WEEK IN BRIEF: Nickel price potential; Brazil renews energy contract; Molycorp bankruptcy

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

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

A tightening in stainless scrap availability, combined with recent dips in nickel inventories on the London Metal Exchange, has brought a rare glimmer of hope to Europe’s deflated nickel bulls, deputy editor Fleur Ritzema wrote.

Brazilian miner Vale announced that it would proceed with an IPO of a minority stake in its base metals division only if nickel and copper prices reached “appropriate” levels. Danielle Assalve had the story

China’s imports of the alloying metal surged 28.7% month-on-month in May, with future import levels dependent on the acceptance of foreign brands to the Shanghai Future Exchange’s nickel contract. 

Click here for a summary of China’s base metal imports for May. 

And HSBC’s flash China manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) reached a three-month high in June, providing support to LME and SHFE trading and market sentiment on Wednesday. However, the metals markets remained focused on the potential for Greece to default on its loans, as unresolved talks weighed on base metals prices for much of the week.

Our rolling price report tracks the day’s price changes and industry commentary; find the latest report here.

And Lord Copper examined the issue of credit within metals brokerage, and suggestions that it can be used in different and more flexible ways.

The global refined copper market a saw surplus of 167,000 tonnes during the first three months of the year, compared with a deficit of 233,000 tonnes a year ago, according to the International Copper Study Group (ICSG).

And in the USA we saw copper cathode premiums stabilise amid scattered spot demand from generally sluggish end markets. Metal Bulletin sister publication American Metal Market had the details.

In company news, copper miner Erdenet Mining Corp (EMC) has commissioned a plant expansion in Mongolia that will increase copper concentrates output by more than 20%. Find Shivani Singh’s story here.

Glencore agreed the sale of its 62.5% stake in Sagittarius Mines, including the Tampakan copper project in the Philippines, to an affiliate of Indophil Resources. The miner also bought a state-owned copper mining permit in the Democratic Republic of Congo in February.

Primary aluminium buyers in Japan and some global producers are discussing premiums for third-quarter delivery between $90 and $105 per tonne. Premiums for delivery in the second quarter were agreed at $380 per tonne.

And United Co Rusal has announced it is opening a representative office in Istanbul to capture the sharp increases in aluminium demand that are forecast in Turkey.

The Brazilian government signed a provisional law extending the country’s low-priced energy contract until 2037. The agreement had been due to expire on June 30, and exists between state-owned power company Chesf and a group of electro-intensive industrial consumers in the north-east of the country.

Following news of the renewal, local ferro-alloys producer Ferbasa announced that it was “not in a hurry” to sell its inventories of ferro-chrome and ferro-silicon. The company had been accumulating stocks to ensure it could continue to supply the market, in the event that the contract was not renewed.

Elsewhere in the alloys market, Janie Davies reported that Tata Steel KZN has shut its Richards Bay ferro-chrome plant in South Africa after the start of the country’s winter electricity tariff this month.

And Spain-focused tungsten company W Resources could remain profitable even at an ammonium paratungstate (APT) price in Europe below $200 per mtu, the company’s chairman told Metal Bulletin on Tuesday.

Latest assessed prices for APT in-warehouse Rotterdam are here.

In the rare earths market, we saw Molycorp file voluntary petitions under Chapter 11 of the US bankruptcy code and enter into financial restructuring agreements with its creditors. Check out our timeline detailing the ups and downs of the rare earths producer.

And in this week’s people moves, Mike Camacho will become the sole head of global commodities at JP Morgan following the departure of John Anderson; Raymond Eyles has left Trafigura’s Galena macro opportunities fund; and Blackstone has appointed Kamal Naqvi to join its Hedge Fund Solutions business.

Charlotte Radford

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