WEEK-IN-BRIEF: Will Philippines follow Indonesia? Glencore’s Glasenberg on the supercycle; premiums on the rise

Metal Bulletin's editor Alex Harrison takes a look back at some of the key stories from the week.

Metal Bulletin’s editor Alex Harrison takes a look back at some of the key stories from the week.

Nickel prices on the London Metal Exchange moved up sharply from September 3, on reports that a senator in the Philippines has tabled a bill to make processing of ore in the country mandatory.

Prices traded at $19,385 per tonne on a cash basis on September 5, approaching recent highs of $19,695 per tonne on July 7.

Read Metal Bulletin’s Fleur Ritzema spot analysis of the implications of the news, here.

Analysts from Citi, including nickel expert David Wilson, reckon the removal of supply of ore from the Philippines would be the “death knell” for nickel pig iron producers in China. Find out why here.

Glencore ceo Ivan Glasenberg reckons BHP Billiton’s Newco assets are “decent” and the commodities supercycle is not over — just oversupplied.

But he played down reports that talks to merge the conjoining nickel assets in Canada controlled by Vale and Glencore are over.

And what about a possible bid for Anglo American? “We don’t trade diamonds or platinum,” he said.

Zinc producer Nyrstar announced plans that will take pressure off its balance sheet.

What happened? Why is it important? And what happens next? Find out more here.

Intriguing developments in Japan where Rio Tinto settled some fourth-quarter aluminium premiums up on the third quarter — but well below the level that other producers are offering for the same period.

Spot premiums also rose in Brazil and the US Midwest, where “people really need the metal”.

Aluminium spreads on the LME are tight — “This is the only LME market where nearby metal is not available. This is the deficit,” one trader told Metal Bulletin — and yet material is not being released in volumes. Jethro Wookey on the hopes and fears of aluminium buyers in Europe: read it here.

Read an in-depth interview with Alba’s ceo Tim Murray.

A question that will animate South Africa’s chrome producers: who is supplying South African ferro-chrome producers’ rivals in China with chrome ore?

A producer in China said it will cut cobalt metal supply in half this month. Check out the story here.

The LME is hiring a head of sales to take word of its contracts direct to the market, Metal Bulletin learned.

Following the lifting of duties on Russian copper cathode exports last month, it will be worth watching out for movements in European premiums next week. Rotterdam premiums have come under significant strain over the summer months, and the scrapping of the duties has raised the prospect that the market could be depressed even further if Russian cathode starts flowing into Europe.

With only six weeks to go until LME Week, producers, consumers and traders will be watching premiums in Europe closely for clues as to how the fresh competition from Russian suppliers may affect contractual discussions.

“It could be that by the time LME Week rolls around we have a very messy spot premium if the Russians do start exporting, just like we did after Qingdao,” one producer source told Metal Bulletin last week.

Alex Harrison
Twitter: @alexharrison_mb

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