WEEK IN BRIEF: Myanmar FeNi export ban; LME Johor queues; copper six-year low; Sapa tests; indium exports; Noble Q3 results

Metal Bulletin reviews some of the key news from the past five days in the metals markets.

Metal Bulletin reviews some of the key news from the past five days in the metals markets.

This week began with the 31st International Ferro-Alloys Conference in Prague, and Ellie Wang had the story that a temporary export ban on ferro-nickel imposed by Myanmar in September has stopped the Dagongshan smelter moving metal to its Chinese customers. 

Exports have been suspended while the Myanmar government renegotiates with the smelter how proceeds from sales will be distributed. Click here for the details.

Fesil is combining the operations of its businesses in Germany and Luxembourg as part of a reorganisation aimed at improving efficiency. Janie Davies caught up with Gerardo Cortina, president and ceo of MFC Industrial, parent company of the ferro-silicon producer.

It is highly likely that the European ferro-chrome benchmark price will drop to $1.00 per lb for the first quarter of 2016, Eti Krom marketing director Cengiz Onal told delegates at the conference.

And falling manganese ore prices will bring disaster as 3-4 million tonnes of South African production remains under water and consolidation looks unlikely, according to industry veteran Johan Kriek. 

Here are ten things we learned at the conference, or click here for all our coverage.

Linda Lin was at the China Nickel & Cobalt Forum in Hangzhou, where an official from the Shanghai Futures Exchange told delegates the bourse had increased its warehouse capacity for nickel from 40,000 tonnes to 70,000 tonnes.

Meanwhile, the queue to receive metal from Pacorini’s London Metal Exchange (LME) warehouses in Johor was 31 days at the end of October, according to LME data.

The queue, which did not exist in September, reflects the high level of cancelled nickel warrants at the location. Fleur Ritzema had the details.

On the LME this week, copper hit a fresh six-year low of $4,800 per tonne on Thursday, as weak Chinese macro data continued to dampen sentiment.

The price fall enabled an extremely bearish options trade to break even. The $4 million collared options trade was bought by a New York-based hedge fund in early June, targeting a copper price of $4,000 by mid-December. Mark Burton had the story.

Click here for our latest rolling price report, tracking price moves on the LME and SHFE.

Trading activity in the copper cathode market has slowed due to this year’s continuing long-term negotiations, with even Codelco yet to make its benchmark offer. Kiki Kang had this summary of the past month’s news in the copper market.

And steep falls in aluminium prices in China have led China’s Nonferrous Metals Industry Assn to call on Beijing to intervene.

“Recent malicious short selling has severely threatened the safety of aluminium industrial operations,” Antaike, a consulting agency for the CNIA, said in a report.

And in Europe, spread volatility is tempering a more bullish outlook for aluminium, as strong demand has seen premiums rise over the past month. 

Also in aluminium, downstream producer Sapa reported that test results for certain aluminium extrusions manufactured in its Portland, Oregon, facilities were falsified for almost two decades.

In the indium market, many tonnes of Chinese material have been exported in silver cargoes in recent weeks. The shipments are believed to be taking advantage of the fact that there is no export tax on silver products.

And in people news, Sean Fuller has left his position as vp of strategic supply at Canadian minor metals processor 5N Plus.

Company news also came from Nyrstar. The miner could cut global zinc concentrate supply by up to 400,000 tonnes if prices continue to fall, but it is also considering a complete exit from the mining sector.

And with very few commodity prices seeming on the verge of a dramatic recovery, Andrea Hotter looked at the lingering concerns facing Glencore, and the miner-trader’s responses.

Third-quarter results came from Singapore-listed Noble Group. The company’s net profit for the first three quarters of 2015 was dragged down by a $69 million earnings before interest and taxation loss in its metals and mining division and $208 million losses on joint ventures and associates. Claire Hack had the details.
The company also announced the departure of cfo Robert van der Zalm, who will now take up the role of vice-chairman of finance from London.

Charlotte Radford 
Twitter: @CRadford_MB

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