ASIAN MORNING BRIEF 19/04: Rally on LME sends nickel to highest level since December 2014; PT Timah hasn’t exported tin since March, source says; Chinese zinc smelters extend maintenance period

The latest news and price moves to start the Asian day on Thursday April 19.

Base metal prices on the London Metal Exchange surged at the close of ring trading on Wednesday April 18, with nickel recording the highest intraday price move since 2009. Read more in our live futures report.

Here are how prices looked at Wednesday’s close:

Nickel prices on the London Metal Exchange traded at their highest level since December 2014, with concerns about further sanctions fueling a significant rally.

Indonesia’s PT Timah, the world’s third-largest tin smelter and the largest supplier of 99.9% consumer-grade tin to the physical market, has not exported tin since March 20 due to an impasse over permitting, an informed source at the company told Metal Bulletin.

Multiple sources told Metal Bulletin that cash-strapped zinc smelters in China have brought forward and extended planned maintenance to avoid further squeezes to margins as a result of softer treatment charges, tight concentrate supply and low zinc prices.

Private equity funds are looking to capitalize on gaps in the copper supply pipeline by investing in small-scale mining projects, Pala investments managing partner Stephen Gill told Metal Bulletin.

Rio Tinto reported a 65% year-on-year rise in copper production during the first quarter of 2018, mainly due to a significant recovery in output at the Escondida mine in Chile following a labor union strike in the first half of last year.

Queensland, Australia-based Metro Mining started bauxite mining operations at its Bauxite Hills site on April 13, with the first shipment of 60,000 tonnes earmarked for a Chinese buyer.

In steel news, Taiwanese authorities have initiated anti-dumping and countervailing duty probes into imports of various Chinese steel products in an attempt to be exempted from the United States’ Section 232 import tariffs.

Brazilian flat steel producer Usiminas expects to reduce its purchases of third-party slab volumes after the resumption of operations at its No. 1 blast furnace at Ipatinga, in the country’s southeastern Minas Gerais state.

Brazil’s exports of pig iron could exceed 3 million tonnes in 2018 mainly due to higher shipping volumes from the south of the country, where local forests make charcoal-making possible, Metal Bulletin has learned.

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