WEEK-IN-BRIEF: ENRC marketing rights; silver fix; Chinese funds eye zinc; SRB cobalt purchases

It’s been a wild week on the Metal Bulletin news desk. Here, deputy editor Fleur Ritzema wraps up the key stories.

It’s been a wild week on the Metal Bulletin news desk. Here, deputy editor Fleur Ritzema wraps up the key stories.

Summer slowdown? What summer slowdown? It’s been a news-filled week.

Janie Davies revealed that ENRC has held talks with five of the world’s largest metal trading firms to outsource marketing rights to its products in exchange for pre-financing of material.

The Kazakh miner is understood to be discussing outsourcing its iron ore marketing to Trafigura in return for pre-financing of material. 

ENRC’s strategy is to reduce debt and access cash at better rates than it had been able to secure from banks following its privatisation last year, sources said.

Members of the London Bullion Market Assn (LBMA), meanwhile, gave their backing to a joint proposal by CME Group and Thomson Reuters to administer the silver fix from August 14.

In other exchange news, the number of ring-dealing members on the London Metal Exchange will soon drop to ten as Newedge and Société Générale merge their floor teams, Metal Bulletin understands.

Hedge funds in China turned their attention to the zinc market, where open interest on the Shanghai Futures Exchange has risen steeply over the past month. 

For more on the Chinese hedge funds, click here.

And physical zinc traders have been looking to pick up warrants in New Orleans following the effective disappearance of the queue to withdraw metal from London Metal Exchange warehouses at the Louisiana port.

In aluminium, Alcoa increased its forecast global aluminium supply deficit for the year.

The Pittsburgh-based company is estimating a 2014 supply deficit of 930,000 tonnes, up 27.4% from a 730,000-tonne deficit estimated in the first quarter.

And premiums continued to soar.

Third-quarter aluminium deals for delivery at main Japanese ports settled at record levels of $400-408 per tonne cif basis, about 10% higher than the previous quarter, Metal Bulletin’s Shivani Singh wrote.

Qingdao continued to make headlines this week, as Standard Bank confirmed it has an exposure of $170 million related to aluminium held in a bonded warehouse in the Chinese port. It has begun legal proceedings in the Chinese province of Shandong “to protect its position”. 

In copper, the Qingdao investigation, production problems in Chile, and smelter disruptions in China may not yet have managed to severely disrupt the ability of market participants to source copper units when they need to.

But as Andrea Hotter writes, once the supply of material gets tighter and official warehouse stocks are relied on more heavily, the copper market could start to realise it’s a lot less supplied than many currently perceive. 

And finally, Metal Bulletin revealed on Friday that China’s State Reserve Bureau plans to buy cobalt for its reserves.

The removal of several hundred tonnes of metal is sure to add momentum to the price rally, market sources said.

Fleur Ritzema 
Twitter: FleurRitzema_MB 


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