyrstar, the world’s second-largest zinc smelter, told Metal Bulletin that it has filed an arbitration request to the operator of the mine to enforce “long-standing life of mine agreements” for the offtake of zinc concentrates.

Private equity investment in mining is expected to remain strong after deal values rose 31% year on year to $2.3 billion in 2017, with the greatest interest seen in copper and in Africa, according to research from London-based law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner.

A rise in demand from the mining sector has led to a year-on-year improvement in the earnings of Swedish engineering group Sandvik, the company said this week. 

Nornickel has signed a $4.4-billion partnership deal with Russian Platinum Plc in a 50:50 owned enterprise to jointly develop three major platinum group metal deposits in Russia.

The US Midwest aluminium premium has jumped more than 15% during the past week, with market participants noting that tightness in the availability of trucks is being felt on prices.

Some US mill-grade aluminium scrap prices inched lower with declines on the LME and limited spot demand, while smelter-grade prices maintained a steady footing.

US copper premiums held steady this week after previously rising for the first time since November due to freight costs, and market participants are only expecting those inputs to rise throughout the next few months and potentially push premiums higher.

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