This page is archived news covering the period of December 2007
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Stainless Steel Prices and Nickel News

Free comprehensive information on worldwide nickel market pricing, stainless steel prices and metals market analysis and forecasts


Updated twice daily M-F before 8:00 am CST and by 1 pm CST

2008 Nickel Forecasts
2008 Nickel Forecasts taken from annual Bloomberg survey of metals analysts - median $13.38/lb
ABARE - $12.47/lb CPM - $13.73/lb Logic Advisors - $13.38/lb
ABN Amro - $12.00/lb Credit Suisse - $15.00/lb Merrill Lynch - $16.763/lb
Barclays - $13.80/lb Deutsche Bank - $14.88/lb RBC - $14.00/lb
BNP - $13.55/lb EIU - $13.60/lb Sanford C. Bernstein - $10.66/lb
Citigroup - $10.00/lb Goldman Sachs - $11.45/lb UBS - $13.25/lb
Commerzbank -  $10.89/lb JP Morgan - $13.15/lb Westpac - $14.23/lb
December 31
  Afternoon Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $11.70/lb 3 month buyer - $11.79/lb (22% lower than 1/1/07)
  • Baltic Dry Index - unchanged since 12/24. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 60 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 138 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 12 tonnes from Singapore warehouse, plus 96 tonnes into Baltimore, MD, USA warehouse, minus 6 tonnes from Vlissingen, Netherlands warehouse
  • Quiet day on the LME with nickel trickling slightly downwards. For the year, three month nickel ended at $11.91/lb ($26,250/tonne). That puts the price of three month nickel down 21.1% for the year, and after a 55.6% gain earlier in the year.   
  • Closing Metals Report - more
  • Markets are closed tomorrow for New Year Holiday. See you next year!!

  The year 2007 has been a roller coaster ride for the base metals complex. The first quarter saw an appreciation in prices for example Nickel which made new highs. - more

  China exported steel to 207 countries, but South Korea accounted for 18.2% of the volumes. The country wise details are as under - more

  The ANSA news agency reported that a seventh steelworker died on Sunday from serious burns sustained in a fire more than three weeks ago at German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp's Turin based mill in northern Italy. He was the last injured worker still undergoing treatment. - more

  IRON ore has made a lot of people a lot of money. It has earned Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest the moniker of the richest man in the country - even if it is only on paper - and it has caused untold acrimony between other iron ore wannabes trying to get a slice of options and cash. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indications at 7:55 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.05/lb . It's the last trading day for 2007 and markets have been quiet so far.
  • Bloomberg - more

  Nickel will lead a decline in industrial metals next year as stockpiles expand and demand slows with the U.S. housing market, a survey of analysts showed. Nickel for immediate delivery will average $29,500 a metric ton ($13.38/lb) next year on the London Metal Exchange, according to the median of 19 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News this month.  - more

  ABARE Economics - Australian Commodity Statistics - December 2007 - pdf here

  Beginning LME nickel inventory/overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 0 tons = 47,946 tonnes (1.31% - 630 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 47,316 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - market closed for holiday (charts)
Weekend Review, Dec 29 & 30
  Notice - We finalized the years trading price Friday at $11.93/lb. That was incorrect. Based on their website, the London Metal Exchange is open Monday to trade for the last day of 2007.

  Courtesy Gulf Times - "Tropical cyclone Melanie, a category two storm with winds of up to 120kph, was nearing Australia’s remote northwest coast yesterday, prompting meteorologists to issue cyclone warnings for coastal regions. Tropical cyclone Melanie was estimated to be 410km north of Port Hedland, a key terminal for the shipment of iron ore, and 465km northeast of oil producing region Karratha, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said. The cyclone was moving south about 11kph. Melanie is the first storm of the November-to-April season to form in Australia’s “cyclone alley”, which is also home to the world’s biggest iron ore deposits and major oil and gas fields. Normally the area sees about five storms each season."

  The Chinese government will adjust the import and export duties on some products from January 1 to save domestic resources and ensure better trade balance. - more

  Courtesy  Philippine Inquirer - "With at least P6 billion in natural gas royalty expected over the next three years, which can double if it wins ownership of the Camago Malampaya oil and gas reserves in the Supreme Court, Palawan is going easy on mining investments....During the mining summit, Reyes announced that Palawan would impose a moratorium on exploration activities in the nickel and manganese-rich area of Mt. Mantalingahan, which is set to be declared a protected landscape. He said small-scale mining operations in the southern areas would be scrutinized after these had come under fire from environmental groups for violations of the law. “What would the province really get from them?” Reyes said in Filipino, referring to the tax exemptions allowed by mining laws to small-scale operations."

  In March 2008, International Quality Steel LLC (United Arab Emirates) will start production of stainless billet in their new 90,000tpy steelmaking shop.

  12/27 - Bus carrying 43 Filipino workers from Goro nickel plant under construction to the airport slides across roadway on curve, and strikes oncoming Peugeot, killing 27 year old Anthony Dujeu. None of the Goro workers were injured.

  Courtesy Rusmet - " The increase in iron and steel production and the production of finished metal products in January-November 2007 amounted to 101.8% of the corresponding period of 2006...... Dynamics of nickel in January-November 2007 amounted to 97.1% of the corresponding period of 2006. In doing so, enterprises MMC Norilsk Nickel nickel production fell by 4.9% in OAO Kombinat "Yuzhuralnikel" - increased by 19.2%, in OAO Ufaleynikel "- at 1.9 percent." "According to the related statistics, Russia exported 146,489 tons of stainless steel scrap (Ni>8%) from January to September, decreasing by 20 percent than 183,122 tons in the same time of last year. Finland has become the main country of Russia’s scrap exports which contributes 58,576 tons in the first 9 months of this year, followed by Netherlands and Germany."

  Courtesy Business Standard - "While the first half of 2008 is expected to remain subdued for base metals globally, prices are likely to pick up in the second half. The slowdown, which started in 2007, is set to spill over into the new year as base metals are estimated to slump further by 8%. But a recovery should follow towards the end of the first half as Chinese traders will jump into the market with fresh bookings. Although, China’s actual consumption may not be as high as it was in 2006 and 2007 as infrastructure development for Olympic Games might be over, the ongoing development plan, bolstered by a robust 11.7 per cent growth in gross domestic product (GDP), will continue. Therefore, the demand for base metals would continue, albeit with at slower pace, said Raghavan Sundararajan, an analyst with Kotak Commodities Services."

  Sudip Bandyopadhyay, CEO of Reliance Money, to The Economic Times - "The fundamental outlook is reasonably sound for base metals," says Mr Bandyopadhyay. Despite the current turmoil, the US will avoid recession and global economic growth will still be near 5-7% in 2008. This, together with the destocking/ re-stocking effect, suggests that LME metals demand growth could even pick up in 2008. "The supply side should limit the downside for copper and aluminum, whereas it points to further hefty losses for zinc and over the longer term, nickel," he says."

  BHP BILLITON has quietly advanced plans to start building a $US2 billion-plus ($2.2 billion-plus) nickel laterite project in Indonesia within three years, even though the project falls outside its main development pipeline presented to investors this month. - more

  (excerpt) Chrome is fetching about $US500 a tonne, against $US26,550/tonne for nickel, so we are not surprised to hear that stainless-steel producers are putting more chrome and less nickel in their end product. - more

  Just for fun...
Most common media headline on days when reporters have no idea
On days when nickel price drops

  • Nickel Price in Consolidation Mode
  • Metal Prices Fall on Housing Concerns
  • Metals Volatility Continues

On days when nickel price increases

  • Metal Prices Increase on Chinese Demand
  • Metal Prices Increase on Renewed Investor Interest
  • Metals Volatility Continues

Headlines we would like to see from honest reporters

  • Nickel Bear Removed from Endangered Species List
  • Fickle Nickel in a Price Pickle
  • Nickel Bull 'Testicle Festival' Opens Today
  • LME? Is that Short for 'Leggo of My Eggo'?
  • Quite on Que, and we have no Clue
  • Deadline for a Headline - and what the heck is nickel?

  Chinese media carried a story this past week about the difficulties the Chinese fastener industry is facing. According to the article, Haiyan China is the largest fastener production base in the world, with 70% of production exported to over 60 countries. The article reports that more than 200 small-sized fastener manufacturers in Haiyan have closed recently. Quote from the article - "A lot of fastener enterprises in Haiyan operate under this hidden rule: The price can be as low as possible as long as they can make profits. As a result, journalist here associates the "tragedy of the commons" frequently referred in western economics: When the land belongs to the whole public, everyone will contend for development, as the land development will create benefits. Therefore, the land will be destroyed. When the grassland belongs to the public, everyone has his/her rights to graze, so he/she will graze for one's own benefits. To maximize personal interests, everyone will compare with each other and increase the number of the livestock. As a result, the number of the sheep greatly exceeds the capacity of this grassland. If everyone goes on like this, the land will become desertification. It is the real fact of Haiyan fastener industry that the enterprises just consider one's own benefits, regardless of the common interests of the whole industry." (the analogy the author uses applies far beyond the Chinese fastener industry) 

  Fortis Metals Monthly - pdf here

  Scotiabank Commodity Price Index - pdf here

  (from Societe General report 12/14/07)

 

  Base Metals Stockpiles & Prices 3 - more here

  Courtesy/copyright Dow Jones - "LME nickel slips as consumers sit on the sidelines and investment interest remains noticably absent, says a trader. While demand from the stainless sector is expected to pick up in '08, the outlook to year-end is for "much of the same," he adds, with prices set to drift."

  Dow Jones - Brazilian mining and metals group Vale is due to plant 346mn trees in countries where it operates by 2015, covering an area of 300,000ha, the company said on its website.

  Copyright The Financial Times Limited - "Global Smelters Ltd is increasing the capacity of stainless steel plant to 4 lakh tonnes per annum (tpa) from 1 lakh tpa now in Hamirpur, Uttar Pradesh. The plant will come up on 35 acres of land with an investment of Rs150 crore. ...Around 15 percent of work is complete and the remaining would be over by Dec 2008."

  Copyright The Financial Times Limited - "Varun Industries ...is the largest exporter of stainless steel kitchenware and house ware products in India. The company has 80 suppliers and exports its products to North America, South America, Central America, the European Union, the Middle East, the Far East, Africa and Australia. Recently, the company set up a manufacturing and warehousing facility in Vasai (E), in Thane district, near Mumbai with an investment of Rs55 crore. The plant will manufacture a wide variety of stainless steel kitchenware and house ware. The company has plans to diversify into other businesses like oil and gas drilling, iron ore mining, wind and hydropower generation and agro product exports."

  According to the related information, Russia exported ferro-chrome about 250,966 tonnes from January to September 2007, up by 10.1%YoY as compared to 227,935 tonnes in same period last year. - more

  Imports Rise 13% in October from September Still Down Significantly for the Year - more

Friday, Dec 28
  Afternoon Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $11.95/lb 3 month buyer - $12.10/lb (19.9% lower than 1/1/07)
  • Baltic Dry Index - not updated since 12/24 currently at 9,143 (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 798 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 66 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 186 tonnes from Singapore warehouse, plus 216 tonnes into Vlissingen, Netherlands warehouse
  • It has been a long year for those involved in stainless steel production and distribution. For most of the first half of the year, the price of nickel seemed to have no limit, with stainless steel prices carried along for the ride. But, the limit was to be reached in May, at the $50,000/tonne level. None dared forecast such a level earlier, and for those who had been predicting a major correction since earlier the prior year, their time to shine and finally be right, was at hand. The summer months saw nickel in a nose dive, losing 1/2 of its value. In return, stainless steel sellers and users, stocked with inventory that was over-priced overnight, turned from 'get-it-before-it-goes-higher' buyers to 'cheaper-tomorrow?' non-buyers. Stainless steel production, which had been growing at phenomenal rates in past years, suddenly looks to end the year flat. Nickel production, which just months earlier had struggled to keep up with demand, continued to increase. In the mean time, producers and consumers, tired of being held hostage to London based traders, began to look at alternative sources. The interest in 200 and 400 series stainless steel increased, while Chinese suppliers discovered a process to smelt low grade laterite ore, which had been discarded and stockpiled by nickel miners for years as worthless. Originally pooh-poohed by most, substitution and 'pig nickel' have both become legitimate threats to the nickel industry. As 2007 ends, there are many concerns facing the future of the stainless steel and nickel industry's. Stainless steel producers demand the price of nickel show some stability, while nickel traders appear to play the market as if volatility were the only way to make money. And thus the stand off and tug-of-war of the last few months continues. Nickel producers, apparently convinced that the slowdown in stainless steel production of 2007, will not repeat itself in years to come, continue to invest billions into new nickel mining ventures, with large scale mines scheduled to come on board in 2008. And probably the most concerning, at least in our opinion, is the phenomenal growth in China's stainless steel production, that has fueled this entire boom. While there is no reason to believe domestic use of Chinese stainless steel will wain anytime soon, their export market is starting to look bruised. More and more countries are yelling foul and examining the option of placing anti-dumping duties on Chinese made stainless. The EU, South Korea and Russia are the most recent, but it is only a matter of time before the US, under a new administration, will look seriously at the situation. This will accelerate problems for an industry that, according to their own government, is already saturated with over-production. And while there is little evidence the boom will go bust anytime soon, there are warning signs evident that advice all interested parties to stay alert. 2007 proved to be an interesting year, and 2008 is shaping up to be equally, if not even more, challenging.
  • Three month nickel ended 2006 at $15.10/lb, with LME nickel inventories at 6,648 tonnes. For the final trading day of this year, those same warehouses hold 47,946 tonnes of nickel, and the trading price ended at $11.93/lb ($26,300/tonne). The history books will show nickel ended 21% lower for the year, but if they fail to remind their readers that the price had grown by 55.6% earlier in the year, they will only tell half of the story.                   
  • Closing Metals Report - more
  • We want to take this opportunity to thank you for being a reader, and a special thank you to the sponsors, that make this daily news site possible. It is our deepest hopes that 2007 was one of your best years yet, and that 2008 will prove even better. The Happiest of New Years to you all!!
  • (And please drive carefully this weekend. Just because you are responsible and don't drink and drive, doesn't mean the driver in the oncoming lane, or approaching the stop light against the red...hasn't had a few.)  

  (excerpt) 'I am astonished this has taken so long,' Mr Stopford remarked. 'In some months [of 2007] China has exported as much steel as Japan produces.' - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.18/lb . The addition of 570 tonnes of nickel recorded overnight, apparently served as a reminder to traders that the market is what it is and their recent attempts to drive the price higher is not justified by the fundamentals.   
  • Bloomberg - more

  Under the approval of the State Council, China will further readjust its import and export tariffs as of January 1st 2008. Detailed list of goods subject to export tax imposition as of Jan 1st 2008 is as under. - more  US traders said that export tax increases due to come into effect on a wide range of Chinese ferroalloy exports on January 1 would help drive prices up in the US, even though there was some uncertainty about the precise details of which commodities were affected. - more

 Ore and coal deposits in East Siberia can well be compared with those of Australia. According to geological prospecting data, the Siberian ores and coals are of a high quality and can be in great demand on both the domestic and world markets. - more

  Kazakhstan Today - As a result China increased ferrochrome import from Kazakhstan, and Japan supply with low-carbon and medium-carbon ferrochrome grew up by 11% or up to 72 thousand of tones.

  The past year will go down as one of numerous mergers in the base metals sector, however it will also be remembered for a messy divorce between the co-owners of MMC Norilsk Nickel which looks, nonetheless, to have sparked off the creation of one of the world's largest diversified mining and metals companies. - more

  Due to the short supply caused by reduction of stainless steel, the price of China’s cold rolled stainless steel is expected to rebound from February. - more

  According to the preliminary data issued by US Census Bureau, US stainless steel imports dropped from 75,300 tons in October to 73,725 tons in November, a 2 percent down. - more

  Prices of both steel hot-rolled coil and steel cold-rolled coil in the US market increased sharply Thursday, based on a smattering of transactions reported since late last Friday. - more

  China produced 7,671 tons of refined nickel in November, the lowest monthly production level this year but still up 14.88% YOY, the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association (CNMIA) said Wednesday.

  Chinese National Development & Reform Commission announced that China has eliminated 29.4 million tonnes of outdated iron smelting capacity and 15.21 million tonnes of outdated steel smelting capacity by the end of November 2007. - more

  The Central Government of China has supplemented as of the 19th of December two molybdenum producers to the approved molybdenum exporters, having totaled to 34 Chinese companies as the producers admitted by the Government to export molybdenum products from China. - more

  CVRD Inco has confirmed a new ore resource that could add almost 30 years to the 104-year old Creighton Mine in Lively, Ontario and approximately $800 million to the local economy if it is brought into production. - more

  Inspectors from the Russian Technical Control Authority (Rostekhnadzor) confirm that mining and metallurgy major Norilsk Nickel will be forced to pay more for its extensive pollution. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory/overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 762 tons = 47,946 tonnes (1.54% - 738 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 47,208 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 237000-247000 RMB/t, minus 1500 (charts)
Thursday, Dec 27
  Afternoon Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.25/lb 3 month buyer - $12.38/lb (18.1% lower than 1/1/07)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 93 to 9,143. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 60 tonnes into Gothenburg, Netherlands warehouse, minus 30 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 155 tonnes from Singapore warehouse
  • Nickel spent much of the morning moving nowhere, and then shot up by nearly $800/tonne in early afternoon trading. The rest of the afternoon, it spent retreating. It finished the day slightly up at $12.28/lb ($27,075/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  The current slowdown set to spill over into the new year. While the first half of 2008 is expected to remain subdued for base metals globally, prices are likely to pick up in the second half. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indications at 7:55 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.15/lb but sliding. After rising earlier by nearly $800/tonne, nickel traders have apparently lost momentum. If predictions by analysts prove true, the next four weeks of trading could be very volatile, with major up and down price swings. In the mean time, stainless steel production in China continues to take a hit, with production cuts of 40% announced thru January.   
  • Bloomberg - more

  Behre Dolbear's Weekly Newsletter for the Mining Industry - pdf here

  ThyssenKrupp. Sales Force Briefing ThyssenKrupp, December 2007 - 39 page pdf here (submitted by CO)

  Sprott Asset Management Molybdenum Market Outlook December 2007 - pdf here (submitted by CO)  also Barron's - Talk To An Expert: The Case for Resources and Molybdenum, by Eric Sprott & Maria Smirnova - pdf here

  Steel wire rod prices continued to creep upward in December to a marketplace average of $593, up 19% for the year, but still a little below the $600 sought by such mills as Keystone Steel &Wire in Peoria, Ill.; Gerdau Ameristeel in Tampa, and ArcelorMittal Long Carbon North America in Chicago. - more

  Universal Stainless & Alloy Products Inc. on Wednesday named Dennis M. Oates president and CEO, replacing Clarence McAninch, who will remain chairman. - more

  Chinese media briefs - China imports 9,812 tons of refined nickel in November, down 6.9%YOY / China will close down and eliminate an accumulated 49.31 million of iron smelting capacity and 36.1 million tons of steel production capacity by 2010, announced the National Development and Reform Commission on Dec. 27. A total of 573 iron and steel enterprises will be involved.

  12/24 - Baltic Dry Index - minus 93 to 9143 

  China will raise export tariffs on various steel products effective January 1, 2008, in a bid to control exports from energy-intensive, high polluting industries, the country's Ministry of Finance said in a statement on its website Thursday.- more

  LME nickel inventory/overnight Shanghai ending price

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 126 tons = 47,184 tonnes (2.03% - 960 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,224 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 240000-247000 RMB/t, plus 2000 (charts)
Holiday Weekend Review
  Molybdenum Market Outlook by Mark Wilson from Thompson Creek Metals - contains good market info - pdf here  (submitted by CO)

  Do people really care which company dug up the iron ore that was used to make their dental braces, trumpets, or the Ferris wheels they love to ride? - more

  Japanese stainless steel output at the main 7 steelmakers in November was 486,600 tons, increasing by 5.4% over last month. The crude steel output was 198 million tons from January to November, increasing by 3.4% than the same time of last year. And stainless steel crude steel output increased by 2.2% over the same time of last year.

  China's major stainless steel mills have agreed to cut production in January by 40 percent in an effort to stabilize stainless steel prices, an official with a stainless steel mill told Interfax today. - more

  Preliminary figures released by the International Stainless Steel Forum show that stainless steel crude steel production in the first three quarters of 2007 was by 20.9 million tonnes up by 0.4%YoY. Total production for the first nine months of 2007 is just 90,000 tonnes higher than for the same period of 2006. - more

  SMM Weekly Forecast - in the weekly poll of Chinese metal analysts, 29 responded this week. Of those, 21 (72%) felt the price of nickel would rise this week, while the remaining 8 (27%) felt the price of nickel would stay the same. Suprisingly, none felt the price would fall during the remainder of 2007 trading.

  12/26 - Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 238000-245000 RMB/t, plus 2500 (charts)

  Background on Rusal Aluminum and its owner - just about guaranteeing more drama to come from the Russian metals industry and Norilsk Nickel in 2008 - here here here search for more

  12/25 - Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 235000-243000 RMB/t, plus 2000 (charts)

  12/24 - Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 233000-241000 RMB/t, plus 1750 (charts)

  (excerpt) "So you're convinced that commodities still have a long way to go? Absolutely. There will be corrections, of course. Nickel is correcting right now. But the commodities bull market still has years to go." - more

  Copyright/courtesy TNN - " Mr Chatterjee says: “Copper prices are likely to remain range-bound in the short term despite signs of easing economic concerns in US and recovering Chinese demand due to lower prices. Zinc and Nickel prices are expected to be extremely volatile in January 2008 due to restructuring of Dow Jones Commodity Index and one could see sharp price fluctuations in due course.”.... Zinc in the DJ AIG Commodity Index will next year account for more than 3% of the allocation, up from 1.4% as calculated at current prices. Nickel will rise to 2.8% from 1.7%. If prices rise between now and January 8, the amount of nickel and zinc that the index needs to buy will be lower..... According to Angel Commodity Broking’s Harmit Virvadia: “2008 will begin on an average note for nickel and prices could range between $25,000 and $35,000. European demand could pick up. As far as copper goes, we are bearish for the first two months. After March, it will have to be seen how much copper China re-stocks. Zinc continues to look bearish.”

   Chinese commentary - "This week, the ferrochrome market was stable....In domestic market, since cost of ferrochrome production did not decrease and price of chrome ore did not slide, it is impossible for ferrochrome price to fall. Currently, stainless steel industry is weak due to the decrease in nickel price. However, influenced by the booming ferrochrome market demand abroad, domestic ferrochrome price should stay high for some time."

  Metals prices have fallen substantially in the past few weeks despite inventories that are mostly near-all time lows. These developments appear to be proving right those who predicted that this is just the beginning and the U.S. will slip into a recession or worse, says Octagon Capital’s Hendrik Visagie. - more

  The following are tables of import and export data for copper, nickel, aluminum, alumina, bauxite, lead, zinc, tin, and antimony as well as the leading importing and exporting countries in November and from January to November. (All figures in metric tons unless otherwise stated.) - more

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "After taking its main underground crusher out of service for mechanical problems for one week in December, First Nickel Inc. lowered its year-end production view to about 125,000 metric tons, or about 3.3 million pounds of payable nickel. In September, First Nickel projected year-end production of 136,000 tons or about 3.9 million pounds of payable nickel. The company said the outage won't affect its production plans in 2008."

  Times have never been better for the mining industry. Driven by insatiable demand from an industrialising China, the industry is awash in unprecedented billions. Yet the flip side of the boom is that every nook and cranny of the infrastructure, after years of under-investment, is groaning under the strain of the round-the-clock race to dig up everything from iron ore to coal to gold and diamonds destined for ports around the world. - more

  Snapshot - "ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel company, has announced the acquisition of Cínter S.A., an important stainless steel tube producer located in Uruguay. The purchase forms part of the strategy of ArcelorMittal to strengthen its stainless steel business in South America." - more

  "Japan's Fair Trade Commission, worried about a BHP Billiton takeover of Rio Tinto, has begun talks with counterparts in Europe and Australia about a possible investigation, the Asahi newspaper reported on Saturday." - more

  Opponents of a new nickel and copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula that won approval from state environmental regulators are taking steps to halt the project. - more

  China has sanctioned state-owned companies to examine three possible strategies to block BHP Billiton's proposed takeover of mining giant Rio Tinto, a report said Monday. - more

  Oleg Deripaska's United Company RusAl on Friday won its battle to grab a 25 percent blocking stake in Norilsk Nickel, the first step toward acquiring control of the company. - more

  China has expressed its keenness to enter into long-term iron ore contracts with Indian suppliers in a bid to offset soaring prices of the mineral caused by rising ocean freight and surging oil prices. - more

  The much-awaited National Mineral Policy is unlikely to address the contentious issue of banning iron ore exports with the Mines Ministry putting the onus of taking a decision on finance and commerce ministries. - more

  Flat-rolled steel prices will need to increase by $110/mt during 2008 to cover the expected escalation in steelmaking costs -- compared to an estimate of $60-65/mt only a few weeks ago -- according to an ArcelorMittal commercial executive, in an interview with Platts. - more

  Call it steelflation. That's the story in the US steel market in recent days. One major East Coast trader likened current business activity to stagflation. "Steel product prices are rising in the US, but demand is weak throughout the supply chain and business is stagnant," he said, "that's stagflation." - more

  After the announcement by Chinese government of further tightening of steel exports starting from January 1st 2007, China Iron & Steel Association has predicted that Chinese steel exports are likely to fall by 20 million tonnes in 2008. - more

Friday, December 21
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.02/lb 3 month buyer - $12.18/lb (19.4% lower than 1/1/07)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 156 to 9,236. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 96 tonnes into Baltimore, MD, USA warehouse, minus 216 tonnes from Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse
  • Last week the market treated the $26,000/tonne level as if it were resistance/support, and today it was the $27,000/tonne level. Not sure what the market got all bullish about, but the price of nickel is up on the week. With only two trading days left, three month nickel ended the day and week at $12.20/lb ($26,900/tonne)  
  • Closing Metals Report - more
  • Have a restful weekend and a great holiday! We will leave you with a bunch of comedy routine's with ventriloquist Jeff Dunham. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 and Ahmed - The Dead Terrorist
  • And here is what your neighbor might be planning to do to you next Christmas - here  Merry Christmas to you all!!

  Molybdenum is used in stainless steel and alloys for its strength, hardness and corrosion resistance properties. It also has uses in the chemicals industry, with a major use being pipelines and drilling tubes for the oil and gas business due to its unique properties. Three countries account for almost 80% of global supply, principally the USA, followed by Chile with 25% and China with 20%. The Molybdenum price historically has averaged around US$10/lb since 1950, in real dollar terms. Current demand is estimated at around 440mlbs, with demand predictions varying from 4%pa growth to 7%pa growth. Should strong steel demand continue, provided molybdenum usage keeps pace, then the price could well hold up well above the historical average.....A recent analysis (Loensby, 2007) forecast that an additional 100mlbs will be required in the next five years, based on assumed high growth in demand, however over 300mlbs is classified with potential to come onto the market by 2014. Clearly there is a first mover advantage here, and those companies who are already into construction or due to commence soon will benefit most. - more

  The State Commission on the stocks of minerals Rosnedra in December 2007 approved the stocks belonging to the "Bugdainskoe" deposit located in the Chita region, currently licensed to Norilsk Nickel. Stock deposits approved by category b + C1 at: ore - 436.2 million tonnes of molybdenum - 347.5 thousand tonnes of gold - 11.2 tonnes of silver - 193.5 tonnes of lead. For C2 - 376.3 million tonnes of molybdenum .

  Morning Indicator (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.29/lb . The media appears to be giving plenty of attention and space to the analysts and forecasters who have now officially determined that the sub-prime issue is a nightmare of the past, and that all will be well in 2008. We aren't buying into that theory, anymore than an overnight dip of 120 tons of nickel in LME warehouses, somehow erases the few thousand tonnes that have been gained over the last few weeks. Maybe it's that magical $26,000/tonne level again that has driven the price of nickel up this morning, or should we say, $27,000/tonne now? 
  • Bloomberg - more
  • Reuters - more
  • AFX - more

  After a solid start, stainless steel production collapsed during the latter part of 2007. The catalyst was a significant drop in the LME nickel price. - more

  Interros general director Andrey Klishas told journalists his holding company will not purchase a 25 pct plus one share stake in mining giant JSC MMC Norilsk Nickel from Mikhail Prokhorov's Onexim Group, Interfax reported. - more (and) Russia's United Company RUSAL will buy a strategic stake in Norilsk Nickel from Mikhail Prokhorov's Onexim Group as it seeks to build a globally competitive Russian metals and mining major. - more (and) Vladimir Potanin, billionaire and co-owner of Norilsk Nickel, says he will not buy his partner Mikhail Prokhorov's 25% stake in the company. - more

  Preliminary figures released by the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) show that stainless steel crude steel production in the first three quarters of 2007 was by 20.9 million metric tons (mmt). This is just 0.4% higher than for the first nine months of 2006. Total production for the first nine months of 2007 is just 90,000 tons higher than for the same period of 2006. - more

  Interfax - China will lift the export tax on steel products on Jan. 1 next year, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) announced today. - more

  Sumitomo Metal Industries, Ltd. has decided to raise the domestic price of seamless stainless steel pipes. - more

  The price of South African charge chrome for shipments in the next quarter ( January - March of 2008 ) is in the direction of being settled in an early stage by a rise of 21 US-Cents per lb. of Cr. Samancor Chrome has already conducted a grand campaign by emphasizing the necessity to rise price of charge chrome by more than 30 US-Cents per lb. - more

  The International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies have joined forces to undertake a pilot study into the current applications for stainless steel. In 2006, more than 28 million metric tons (mmt) of stainless steel were produced. The study aims to find out what it was used to make. - more

  Metals service centers’ shipments of steel and aluminum declined in November, according to the Metals Service Center Institute’s monthly survey of its members, and inventory levels continued the decline they have pursued through most of 2007. The Institute indicated that its members are reluctant to restock and have delayed most new orders until seasonally low demand subsides. - more

  Sinosteel Corporation has acquired 67 percent stake in Zimbabwe's leading ferrochrome producer and exporter Zimasco Holdings for an undisclosed amount, becoming the majority shareholder, A Zimbabwean newspaper said on Thursday. - more

  World crude steel production for the 67 countries reporting to the International Iron and Steel Institute was 109 million tonnes in November 2007 up by 4% YoY as compared to November 2006. Total world production is 1211 million tonnes for the first eleven months of 2007 up by 7.7% YoY over the same period of 2006. - more

  Resources-poor Japan will use its foreign aid to help private firms win rights to industrial materials in Africa as it competes with giant neighbour China for limited supply, the government said Friday. - more

  Today's beginning nickel inventory

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 120 tons = 47,310 tonnes (2.09% - 990 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,320 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 230500-240000 RMB/t, minus 750 (charts)
Thursday, December 20
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $11.91/lb 3 month buyer - $12.09/lb (20% lower than 1/1/07)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 199 to 9,392. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 240 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 66 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 156 tonnes from Singapore warehouse
  • Nickel continued its bullish trend from yesterday early, then the motor sputtered to a stop and the market fell. Climbing as high as $27.250/tonne at one point, the market slid by nearly $1000/tonne, then recovered some. For the day, three month nickel ended at $11.95/lb ($26,350/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Preliminary figures released by the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) show that stainless steel crude steel production in the first three quarters of 2007 was by 20.9 million metric tons (mmt). This is just 0.4% higher than for the first nine months of 2006. Total production for the first nine months of 2007 is just 90,000 tons higher than for the same period of 2006. - more

  Stainless and Heat Resisting Steel Crude Steel Production (Ingot/Slab Equivalent) - table here

  Russia's largest miner, Norilsk Nickel, is poised to slip out of the hands of Russian steel billionaire Vladimir Potanin, and into the clutches of the Kremlin. - more  OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, Russia's biggest mining company, rose for a third day in London trading as investors bet billionaire Oleg Deripaska will acquire a stake and eventually make a takeover bid. - more

  Morning Indicator (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indications at 7:40 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.01/lb . When reading the wires this morning, we were a little surprised to see nickel reportedly selling up, after China announced 40% cuts in stainless production thru January (see Rusmet article below). A 40% cut isn't exactly bullish, in fact, it's down right bearish. But when checking on LME trading for the day, nickel had risen earlier in the session to around $27,250/tonne, but has since nose-dived back to just a tad below where it started.
  • Bloomberg - more
  • Reuters - more

  Damstahl Stainless Steel Report - December 2007 - pdf here

  The stainless steel base price in EU and USA may stay at a steady level for next few months till summer due to mills’ increasing demand and the stock supplementing at distributors.- more

  Chinese stainless mills are planning to slash production by 40 percent and drop prices at the start of 2008 to prop up a limp market, according to market participants. - more

  The People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, today announced that it will raise interest rates by 27 basis points on Dec. 21, marking the sixth rise in interest rates since the start of this year.

  The market tendency by item on imports of ferro-alloys into Japan at the 14th December of 2007 is as follows - more

  China announces mandatory energy consumption quota's on various industries effective June 1, 2008 including the following - crude steel production, coal fire generated electricity, copper smelting, zinc smelting, lead smelting, and nickel smelting.  (source)

  (excerpt) The problems under investigation, several yard workers told the Daily Press, were caused by pipe fitters who tacked pipes together using the nickel-copper compound instead of stronger stainless steel filler prescribed for the job. - more

  The year 2007 has been a roller-coaster ride for base metals. While the beginning of the year saw metals ride a bullish wave, the second half of the year spelt a lull with the sub-prime concerns and housing market recession in the US taking markets by storm. - more

  Courtesy Dow Jones - "LCH.Clearnet, which clears trades for the London Metal Exchange, has lowered its initial margins for nickel and lead, as well as for North American aluminum alloy, or NASAAC, the London-based clearing house said Wednesday.   For nickel, initial margins fell from $21,000 a lot to $18,786/lot, while initial margins for lead were cut to $9,325/lot from $10,000/lot."

  World crude steel production for the 67 countries reporting to the International Iron and Steel Institute was 109.0 million metric tons (mmt) in November. - more  (China, the world's largest steelmaker, produced 36.4 % of global crude steel in November)

  Today's beginning nickel inventory

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 18 tons = 47,430 tonnes (2.21% - 1050 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,380 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 232000-240000 RMB/t, plus 1000 (charts)
Wednesday, December 19
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $11.78/lb 3 month buyer - $11.88/lb (21.3% lower than 1/1/07)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 160 to 9,591. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 498 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 24 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 18 tonnes from Singapore warehouse
  • After a quiet morning session, that saw nickel in the green by a slim margin, nickel fell below the - yes, you guessed it, $26,000 tonne mark for a moment, then took off. As in going green. Since we aren't in London, and saw nothing in the news to justify any jump like this, we would guess that this is another one of those 'technical' buys - a nice way of saying we really have no idea why, but the computers told traders they should buy. And since everyone seems to agree that the fundamentals were, are, and look to be dismal, this would probably mean traders can't make money unless the market moves one way or the other - so today they decided to take it up. Guess what that means in the coming days? Three month nickel ended the day at $12.10/lb  ($26,675/tonne) 
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  The World Bureau of Metal Statistics reported worldwide nickel in  a 5.7kt surplus for the first 10 months of 2007. Here is a summary of some of their reports this year. For February, WBMS reported the 12th consecutive month of a deficit market, at 19kt for Jan and Feb '07. For Jan thru May, the figure was lowered to a 8.7kt deficit. Jan thru June, 2.6kt deficit. Jan thru July, up to 13kt deficit. WBMS began to count low grade ferronickel shipping into China (pig nickel) in August.  And for Jan thru August, they raised the deficit to 14kt. And January thru September, a tiny surplus was recorded. In the mean time, inventories stored in LME warehouses have gone from the 3-4,000/tonne range in Feb/March 2007, to 36,000/tonnes at the end of October.  

  OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel investors Mikhail Prokhorov and Vladimir Potanin agreed to sell 24.5 billion rubles ($990 million) of their jointly held shares in the world's biggest nickel miner. - more

  Did you see that the annual negotiations for the contract iron ore price began this week in Shanghai? In the blue corner are the big three: BHP, Rio, and Vale. They represent 70% of the sea-borne iron ore supply. - more

  Producer's Soaring Raw Material Costs Driving Global Steel Prices Higher - more

  Morning Indicator (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.28/lb . Copyright Bloomberg " Nickel gained on speculation stainless-steel makers, the biggest users, may rebuild their depleted inventories after prices dropped by half since May. ...ArcelorMittal Chief Executive Officer Lakshmi Mittal said last month that producers of stainless steel were using their own inventories, or ``destocking'' after nickel prices plunged....Nickel ``won't rally because you've still got a lot of inventories in the system. Destocking in stainless steel seems to be coming to an end,'' Keen said. ''- comment - We went thru this speculation period before - if you look at any annual price graph for nickel, you will see traders 'guessed' stainless producers were going to start buying starting in mid September, and giving up in mid November. Stainless Steel World ran a story this morning announcing "Zhejiang Yougjin Stainless Co. will lift up 60% of its capacity of cold rolled stainless precision strip to 50,000 tpy in 2008. ...Zhejiang has doubled the capacity of cold rolled stainless strip to 30,000 tpy in 2007" While the article stated the factory was expanding its capacity, not its production, apparently the market will take whatever they can get. We don't expect this little rally to last.
  • Bloomberg - more
  • Reuters -  more

  World Bureau of Metal Statistics - January to October 2007 Metals Balances - pdf here

  Copyright/courtesy Scotia Capital China Update - "Laterite ore stockpiles at seven major Chinese ports reached 5.74 million tons on December 7, up 610,000 tons MOM, according to a recent Umetal survey. Over the past few months, the Chinese producers are quickly improving their know-how and technology in using laterite ore. Increasingly, the higher-grade Indonesian and New Caledonian ore is processed through electric furnaces to produce what we called basis stainless steel feed, which contains 6%-8% nickel, and low-grade ferronickel (10% to 15% nickel content). These products are suitable for 300-series stainless steel production. The majority of the lower-grade Philippines ore is still processed through blast furnaces to generate low-grade nickel pig iron containing 1.5%-1.7% nickel, which is still used for 200-series stainless steel production. Our impression is that in China, there is almost no bottleneck in using laterite ore, in terms of both supply and technology. In addition, as the technology improves, the breakeven point for using laterite ore is getting lower. In our opinion, for the higher-grade New Caledonian ore, an LME nickel price as low as US$8.50/lb can justify its use in China. For the lowest-grade Philippines ore, an LME nickel price of US$15/lb is still needed."

  Copyright/courtesy Fitch Ratings - "Demand for molybdenum, driven by pipeline projects and oil and gas drilling as well as China’s stainless steel demand, grows at about 4% annually, while production is expected to decline 5% or 20 million pounds this year on declining ore grade and maintenance shutdowns. Total global supply is estimated at 400 million pounds for 2007." (according to Fitch report, quoting Bloomberg, analyst's forecast for molybdenum is $22.50/lb median for 2008. Price drops to $20.00/lb in 2009, and $10.90/lb for 2010. )

  The global nickel market was in a surplus of 5,700 metric tons in the first ten months of the year, the World Bureau For Metal Statistics said Wednesday. - more

  It is expected that the duties to impose on imports of high carbon ferro-chrome into Japan will be completely abolished. - more

  Industrial metals including copper and aluminum have peaked and probably will decline as supplies gain in the next 12 to 18 months, Fitch Ratings said. - more

  Shares in Philippine nickel miner Oriental Peninsula rose 23 percent in the market debut of its 804 million peso ($19 million) initial public offering, the first local - more

  Indebted by almost $240 million, the Rapu-Rapu group of companies operating a copper and zinc mine in Rapu-Rapu island town in Albay will seek court protection from creditors even as it denied claims by anti-mining groups that the mine firm has gone bankrupt. - more

  Xstrata today admitted it is in talks with a potential suitor, which could conclude in an offer for the world's fifth largest mining group - more

  Today's beginning nickel inventory

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 456 tons = 47,412 tonnes (2.42% - 1146 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,266 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel -230000-240000 RMB/t, plus/minus 0 (charts)
Tuesday, December 18
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $11.63/lb 3 month buyer - $11.70/lb (22.6% lower than 1/1/07)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 97 to 9,751. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 402 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 54 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 78 tonnes from Singapore warehouse
  • Posco gave a boost to the molybdenum market by investing in a 20% stake in General Moly. We have yet to see to many predictions for moly prices into 2008, but those we have published, have put the price range at half what it currently is (which would still be 5 times higher than it was in 2001), to even higher than what it currently is. Nickel trading on the LME was mostly quiet in morning trading, only slightly up as official prices for the day were determined. Then they took a bounce, shortly after U.S. housing statistics were announced. U.S. housing starts fell again, but not nearly as bad as expected, while new permits fell to a 14 year low. The effect of housing starts, while obvious to metals such as copper, is less so for nickel. We did find some interesting statistics from the appliance industry in the U.S., reflecting the effect of the housing downturn on their industry here. Since stainless appliances were the hot item in the U.S. earlier this year and last, it makes you wonder. We learned our lesson last week, and did not call the demise to the $26,000/tonne mark again yesterday. It was a good thing, because the market again treated that mark as if it were approaching a resistance level, breaking above, then falling back, and repeating itself. For the day, three month nickel ended trading at $11.75/lb (25,900/tonne)        
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Statement of the day - "“Hindsight is always 20-20, but it’s clear the Fed should have acted earlier. Financial innovation is great, but you have to have some basic rules. One of the most basic rules is that a borrower should have the ability to repay.” from Sheila C. Bair,chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (chronology of sub prime debacle by NY Times - image here)

  Copyright/courtesy MetalTorq - "According to analysts, the reduction in prices of nickel blame rising stocks and uncertainty in maintaining economic growth worldwide. "We expect recovery in the nickel price in the middle of January or in February, when European traders will begin to order metal for the next quarter," analyst said Angel Broking. In his view, nickel resold, with no significant reason for any movement in prices as purchases for the first quarter of 2008, have been completed, while the second, has not yet begun."

  Three quarters of the 50,000 hectares surface area of Ruvubu National Park has been allocated as a mining concession through a presidential decree to the South African Company, Dun Land, granting the company mining rights to extract nickel from within protected areas. - more

  A spokesman said commissioning was on schedule to produce nickel metal at Yabulu from the West Australian Ravensthorpe mine's mixed nickel/cobalt hydroxide product during the first quarter of calendar 2008. - more

  For investors and those following the moly market closely - here is some clips from the Desjardins Materials Conference from a few weeks ago here

  Frequently asked questions about stainless steel. Why does stainless steel rust? Why is some stainless steel magnetic? Is stainless steel harmful to our health? answers here  and more on Stainless Steel - Magnetic Properties - pdf here

  Morning Indicator (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.19/lb .
  • Bloomberg - more
  • Reuters - more

  Behre Dolbear's Global Mining News - pdf here

  TD Bank Weekly Commodity Price report - pdf here

  Canada Commodity Price Update - pdf here

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "LME nickel needs to move above the $30,000 a metric ton level in order to improve the market's immediate tone, says Triland's Michael Khosrowpour. But notes there is "heavy resistance" in this area from several key mid-term moving averages, which will look to cap any advances toward this region."

  courtesy Shanghai Nonferrous Weekly Review and Forecast - "In Shanghai market, price differences between domestic produced nickel and imported nickel became larger. Imported nickel reduced their selling price to in line with the falling trend of LME nickel price, traded at RMB 232,000 from previous 240,000 per tonne, fell over 3 percent. At the same time, this week supply of imported nickel is ample and suppliers want to get cash, price might fall below RMB 230,000 per tonne. While price of Jinchuan nickel seems stronger, as its supply is limited in Shanghai market, the quotation is about RMB 240,000-242,000, but only few transactions at such high price."

  South Korea's Public Procurement Service, a state-run body that manages strategic commodities, bought 3,000 metric tons of copper cathodes and 200 tons of nickel at tenders today. - more

  According to the preliminary report from Taiwan Customs, the import of stainless steel coils and sheets in November totaled 21,791 tons, increased by 7% from last month. - more

  POSCO, the world's fourth-largest steel maker, said on Tuesday two of its units would invest $170 million in a 20 percent stake in a molybdenum mine owned by General Moly, a U.S.-based mining company. - more

  Blurb - "Japan's finance ministry is proposing abolishing the 5.37 percent import duty on high carbon ferro-chrome as stainless steel producers struggle to cope with soaring raw material costs."

  Codelco of Chile is anticipated to produce 60 million lbs. of molybdenum in molybdenum concentrates in the calendar year (January - December) of 2007, having a decline from 68 million lbs. produced in the preceding year of 2006. - more

  Publicly-listed mining company PT Aneka Tambang and China's Tsingshan Holding Group will start exploitation of nickel deposit on the island of Obi in North Maluku, a company official said. - more

  Courtesy AISI - "In the week ending December 15, 2007, domestic raw steel production was 2,057,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 86.2 percent. Production was 1,733,000 tons in the week ending December 15, 2006, while the capability utilization then was 75.0 percent. The current week production represents an 18.6 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending December 15, 2007 is down 0.3 percent from the previous week ending December 8, 2007 when production was 2,064,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 86.5 percent. Adjusted year-to-date production through December 15, 2007 was 102,351,000 tons, at a capability utilization rate of 86.0 percent. That is a 2.3 percent decrease from the 104,787,000 tons during the same period last year, when the capability utilization rate was 87.5 percent."

  Today's beginning nickel inventory

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 270 tons = 46,956 tonnes (2.07% - 972 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 45,984 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 230000-240000 RMB/t, minus 2000 (charts)
Monday, December 17
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $11.57/lb 3 month buyer - $11.68/lb (22.7% lower than 1/1/07)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 31 to 9,918. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 504 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 132 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse
  • Metals traded on the London Metal Exchange took a whooping today, across the board, and nickel must have been first in line to enter the ring, because it took the brunt. Dollar continues to gain against the Euro, adding downward pressure to already nervous traders. It's the time of year when the analysts begin to make forecasts for 2008, and give their reasons why. It's a mixed bag so far, and we keep an up-to-date list of the ones we find on our nickel forecast page here. News remains bearish and the much sought after rebound in stainless steel production, which never materialized in this quarter, may not come as soon as some had hoped, on the news that Japan’s Nippon Steel was cutting production thru the first quarter of 2008. Activity at LME warehouse's was limited to Rotterdam, which took in 372 more tons than it shipped. We are seeing others now starting to agree with our assertion that that problem in China isn't so much a slowing market, but over production and the increase in use of "pig nickel". We did report on ann article we read in China over the weekend that surprised us. At least one Chinese metals analyst is forecasting the the share of 300 series stainless in China stainless steel production will drop in China this year (not surprising), 400 series will increase (not surprising), and that the share of 200 series stainless steel will also fall (surprising). We will be curious to see if this forecast proves true, and if so, why. Zinifex Ltd., the world's third- largest zinc mining company, announced a hostile cash offer of $US669 million for Australia's Allegiance Mining, which has an agreement to supply China's Jinchuan with about $3 billion dollars worth of nickel. And in response to stockholders who felt they missed the boat on high nickel prices this year, Rio Tinto announced it would invest $300 million in a new nickel mine in the US(Michigan). We see this as a risky move by Tinto. For the day, three month nickel ended trading at  $11.63/lb ($25,650/tonne) 
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  (We get a lot of requests to post more on ferrochrome and when we can find it, we post it. Here is a forecast) The contract price for ferrochrome, a raw material used to make stainless steel, will gain 21 percent in the first quarter on higher demand and production costs, International Ferro Metals Ltd. said. - more

  Contract ferro chrome prices in Europe for the first quarter of 2008 have been set at a record of $1.21 a pound as consumers rush to secure supplies of the material used to make stainless steel, traders said on Monday. - more

  Rio Tinto Group, the mining company that BHP Billiton Ltd. wants to buy, will spend almost $1.3 billion to mine nickel for the first time and expand coal output to meet rising demand from Chinese steelmakers. - more

   Copyright/courtesy Reuters - "...Michael Lewis, at Deutsche Bank said in a report. Industrial metals were the worst performing sector, against precious metals and energy, in terms of spot price performance last week, Lewis said.".... "The metals market was still taking direction from the global equity markets, traders and analysts said. "Asian stocks were lower, hence the poorer metals," analyst Leon Westgate at Standard Bank said."..... "Today the miners will be down again because of fears of growth and the imminent cuts to consensus earnings for fourth quarter 2007 due to the current weakness in copper and nickel," analyst Jeremy Gray at Credit Suisse said in a note."

  Morning Indicator (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indications at 7:55 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.28/lb . In reference to our pondering of why $26,000/tonne seemed to be so important to LME traders last week, considering it was not a charted support or resistance level, we received an e-mail from someone who stated there is a rumor floating around that there are some rather large orders pending with US stainless steel producers, that kick in when nickel hits $25,000/tonne.
  • Bloomberg - more
  • Reuters - more

  Haywood Securities Metals & Mining Weekly - pdf here

  BMO Capital Markets - The Goods - pdf here

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "Macquarie expects demand, supply of stainless steel to recover steadily in 1H08, could rebalance nickel market. But given "chronic" overcapacity of stainless steel in China another bout of overproduction possible. Big issue for nickel is still level of new production in China from so-called nickel pig iron. "Conventional" producers still dismiss nickel pig iron as a temporary stop-gap before next wave of investment from higher-capital conventional production comes in. "This may well be true, but this will only be the case once nickel prices settle again below $6/lb in the long run."

  SMM Specialist Weekly Forecast - Of 36 metals analysts responding, 3 (8%) felt the price of nickel would rise this week, 10 (29%) felt the price of nickel would stay about the same, and 23 (63%) felt the price of nickel would fall.

  Copyright/courtesy GIFA - "As part of an on-going undertaking to deal with increasing volumes of low-priced seamless stainless steel tubing from China, the U.S. producers which comprise the Seamless Stainless Tube Trade Action Committee (SSTTAC) expressed their growing concern with the rapidly expanding Chinese presence in the U.S. market. David A. Hartquist, the SSTTAC's legal counsel, said, "As the U.S. Census Bureau's most recently released data underscore, China's exports of seamless stainless steel tubing to the United States are surging. China is now the largest foreign supplier overall of this tubing to the United States, at prices that are notably depressed. Even in categories in which it presently is not the largest supplier, such as high-nickel seamless tubing, it can be expected that China will soon overtake the current largest foreign supplier, Germany."

  THE zinc producer Zinifex has a fight on its hands in its attempt to diversify its commodity exposure through a hostile $775 million takeover bid for the soon-to-be Tasmanian nickel producer Allegiance Mining, a move that is being closely watched by China's biggest nickel producer, Jinchuan. - (more)   Zinifex Ltd. (ZFX.AU) Monday said it is still assessing possible multi-billion dollar acquisitions and will look at the assets being put up for sale by Rio Tinto Ltd. - (more)

  New Caledonia is expected to ask France for more money and for tax exemptions for the Goro Nickel project on Thursday. - more

  Japanese stainless steel output totaled 268,000 tons in October 2007, up by 3.7 percent from that of last month. - more

  Rio Tinto said Monday that it is to invest $300 million in the development of Eagle, a high-grade nickel and copper mine in Michigan, USA. - more

  Today's beginning nickel inventory

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 372 tons = 46,686 tonnes (2.00% - 936 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 45,750 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 233000-241000 RMB/t, plus 1000 (charts)
Weekend Review, December 15 & 16
  The Ramu nickel project is one of China's single largest investments not only in the country but in the Pacific and is held with high regard by the Chinese government. - more

  The term “supercycle” has been batted around the commodities world for a couple of years now. To be honest, the term just reminded me of the dot-com days when we invented new terms and valuation techniques like price-to-eyeballs that allowed us to justify valuations that we now realize were completely absurd. - more  (or) Peak oil, peak metals, and this year peak food. Every bookshop has a corner warning that mankind will soon outrun the basic resources of the globe. - more

  Brazilian mining company Vale yesterday announced the opening of its Middle East office in Oman. - more

  New Caledonian officials will ask the government for tax breaks to be extended in the Goro Nickel project being developed by Brazilian group Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD). - more (CVRD is now named Vale)

  On Thursday, Chinese media published a metals forecast from Southwest Negotiable Securities. Generally any of these reports turn out to be mere duplications of more well known metals analysts, so if this appears familiar, please let us know and we will correct the credit. In the article the author forecasts stainless steel production in China for 2007 to be as follows - 400 series stainless production will account for 29% of Chinese production, an increase of 7%, 200 series stainless production will account for 26%, a reduction of 3%, and 300 series stainless will account for 45% of China's stainless steel production, a reduction of 4%. (If true, the overall reduction in 200 series stainless steel production is surprising) The forecast goes on to give many reasons why the price if nickel will fall in 2008, mostly from the supply side angle, but ends by forecasting nickel will average $15.42/lb. Another analyst states imports of low grade laterite ore (pig nickel) is slow due to the slowdown in stainless production , high shipping costs, and high ore cost. Some importers advised they did not expect to resume shipments of nickel ore until after the Spring Festival, which begins on Feb 7, 2008.

  China's Shanxi Province reported import and export figures for November (this province only) - Stainless steel plate exports total 334,300 tons, an increase of 104.89% YOY, with an increase in value during the same period of 259.49% to $1.437 billion US dollars. Also during November, this province imported 16,300 tons of nickel, a growth rate of 230.10%, with the value amounting to $589 million US dollars, an increase of 431.72%. Chromium ore imports totalled 1.3337 million tons during November, a 33.50% increase, and an increase in value of 54.75%. Imports of manganese ore totalled 610,200 tons,  a decrease of 36.06%, although still showing an overall increase in value of $139 million US dollars, an increase of 45.67%.

  South Korea's Posco (Pohang Iron & Steel Co.) announced production cuts in stainless steel for December by 130,000 tons. Considering the annual production is approximately 2 million tons, the reduction is significant. Posco also announced it was lowering the price of stainless steel by approximately $431.60/ton effective tomorrow.

  From The Economist Intelligence Unit 'The World in 2008'...."global demand for nickel will grow by 7.4% in 2008, but the market will remain tight as output increases by only 7.3%. If Chinese demand for stainless steel is greater than expected, rationing may be necessary." (unknown when published but probably much earlier in the year) - pdf here

  Oct 7, 2007  - Jürgen Fechter Chairman of the Executive Board of ThyssenKrupp Stainless AG - "According to statistics of the industry association EUROFER, imports from Asia to Europe multiplied from around 10,000 tons per month up to mid-2006 to over 50,000 tons per month from late 2006. These high imports of stainless steel are an increasing problem for the European producers. The cause of this is the drifting apart of supply and demand due to the unbridled construction of new capacities in China. Producers there are trying to operate their mills to capacity and are offloading surplus quantities to distributors and service centers in Europe at below-cost prices. The trend reversal in the nickel price that began in early June caused stockholding distributors to reduce their high inventories as quickly as possible, which resulted in a collapse in prices and the cancellation of orders from producers. In response to this situation, most European producers sharply reduced their production, particularly in the 3rd calendar quarter. To stabilize the market the Stainless group cut back production significantly in its European plants. This cutback mainly affected the chrome-nickel grades and in the 2nd half of the fiscal year just ended amounted to around 400,000 tons of crude steel output, or almost 30% of our European capacity. Our competitors also made similar production cutbacks....We support free world trade, but not under these conditions. For this reason the European stainless producers now plan to move against imports from China." (addendum - EUROFER has since filed an anti-dumping complaint)

  Vale Inco will not be engaging in its annual maintenance shut-down in 2008. Instead, it will postpone the shut-down until May 2009, just a month before the company's contract with workers belonging to Steelworkers Local 6500 expires. - more

  Base metals, led by copper, are likely to recover this week on speculation that sporadic buying from China may bring a fresh lease of life ahead of the new year. At present, base metals are oversold and no fresh sales are being offered by stockists. - more

  Quotes from the week

  • Copyright AP - Monday, 12/10 - "China's central bank said it will raise the reserve requirement ratio for banks by a full percentage point to 14.5 percent, the highest since the mid-1980s. When banks are made to hold larger reserves, it curbs lending and can rein in business growth as a result...."This move is unambiguously bearish for LME metals: China is the one bright spot on the demand side of the base metal equation at present," said BNP Paribas analyst David Thurtell, in a report. "Another tightening - on top of nine 0.5 percent previous hikes this year - will hurt economic activity and hence metal demand."
  • Copyright Reuters - Thursday - 12/13 - "I don't think you are going to see anything significant happening in base metals now on this side of Christmas," analyst Kevin Norrish at Barclays Capital said. "People in these markets aren't prepared to take any sizable positions either way really until we get a bit more clarity about the economic outlook," he said.....Analysts said zinc and nickel are expected to experience wild price swings in January as a commodity index buys metals. Between January 8 and 14, the Dow Jones AIG commodity index .DJAIG will adjust the weighting of many commodities."

  The European Union launched an investigation yesterday into whether China is dumping steel and hurting steel makers like ArcelorMittal and ThyssenKrupp. - more

  Opinion favourable for the two authorizations to exploit deposited by Goro Nickel. But the investigators imposed two new conditions: implementation of procedures of environmental monitoring independent and constitution of guarantee funds intended to mitigate a possible failure of the owner. - translated article here

  "Companies investing in Chinese real estate or heavily polluting industries, including some foreign companies, have been told by bankers that they cannot access credit before the end of the year because of a government order to freeze lending.....Executives working at locally incorporated foreign banks said they had not received formal orders from authorities. But in quarterly meetings and regular phone conversations they have been “advised” not to lend to the real estate projects or polluting industries."

  Citigroup in their December issue of M/Metals Prospects forecast nickel prices to average $10/lb in 2008, $8/lb in 2009, $6/lb in 2010. Forecast molybdenum to average $30/lb in 2008, $20/lb in 2009, and $10/lb in 2010. Another forecast made this week include Goldman Sachs who predicted nickel prices would average $12.85/lb in 2008.    

  Arcelor Mittal, the world's largest steelmaker, announced on Wednesday that it has increased it investment by US$500 million to US$1.5 billion after it passed a vote of confidence in government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. - more

  ISM Steel Buyers Forum Monthly Survey - pdf here

  Scrap Specifications Circular 2007 - First published in 1919, ISRI's Scrap Specifications have become the universal language for scrap buyers and sellers in domestic and international trades. The online version essentially makes the specifications a "living document" that can be updated more frequently than the printed circular. - pdf here

  Copyright/courtesy Sogra - " At this point Corporation Haotyan produces 5500 tons/yr low temperature nickel and 600 t/d of high-nickel. To ensure their needs company imports about 1 billion t/y of nickel ore from the Philippines, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Has already started construction of the mill potrooms nickel production capacity of 5000 t/d, to be put into operation in August 2008. Thus, the Chinese titanium sector increases the pace of development, and plans to intensify the production of nickel in sight desire to reduce China's dependence on imports of Russian nickel and reduce its volume.

  "Let the man who seeks revenge," the old Chinese proverb warns, "remember to dig two graves." - more

  Vale Inco plans record production levels next year for its Sudbury operations, Ontario president Fred Stanford told members of the mining community Friday. - more

  Michigan will see its first new mine in decades -- a controversial copper and nickel mine in the Upper Peninsula -- after state regulators issued permits Friday. - more

  A super-large ore carrier "Brasil Maru" (327,180 dwt) of Nippon Steel Corp (NSC) was completed and launched on December 7 at Chiba Works of Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. (MES). - more

  National Mining Association Mining Weekly - pdf here

Friday, December 14 
  Daily Roundup
  • Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $11.75/lb 3 month buyer - $11.84/lb (21.6% lower than 1/1/07)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 31 to 9,918. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 600 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 168  tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 288 tonnes from Singapore warehouse, plus 66 tonnes into Gothenburg, Sweden warehouse
  • We are finding no nickel charts that are calling the $26,000/tonne level a support, or resistance level. But the market appears to be treating it as both. For days now, the market has treated it as a support level, and as soon as the price slumped below it, it would rebound. Then yesterday, when the price fell below the level and failed to rebound, the market crumpled and we announced the level had finally been beaten. Today however, the market appeared to want that number back, and after fish-tailing around where it opened for most of the morning, the price got enthusiastic and headed back towards the 26 mark. Upon breaking it, the trading price retreated, climbed over, retreated, then climbed over again. It was like watching the market try to punch thru a resistance level. We are not sure what the significance of this $26,000 level is, but the market has apparently placed some importance in it - at least for this week. Three month nickel ended the day and week at $12.00/lb ($26,450/tonne)   
  • Closing Metals Report - more
  • Weekend update is questionableas we are expecting a snow storm and our sole access to the internet, will be HughesNet Satellite, which offers poor service in the best of weather. So we expect to lose access to the internet as soon as the first flake appears. We wish you all a restful and safe weekend!!

Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "LME nickel is looking very resilient despite the spate of bearish news affecting the market, says JP Morgan analyst Michael Jansen. Notes further stainless production cuts and rising LME inventories are weighing on sentiment, leaving it likely that a more convincing test of $25,000 a metric ton support is pending. But adds the nickel market is "exceptionally" short, which will provide some support. "

  China domestic prices over last few months - Foshan, China courtesy Rusmet. (CR 304 2B 2 mm)

  • Sept 07 - 35000 - 35300 RMB/ton
  • Oct 07 - 32900 - 33000 RMB/ton
  • Nov 07 - 32800 - 33000 RMB/ton
  • Dec 07 - 31200 - 31400 RMB/ton
  • Jan 08 - 30500 - 31000 RMB/ton

  Morning Indicator (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indications at 7:55 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.18/lb . Apparently our statement yesterday that traders had given up trying to hold onto the $26,000/tonne floor was premature, as that is where the price of nickel is currently at, as we go to press this morning.
  • Bloomberg - more

  Courtesy Dow Jones - "South Korea's Hyundai Steel Co. Wednesday resumed production of stainless steel at its Incheon plant, the company said in a regulatory filing. Hyundai, the country's second-largest steelmaker by sales after Posco, said earlier this month that it was suspending production for nine days to keep inventories down."

  Copyright/courtesy Associated Press - "The European Union launched an investigation Friday into whether China is illegally selling steel at prices so low they are hurting European steelmakers such as ArcelorMittal and ThyssenKrupp AG. Steel producers complained in October, asking for a 40 percent surcharge on soaring imports of two types of steel and claiming that China's output was "out of control."

  Blurb - "Ji'en Nickel Industry Co. Ltd., a Shanghai-listed nickel salt producer, is currently in talks with a Canadian mining company to develop nickel resources in Canada, a company official told Interfax today."

  Demand concerns and rising supply have convinced Goldman Sachs commodity analysts to forecast a "retrenchment in commodity prices from recent highs, which has already largely occurred." - more

  POSCO, the world's fourth-largest steel maker, has started to reduce stainless steel output again in early December, responding to slower demand, company officials said on Friday. - more  and another

   It has become remarkable that price of nickel-based stainless steel scrap ( new clippings ) has weakened. - more

  Brazil's Vale, the world's largest iron ore producer, has declared force majeure on some iron ore cargoes destined for China, iron ore traders said, helping lift the spot price of the raw material to a new record. - more

  China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced that China's November productions of pig iron, crude steel and finished steel products hit 39.91 million tonnes, 39.69 million tonnes and 47.68 million tonnes respectively up by 10.4%YoY, 4.3%YoY and 12.7%YoY from a year earlier. - more

  Officials in New Caledonia will ask the government for tax breaks to be extended in the Goro Nickel project being developed by Brazilian group Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD) so that they can maintain a 10 pct stake in the project. - more

  Last Friday, increased the new record along with the stock on hand price of a little bit high, the chrome iron produced company's shot ground the rumor of the market condition of the market in Asia fall." - poorly translated article here

  The mining boom that Botswana is experiencing will add the much needed value to the economy. Speaking in an interview, an independent economic consultant, Dr Keith Jefferies noted that diversification within mineral economies leads to promotion and exploitation of different minerals in a situation where an economy is highly dependent on a single commodity such as diamonds. - more

  Papua New Guinea’s multi-billion kina mining industry is continuing to be the backbone of a strengthened economy, Kina Securities Ltd chief executive Syd Yates said yesterday. - more

  Word is expected tomorrow (Friday) on the state's decision about whether to allow a proposed nickel and copper mine in the Upper Peninsula.  - more

  Mick Davis has been guided by two beliefs since he became CEO of a mishmash of second-rate mining properties called Xstrata PLC in 2001. The first was that commodities were on the verge of a "stronger for longer" - his words - price cycle. The second was that a small number of supergiants would emerge from an unflagging round of buying and selling. - more

  Today's beginning nickel inventory

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 210 tons = 46,314 tonnes (2.27% - 1050 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 45,264 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 232000-240000 RMB/t, minus 1500 (charts)
Thursday, December 13 
  Daily Roundup
  • Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $11.63/lb 3 month buyer - $11.75/lb (22.28% lower than 1/1/07)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 13 to 9,949. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 714 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 96 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 594 tonnes from Singapore warehouse, minus 18 tonnes from Baltimore, MD, USA warehouse
  • For the nickel bulls, there really hasn't been much to smile about lately. So we scoured the web and found something that might give you hope. When three month nickel peaked earlier this year, it hit $23.50/lb. Today, the official price is exactly half of that amount. So, is there life after you shave off half the price? Here is a video that might...just might give you hope. Video here  Sorry, that's as good as we can do for the bulls. The reality of the day was markets spent most of the morning doing nothing, before sliding into the cellar during the afternoon. Apparently an influx of only 6 tonnes wasn't enough to defeat the bearish sentiment, and traders appeared to have finally given up trying to hold on to the $26,000/tonne mark. Price of three month nickel closed the day at  $11.61/lb ($25,600/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Reuters - Demand, rate-cut worries dog metals - more  

  Base metals fall on gloomy economic outlook - more

  Monthly Molybdenum Report - pdf here

  BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Anglo American, Xstrata and CVRD – all names that have been involved in either announced or rumoured mining deals recently. - more

  With just a month to go, RK Capital Management’s disastrous 2007 got a lot worse. The hedge fund’s flagship Red Kite Metals fund, fell 22% in November, and is down 50% year-to-date. - more

  Morning Indicator (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.16/lb . Market is still struggling with that $26,000/tonne mark, as price have slipped below it, but appear to be trying to crawl back over. Only 6 tonnes of inventory overnight, but sentiment remains negative.
  • Bloomberg - more
  • Guardian - more

  Standard Bank Weekly Commodity Research - pdf here

  Zinc and nickel are expected to experience wild price swings in January as a commodity index buys the metals, prompting increasing levels of speculation. - more

  US Stainless steel imports volume - by country - here

  The three provinces have today only 5 % of the capital of Goro Nickel. A situation described as "temporary" by the communities, which are all in the same way in the search of 12 billion franks. - translated article here

  It has become remarkable that price of nickel-based stainless steel scrap ( new clippings ) has weakened. - more

  It is reported that China is likely to impose steel export quotas in 2008 as part of ongoing efforts to control overheated investment in the sector. - more

  China's industrial output growth slowed in November to register the second straight month of decline in the expansion rate, according to statistics released by the government Thursday. - more

  It is a near Eramet who says, "The sale of the group, is a kind of time bomb. But the mechanism is triggered, and this makes tic-tac, tic-tac. - translated article here

  Xstrata, the world's biggest supplier of coal for power plants, said Wednesday that it was in talks with various parties that could lead to a merger with another company - more

  Today's beginning nickel inventory

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 6 tons = 46,104 tonnes (3.07% - 1416 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 44,688 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 235000-240000 RMB/t, minus 3000 (charts)
Wednesday, December 12
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $11.57/lb 3 month buyer - $11.75/lb (22.2% lower than 1/1/07)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 7 to 9,936. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 690 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 36 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 36 tonnes from Baltimore, MD, USA warehouse
  • No matter what else happened in the market today, which wasn't much, adding another 618 tonnes of nickel to already bulging LME warehouses, was bound to foul the mood of traders. Market opened about $300/tonne lower than it closed last night, slipped below $26,000/tonne by nearly $200, then fought its way back over that mark. MF Global puts support at $24,900/tonne ($11.29/lb), but traders are acting like the $26,000/tonne or $11.79/lb has become a psychological threshold, and falling below it is really making them nervous. For the day, three month nickel ended the day at $11.88/lb ($26,200/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Nonferrous metallurgy is one of the most important industries for the Russian economy. It is probably the only area in which the country determines the world market situation. - more

  News Clips

  • Taiwan's Yieh United Steel Corp has introduced a new stainless steel grade, YU445, to its line. The slogan going around? "Nickel-free means trouble-free"
  • Chinese media is reporting  the price for SUS304 5.5-32mm in the Taiwan market is around USD4178-4271/mt, down by USD464/mt compared November.
  • Chinese media reports South Korea is considering adopting anti-dumping measures against mainland China and Taiwan on stainless steel.
  • China metals analyst blames slump in nickel price on stainless steel producers switch to production of 200 series stainless, and 'pig nickel' imports. Does admit if nickel continues to drop, it could get interesting, as 'pig nickel' is expensive to process.
  • Russia initiates a "special protective investigation with respect to increased imports of stainless pipes in the customs territory of the Russian Federation" from all foreign sources, with emphasis on the EU, China and Ukraine.
  • BHP CEO Kloppers, while defending his offer for Rio Tinto, again mentions his company is studying the possibility of doubling output at its ferronickel mine at Cerro Matoso, Columbia (we first reported late last year)
  • U.S. nickel exports fell 28.0% in October from the previous month, but was up 52.2% from the previous year, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. U.S. nickel imports fell 3.5% in October from last month, but was up 2.9% from the previous year.

  Blog - I couldn’t get a straight answer from the provincial government how it plans to deal with Narra Nickel in light of its numerous ECC violations and I pity Engr. Andro Baguyo who, as a mere technical errand boy of the Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board, was left alone to parry my questions and the criticisms against the province on its handling of mining projects. - more

  Nickel fell the most in a week on concern that demand in China and Japan, the world's largest consumers of the stainless-steel ingredient, may take months to recover. Copper and lead also dropped. - more

  Morning Indicator (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indications at 7:55 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.41/lb . Another 618 tonnes into LME warehouses and the price of nickel is reacting accordingly. Total inventories just passed the 45,000 tonne mark a few days ago, but if they continue to grow as they have the last few, we could see the 50,000 tonne mark reached by the end of the year. If this news didn't sour traders enough, it appears the market is reacting strongly about the news from the States that the Fed only cut rated by 25 basic points.
  • Bloomberg - more
  • CNN - more
  • Forbes - more

  Reuters Metal Weekly - pdf here

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "Nickel pig iron has likely saturated the low end of the nickel market, previously dominated by scrap, and continues to face difficulties in moving into the higher end of the market due to costs, says Goldman Sachs. Notes the expense associated with processing and purifying material to the quality required for high-grade stainless steel production. This means supplies of nickel will tighten as '08 progresses, Goldman Sachs adds."

  Couple of good presentations made at the LME Metals Seminar 2007 in October - Nickel, Tin, Zinc and Lead: Paul Robinson, Group Manager - Non-ferrous Metals, CRU Group - pdf here  and China: The Sustainability of Economic Growth: Martin Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times - pdf here

  (from Chinese media) "Starting from this month, imports of nickel ores, cobalt ores, antimony ores and concentrates can enjoy preferential taxation policies" (similar to that which has been in place for gold ore since 2003, according to the article) " In the first eleven months, imports of nickel ore into Rizhao Port broke 8.6 million tons, an increase of 865.1%, becoming the country's largest transit trade imports nickel base with 70% of the nation's total nickel ore imports."

  Iron producing (in all its forms) is expected to rise from 934 million tonnes in 2006 to 1224 million tonnes in 2011 - an increase of 31 percent. This is good news for iron ore mining companies. - more

  HIGH-CARBON ferrochrome producer Zimasco has said it will not switch off its furnaces at the end of this month due to declining chrome ore stock levels as feared. - more

  Mining group Xstrata XTA.L confirmed on Wednesday it has held initial talks about a possible takeover following a wave of rumours, but it said no proposals resulted from the discussions. - more

  Put together a falling US dollar and rosy growth forecasts from China and what do you get? If you guessed higher commodity prices, you get a gold star. Yet among the institutions, there’s mixed opinion about what metals prices will go up (or down) in 2008. - more

  The president of an international trade association, representing leading food equipment manufacturers (in a particular field) has sent us a request. They are trying to locate a qualified and knowledgeable speaker on the metal market, and in particular, stainless steel, for a meeting to be held in a major Midwestern city on March 2nd, 2008. This is an wonderful opportunity to speak directly to the owners of food equipment manufacturers, who use a substantial amount of stainless steel on an annual basis. If you are qualified and interested, please e-mail us and we will pass on your contact information.  E-mail us 

  Today's beginning nickel inventory

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 618 tons = 46,098 tonnes (4.11% - 1896 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 44,202 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 238000-243000 RMB/t, plus/minus 0 (charts)
Tuesday, December 11  
Daily reports -
 Platt's  /   UBS  /  MF Global  /  BNP  /  Metals Insider  /  Macquarie  /  Commonwealth
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $11.79/lb 3 month buyer - $11.84/lb 11.6% lower than 1/1/07)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 63 to 9,929. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 600 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 102 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 18 tonnes from Busan, South Korea warehouse, minus 12 tonnes from Singapore warehouse
  • Nickel started out without much activity, before it began to slide. As it touched the $26,000/tonne mark, traders began to buy. By early afternoon, the price of nickel had risen back into the green zone, and kept climbing for much of the remainder of the day. For Tuesday, three month nickel closed at $12.11/lb ($26,700/tonne) 
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Global nickel prices have tumbled approximately 22% since mid-November this year, aided by slowing demand from China, the world's largest stainless steel producer, industry insiders told Interfax today. - more

  Sandmeyer Steel Company has added LDX 2101 (UNS-S-32101, EN1.4162) to its extensive line of corrosion resistant stainless steel and nickel alloy plate and plate products. - more (this report came out earlier today, but has since been withdrawn. But not before this reader posted it on an investor site - nothing on Sandmeyer's website showing it's an official release)

  (Thanks to a contributing reader from India - few months old but good info) Jindal Stainless Corporate Presentation October 2007 - pdf here  (Jindal is the largest integrated stainless steel mfg in India and largest producer of 200 series stainless in the world) (note from their website - "In the Indian market, over 70% of stainless steel consumption happens in 200 series. In China the present consumption is around 20%. It is the fastest growing grade in the world market having a share of over 10% in overall Stainless Steel consumption.")

  Overall, 2007 has been a good year for commodities. However, base metals have performed weakly, with lead virtually the lone star performer. For 2008, Andreas Hoefert Analyst, UBS Financial Services expects base metal prices to consolidate further. - more

  Morning Indicator (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.04/lb . Nickel price up slightly, in a recoil mode after slipping below the 26,000/tonne level earlier. All eyes turn to the States to see what the Fed will do about interest rates. Market is betting on a 1/4 point cut.
  • Bloomberg - more
  • Reuters - more

  The president of an international trade association, representing leading food equipment manufacturers (in a particular field) has sent us a request. They are trying to locate a qualified and knowledgeable speaker on the metal market, and in particular, stainless steel, for a meeting to be held in a major Midwestern city on March 2nd, 2008. This is an wonderful opportunity to speak directly to the owners of food equipment manufacturers, who use a substantial amount of stainless steel on an annual basis. If you are qualified and interested, please e-mail us and we will pass on your contact information.  E-mail us 

  Behre Dolbear Weekly Global Mining News - pdf here

  TD Bank Weekly Commodity Price Report - pdf here  

  Rand Merchant Bank Base Metals Weekly Report - pdf here

  Copyright/courtesy Yieh - "According to the official statistics, Taiwan’s stainless steel hot rolled imports rose by 26 percent to 20,272 tons from last month. The import of stainless steel cold rolled was about 9,894 tons, up by 118 percent. However, Taiwan’s export of stainless steel material showed slight increase of 2 percent in October due to weak demand."

  Xstrata Plc , the world's sixth-biggest mining company, is open to talks with potential suitors, including Vale and Anglo American , the Financial Times said on Tuesday. - more

  The stalking of Rio Tinto by the world’s largest miner, BHP Billiton, has all the tension of a takeover battle, except that there isn't yet a formal bid on the table. - more

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "Russia exported in January-October 203,600 metric tons of nickel, 4.7% less than in the corresponding period last year, the federal customs service reported Tuesday."

  An unbalance on supply and demand of chrome ore produced in South Africa is becoming remarkable. The reason is due to the fact that South Africa increased their exports of chrome ore, mainly for China , from April of 2007, in addition to the increased demand for chrome ore from domestic market of South Africa. The aspect of this unbalance is accelerating. - more

  As the curtain falls on another remarkable year for the commodity market, it’s worth noting that more of the same is expected in 2008. - more

  UBS forecasts that industrial metals prices will further consolidate next year, but remains optimistic for copper and aluminum, which may outperform other base metals. - more

  ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel company, has announced its acquisition of M.T. Majdalani Y Cia. S.A., the leading stainless steel service center and distributor in Argentina. The transaction is being reviewed by the competition authorities. - more

  Charter rates for dry-bulk carriers may extend declines on concern negotiations for the price of iron ore next year may be protracted, stalling demand for vessels. - more

  Copyright AISI - "In the week ending December 8, 2007, domestic raw steel production was 2,064,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 86.5 percent. Production was 1,733,000 tons in the week ending December 8, 2006, while the capability utilization then was 75.0 percent. The current week production represents a 19.0 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending December 8, 2007 is up 1.9 percent from the previous week ending December 1, 2007 when production was 2,024,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 84.9 percent. Adjusted year-to-date production through December 8, 2007 was 100,294,000 tons, at a capability utilization rate of 86.0 percent. That is a 2.6 percent decrease from the 103,054,000 tons during the same period last year, when the capability utilization rate was 87.5 percent."

  Today's beginning nickel inventory

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 468 tons = 45,480 tonnes (4.04% - 1836 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 43,644 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 238000-243000RMB/t, minus 1000 (charts)
Monday, December 10  
Daily reports -
 Platt's  /   UBS  /  MF Global  /  BNP  /  Metals Insider  /  Macquarie  /  Commonwealth
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $11.70/lb 3 month buyer - $11.43/lb (24.3% lower than 1/1/07) (the official prices reflect the market dipped into backwardation this morning, but we feel this was a momentary fluke, not a return to the trend we saw earlier this year. Fundamentals should keep nickel prices in contango.)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 76 to 9,992. (5 year chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 624 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 66 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 126 tonnes from Busan, South Korea warehouse, plus 270 tonnes into Singapore warehouse, minus 72 tonnes into Singapore warehouse
  • It's official - Friday was a dead cat bounce. Market is very bearish, with traders wondering where the stainless steel recovery went. We aren't convinced the stainless steel market is in as much trouble as the nickel industry would like to believe, but whatever is happening, these up and down movements of $1000/tonne over a two day period, do nothing to encourage nickel buyers to come back to the table. Traders may like to gamble, but those who buy nickel for use in stainless steel, do not. Another possible rate cut in the US will get much of the markets attention tomorrow. For today, three month nickel ended trading at $11.93/lb ($26,295/tonne)    
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Haywood Securities Metals & Mining Weekly - pdf here

  Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. Monday Report - pdf here

  Finland-based stainless steel producer Outokumpu, which has recently opened its sales office in India, on Sunday said it plans to focus on architecture, building and construction (AB&C) and pulp and paper industry. both emerging market segments in India. - more

  The video “Self-Repairing for Lasting Value”, which recently became available for video streaming on the Internet, is now available on DVD. It provides an entertaining, easy-to-understand explanation of the phenomenon of passivation, which is the reason of the corrosion resistance properties of stainless steel. - more

  There is no doubt that inventories of base metals have an effect on the trading price. But has it lost the overall effect it used to? Here is a report posted by Man Financial in May of 2006, that we are re-posting as we think it raises some great points about changes in the market. - Do Fundamentals Matter Anymore? - pdf here (co-author Edward Meir is now with MFG Global)

  THE third draft of the mining royalty bill is radically different from the first two - more

  Zambia's government has begun renegotiating fixed tax agreements held by international mining firms with a view to effecting the new tax measures early next year. - more

  Few people noticed, but China got smaller the other day. According to new estimates, the colossal Chinese economy that has been making marketers salivate and giving others an inferiority complex may be roughly 40 percent smaller than previously thought: worth $6 trillion rather than $10 trillion. - more

  In response to industry needs, EWI announces the Welding Stainless Steel Alloys Workshop, January 30-31 hosted at EWI in Columbus, Ohio. - more

  Morning Indicator (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indications at 7:55 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.45/lb . Gravity has stricken the bouncing kitty and prices have fallen back as sharply as they rose last Friday. Inventories of nickel stocked in LME warehouses rolled over the psychological 45,000/tonne mark overnight, which is adding negative pressure on the market.
  • Bloomberg - more
  • Forbes - more

  In the weekly SMM Specialist forecast, of 35 metals analysts responding, 5 (14%) felt the price of nickel would rise this week, 6 (17%) felt the price would stay about the same, and the rest, 24 (68%) felt the price of nickel would fall this week.

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - LME nickel prices are set to rally over the next couple of months as optimism over a soft landing for the economy revives, European and US destocking of stainless steel comes to an end, and commodity indexes rebalance, says Societe Generale. Notes rebalancing may require some $350M worth of nickel buying

  GFMS Metals Consulting Ltd Market Analysis: Nickel Briefing - here

  Brook Hunt & Associates Ltd Monthly briefing - here

  -The Brazilian government is preparing an official decree that would change mining royalties, Mines and Energy Minister Nelson Hubner said in an interview published Monday in local newspaper Gazeta Mercantil. - more

  Investment group Blackstone is planning a counterbid for Rio Tinto Ltd/Plc with a consortium believed to include China's sovereign wealth fund, Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper said on Monday. - more

  Yieh Monthly Dec 2007 - "Steel prices set to rise further in 2008" - pdf here

  Today's beginning nickel inventory

Saturday, Sunday December 8 & 9
  Notes/forecast on molybdenum from Dec 5th RBC report - here

  According to a report out of Russia, China is considering adding tax incentives for the import of nickel, molybdenum, chromium, and other metals and ores that are scarce in that country. An official announcement from China is expected before years end.       

  Chinese media reports that Japan's biggest nickel producer, Sumitomo Metal Mining, estimates nickel output in 2008 will increase 58,000 tons to 1.43 million tons, while demand for nickel will increase 72,000 tons, to 1.417 million tons. This will cause the global supply of nickel to be in surplus for a second year, but SMM predicts the surplus will be less in 2008 than 2007.

  It is reported that China's domestic steel demand growth looks set to steam ahead in months ahead, a consensus achieved by market analysts at Mysteel Annual Conference held last weekend. - more

  More merger speculation - THE boom in mining takeovers seems to be lasting just as long as the boom in commodities prices. BHP Billiton's audacious $US150 billion ($170 billion) tilt at Rio Tinto has understandably received a lot of attention because it is by far the biggest proposed deal in mining's history. - more  XSTRATA has taken centre stage in the latest speculation about mega-mergers in the booming resources sector, after Brazil's CVRD was touted as showing interest in the world's fifth-largest mining company. - more

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones Newswire - "LME nickel stocks saw a significant draw from South Korea location, nearly wiping out the warehouses entire metal reserve and justifying a recent spate of canceled warrants, says Deutsche Bank. Cancelled warrants are now being registered at the Singapore warehouse, it notes. "We view this as a positive sign for the possible beginning of a nickel demand recovery in Asia," it says. Also says, given recent tumble in prices, "the risk of Chinese stainless steel producers turning to nickel pig iron as a substitute for primary material has been downsized." Sees prices recovering in '08. Deutsche sees nickel prices averaging $30,865/ton in 4Q '07 and $33,620/ton in Q1 '08."

  London stockbroker Fairfax tells a metals correspondent on Thursday that low carbon ferro-chrome prices have a potential of reaching $3/lb in Europe in 2008.

  AIIS November 2007 Public Survey - Stainless report on page 17. While not really a good gauge of what producers are doing, as it is obvious this survey only has one member that responds to the stainless part of the survey, it is interesting to note that the single respondent has moved their bookings report from stabile to declining over the past 4 months, to increasing moderately in November and advises inventory has moved from moderate oversupply during the same 4 month period, to "about right".   - word document report here

  China's largest steel company Baosteel called Friday on the Australian government to intervene to prevent BHP Billiton from taking over rival miner Rio Tinto. - more

  It is reported that while visiting shareholders in the US, Mr Tom Albanese CEO of Rio Tinto has stepped up his rhetoric against BHP Billiton's unsolicited takeover bid and labeling it "dead in the water." - more

  It is reported that due both to nickel price drop and relatively high traders held stock, the major Chinese stainless steel makers have declared to cut 10% to 20% production in December 2007 while opening ex work price flat. In contrast, the western markets are seeing rising stainless price. - more

  With most of Southern Palawan covered by mining applications and several ongoing large scale nickel extraction operations, the provincial government Thursday declared a mining moratorium in the region’s last remaining contiguous forest bloc, the Mt. Mantalingahan Range. - more

  It is reported that due to the price rise of Chinese domestic iron ore, the restriction of the export of Brazilian iron ore and the general increase of steel price since December, market price of imported iron ore is likely to further increase. - more

  According to Mr Feng Jinyao chairman of the China Fasteners Association that China's fastener industry, the world's largest, will consume over 6 million tonnes of steel in 2007 on an industry conference held recently in Shanghai. - more

  BHP Billiton's $170 billion tilt at rival Rio Tinto to create a mining behemoth might be the biggest game in town, but it is far from being the only one. - more

  National Mining Association Mining Week - pdf here

  Russia's second-largest bank, VTB, may partly finance the purchase of a 25 percent stake in Norilsk Nickel by tycoon Vladimir Potanin for $15.7 billion (7.7 billion pounds), VTB's chief executive officer said on Saturday. - more

  USA Government Bill Tracker - Dec 4, 2007 - Bill Action Introduced: H.R. 4259: To suspend temporarily the duty on Nickel Carbonate (NiCO3). Rep. Richard Baker [R-LA] introduced this bill.// Dec 4, 2007 - Bill Action Introduced: H.R. 4260: To suspend temporarily the duty on Cobalt Carbonate (CoCO3). Rep. Richard Baker [R-LA] introduced this bill.

Friday, December 7
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $11.93/lb 3 month buyer - $12.04/lb (20.3% lower than 1/1/07)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 74 to 10,068. (5 year chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 600 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 48 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 72 tonnes from Busan, South Korea warehouse, plus 60 tonnes into Gothenburg, Sweden warehouse, minus 30 tonnes from Singapore warehouse, and minus 48 tonnes from Liverpool, England warehouse.
  • Well we said the increase in nickel prices this morning might be what traders call a 'dead cat bounce'. At least one trader called it that later to a Dow Jones reporter. We'll have to wait till next week to see if that's what it turns out to be, because as the market closed today, the kitty was still in the air. Market started out rather quiet this morning, but by mid morning the price of nickel had gained about $400/tonne. Trading then slumped for a short period in early afternoon trading, when someone suddenly hit the green light. Later afternoon trading saw the price soar, and by the end of the day and week, three month nickel closed at $12.41/lb  ($27,350/tonne)       
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Copyright./courtesy Dow Jones - "LME nickel jumps 4% to $27,100/metric ton as buy stops hit, says a trader. But it's a "dead cat bounce," he says, suggesting a short-lived recovery from nickel's prolonged decline."

  Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. Market report - pdf here

  comment - Xstrata, widely regarded as one of the more prolific 'buyers' among metal miners, is now rumored to be a possible takeover target of either Anglo America, or Vale, formerly CVRD. This comes on the heels of an offer by BHP for Rio Tinto. In Russia, we are still waiting to learn who will end up with controlling interest of Norilsk Nickel, as their joint owners play tug-of-war. With all this take-over talk, we are considering starting a rumor next week that a consortium of the countries of Guatemala and Cuba are going to make an all-banana/cigar offer for Jinchuan Nickel (don't the Chinese love banana's and cigars?), just to gauge the speculation, and numerous denials that usually follow these rumors. And before we could write this - Vale has officially denied it's interested in Xstrata, and Xstrata has denied its talking to anyone. (here and here) In our opinion, if you are into watching these soap opera's play out, and wonder what Xstrata might do, see what Glencore gets out of it. As their largest single stockholder, Glencore will have the final say. And history shows that Swiss Glencore, isn't much in the selling game. If they did, one might see it as a bearish sign for metals.

  Sudbury retailers and the city’s economy do benefit when miners at Xstrata Nickel and CVRD Inco cash their bonus cheques. - more

  The London Metal Exchange (LME) is about to launch a steel futures contract, promising it will give the industry a key hedging tool, but many producers worry it could just increase volatility as speculators enter the market. - more

  Morning Indicator (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.45/lb . Today's movement is being led more by trading technical's, than any supply disruption news. Our Voisey's Bay notice yesterday has been read in London quit a few times this morning, according to our visitor log, but if it's swinging any trades, no one is talking to the media about it. This could be what traders like to call a "dead cat bounce", but we will have to see. Inventories grew again overnight, and this will add more bearish pressure. 
  • Bloomberg - more
  • CNN - more

  We posted the ABARE commodity statistics report yesterday, here is their primary commodity report - Australian Commodities - 172 page report here

  China's largest nickel producer Jinchuan Group has lowered domestic prices for both electrolytic nickel in drum and full plate by Yuan 18,000($2,432)/mt each, with effect from December 7, 2007, the company said Friday in a statement. - more

  China's major stainless steel manufacturers have announced reductions of 10-20% one after another in their production of nickel-based CR sheets for December shipments. - more

  Stainless steelmakers in China, the world's largest producer, are cutting production and building stockpiles in the fourth quarter due to lower overseas demand, industry sources said. - more

  The price of nickel-based stainless steel scrap ( new clippings ) to be purchased by stainless steel companies of Japan for deliveries in December of 2007 from domestic sources has been decided to be reduced further by Yen 40,000 ton, effective from the 1st of December, following a reduction of Yen 30,000 per ton determined on the 27th of November. - more

  The market tendency by item on imports of ferro-alloys into Japan at the 30th November of 2007 is as follows - more

  Mining giant Vale (RIO) is in talks about a possible participation in the construction of Brazil's huge Rio Madeira hydroelectric power dams, Vale's Chief Executive Roger Agnelli is quoted as saying in the O Globo newspaper Friday. - more

  In October, Japan exported 97,641 tonnes of stainless steel products. Compared with the same period last year, exports fell by 28%. During the same period, Japan exported 20,856 tons of stainless steel waste, increasing the volume of exports from September by 71.6%. Compared with the same month in 2006, scrap exports fell 27.2%.

  The world steel market is zipping along for the sixth year running driven mainly by China but could slow down next year, the OECD said on Wednesday. - more

  A fire at a ThyssenKrupp steel plant in northern Italy killed one worker and injured six early on Thursday, police and rescue workers said. - more

  At $70,000, Veuve Clicquot's Porsche-designed champagne cooler is firmly in the rich moron category, and therefore will probably sell out the limited edition run of 15. - more

  Today's beginning nickel inventory

Thursday, December 6
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $11.58/lb 3 month buyer - $11.75/lb (22.2% lower than 1/1/07)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 74 to 10,142.
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 174 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 60 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 30 tonnes from Busan, South Korea warehouse, minus 60 tonnes from Singapore warehouse
  • It was a tug of war between the bears and the bulls today on the London Metal Exchange trading floor. In the end, the bulls won the day, but it was a hard fight. Four times the market fell into the red, but five times it went green. Inventories gained 24 tonnes overnight, and the US dollar, which had been gaining over the last three days, slumped again. These factors encouraged buyers, who might have also felt the market was oversold. As we noted below, future Voisey's Bay shipments are now on hold, due to the weather, and if word of this has gotten to London, it might have also helped give the bulls a morale boost.  Moly watchers, and historical buffs, should also note our report on Knaben below. For the day, three month nickel ended trading at  $11.79/lb ($26,000/tonne)     
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  (ABARE) Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics Commodity Statistics - 367 page extensive report here and a article on the report here

  World Average Stainless Steel Prices - Latest Forecast from MEPS - more

  According to Voisey's Bay website, their last shipment of nickel ore for 2007 left on Mv Umiak 1 yesterday. The site goes on to advise that 4 shipments are planned between January 22 – April 6, 2008, with normal shipping to resume around May 22, 2008.

  According to Russian media, the world's oldest molybdenum mine re-opened in late November. While molybdenum has been mined as a by-product of copper mining much longer, the Knaben mine in southern Norway opened in 1885 and closed in 1973. Northern Europe's largest moly mine, the Knaben mine became well known during World War Two, as the primary source of moly for the Nazi war machine.  (article about Allied bombing mission to knock it out here) The mine is forecast to produce 100 tonnes of ore during its first year, and owners hope to increase that to 400 tonnes by 2009. Photo's of area here and aerial view of mine from Wikimapia here

  Jindal Stainless Ltd., India's biggest producer of the alloy, will sell more to domestic customers as a stronger rupee make exports less competitive. - more

  South Africa, the world's largest producer of gold and platinum, cut proposed taxes on mining revenue to take account of processing costs and help stimulate investment and job creation. - more

  Russian tycoon Vladimir Potanin, the head of Interros Company, was born 3 January 1961 in Moscow, to a family of a diplomat. - more

  World Steel Output to Reach 1.6 Billion Tonnes by 2011 - more

  Morning Indicator (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by around $.05/lb . Trading has been erratic so far today, having spent time in both the green and red on two separate occasions. Market nearly gained as much as +$400/tonne at one point, and has fallen into the negative by as much as $300/tonne. Inventory flow continues to raise eyebrows, with a slight gain today, with slight being the word that has bullish traders paying attention.
  • Bloomberg - more

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones News - "Nickel's sharp decline from mid November levels around $34,000/metric ton to near $25,000/ton Wednesday has slowed for the time being, likely reflecting the oversold nature of the market, says JP Morgan analyst Michael Jansen. "Stainless demand is clearly recovering off a very low base but still high stock levels is thwarting the downstream demand for refined nickel," he says. Sees nickel prices rangebound in the short term, "but the $25,000/ton level should definitely hold."

  Standard Bank: Weekly Commodity Research - pdf here

  Numis Securities on International Ferro Metals - with news on ferrochrome market - pdf here  (for additional information on state of LC and HC ferrochrome market conditions, read this)

  Investment advisers have now joined market analysts in suggesting that molybdenum could rise by as much as 12.5% in 2008. As reported earlier by Purchasing.com, the nonferrous metal’s prices could rise in 2008 to an average $36/lb from $32 this year because of a 5% or higher decline in new-metal supply. - more

  Minara Resources Ltd., Australia's second-largest nickel producer, may spend more than A$1.3 billion ($1.1 billion) to double production of the stainless steelmaking ingredient from its Murrin Murrin mine and plant by 2011. - more

  The head of ArcelorMittal SA's North American operations said on Wednesday he expects the price of iron ore, a key raw material for steelmaking, to rise 30 percent to 35 percent in 2008. - more

  It is reported that South Korean POSCO has reignited its Kwangyang No 3 blast furnace leading to additional output of 650,000 tonnes, which will result in POSCO’s annual production capacity to reach 33 million tonnes making it the 2nd largest steelmaker in the world. - more

  China's Sinosteel Group and Baosteel Group have signed a strategic cooperation agreement for supply of iron ore and other raw materials, state media said. - more

  Japan's scrap iron and steel prices rose for the first time in 11 weeks, as Chinese steelmakers increased purchases after prices fell from a record. - more

  In October, Japan exported 97,641 tons of stainless steel products as well, which was at the same level with that of September. But it declined by 28 percent as compared with the same period of last year.  - more

  China's major stainless steel manufacturers have announced reductions of 10-20% one after another in their production of nickel-based CR sheets for December shipments. - more

  Beijing could sweeten incentives for local governments to support mergers in China's fragmented steel industry on fears that BHP Billiton's bid for Rio Tinto will leave it less bargaining power over raw materials supplies. - more

  State-owned mining company PT Aneka Tambang said it aims to produce 17,000 tons of ferronickel in 2008 up from this year's target of 16,000 tons. - more

  Baosteel executives today denied recent domestic media reports that the company is planning to place an acquisition bid for Rio Tinto, state media reported today. - more

  Today's beginning nickel inventory

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 24 tons = 44,316 tonnes (2.79% - 1236 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 43,080 net stock level)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 237500-242000 RMB/t, minus 1750
Wednesday, December 5
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $11.57/lb 3 month buyer - $11.61/lb (23.2% lower than 1/1/07)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 69 to 10,216.
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 546 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 6 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 24 tonnes from Singapore warehouse, plus 96 tonnes into Baltimore, MD, USA warehouse, minus 816 tonnes from Busan, South Korea warehouse
  • We have grown accustomed to seeing 642 tonnes of nickel come in to LME warehouses on any single day. But what we are not used to seeing is 846 tonnes of nickel going out on the same day. For the second time this week, nickel inventories took a hit. And with the mood on the London exchange incredibly bearish, nickel traders are jumping on any news they can find, to try and stop the price slide. On the flip side, prices are coming dangerously close to their "official" closing low's for the year. On August 16th of this year, nickel 'officially' closed at $11.36/lb for cash, $11.56/lb for 3 month, and kerb trading ended at $11.39/lb. This was the lowest day for the year, but the market appears to be in jeopardy of slipping below this. Trading started out positive, then fell about $600/tonne into the red, before climbing back in late afternoon trading. By the end of the trading day, nickel was back into the green, but just barely. Trading ended the day at $11.70/lb ($25,800/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Our stainless steel surcharge page has been fully updated with January numbers posted, as has the 'build your own chart' page. For the month of November, courtesy of AK Steel, here are your average monthly costs for the following metals - Nickel - $13.8846/lb / Molybdenum - $31.125/lb / Chrome - $1.6544/lb / Iron - $259.00/GT

  (we link to the UBS Daily in the far right hand column but this one led with a short article about nickel so we added an extra link to it here) Rising LME nickel stocks are telling us that conditions in the stainless steel market remain weak and that the expected Q4 restocking has disappointed; de-stocking by consumers appears to be still occurring. - more

  Commodity prices will keep rising, with oil topping $100 a barrel next year and copper reaching a record, as supplies of raw materials dwindle and demand increases from Asian countries, Barclays Plc said. - more

  Around 67% of nickel is consumed in stainless steel but that is set to climb to 70% by 2015 as stainless steel growth is fueled by demand from China, an Xstrata PLC (XTA.LN) executive said Wednesday. - more

  Stainless steelmakers in China, the world's largest producer, are cutting production and building stockpiles in the fourth quarter due to lower overseas demand, industry sources said. - more

  China's use of nickel pig iron for stainless steel production will ``stay forever'' and constrain prices for primary nickel from rising to records, Macquarie Group Ltd. said. - more

  Precision Machined Products Association Materials Impact - pdf here

  China's Sinosteel Group and Baosteel Group have signed a strategic cooperation agreement for supply of iron ore and other raw materials, state media said. - more

  Taigang Stainless Steel Cold Rolling Mill sharp year-on-year growth in production volume - translated article here

  Red China it might be, but its acquisition hungry firms are very much in the black, with plenty of cash to spend. For a population brought up on a diet of communism, its businessmen have embraced capitalism with remarkable gusto. - more

  Sudbury smelter is on track to see a record output of nickel matte this year, of 67,000 metric tons, Chief Executive Ian Pearce said Wednesday. - more

  Morning Indicator (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.01/lb.  For the second time in three days, inventories of nickel stored in LME warehouses have fallen, and the market has once again, gone into a holding pattern. Market fell by around $600/tonne earlier this morning, but has since returned to where it started and has dipped ever so slightly into the green.
  • Bloomberg - more

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones News - " LME nickel is looking weak Wednesday morning with possibly more downside to come, says Barclays Capital analyst Gail Berry. "The weakness is stemming from the fact that buying from stainless steel producers is elusive and is now unlikely to happen before the end of the year," she says." "LME nickel sentiment bearish on talk of production cuts by major stainless steel producers, says BNP Paribas. Triland Metals says close below previous support at $26,000 now makes it resistance, likely to trend lower towards $25,000 this week. ...BNP Paribas notes "significant" number of outstanding option calls with strikes at $26,000/ton for expiry Wednesday, which may lead to volatility, could trigger short-term rebound towards that level as option call holders try to push nickel to strike levels."

  Rand Merchant Bank - Base Metals Monthly - pdf here

  From Scotia Capital China Update - "There is speculation in the domestic market that the Chinese government may soon cancel the existing VAT export rebate of between 8% and 11% on all stainless steel products."

  According to IMAC Mineral of Russia, George Song of Shanxiang Minmetals recently told a Metal Bulletin seminar in Monte Carlo, that he forecasts molybdenum to remain in a supply deficit situation in 2008. Song forecast 2007 production to reach 195.2 tons, just slightly over 2006 figures of 194.4 tons, but short of the anticipated 199.1 to 206.4 tonnes used this year. This leaves a potential deficit for 2007 reaching upwards of 11.7 tonnes. Song also reported 2007 production in the US slipped 3.6%, while Chile's production of molybdenum slipped by 3.74%. Projected demand for moly in 2008 to grow 5-6%, with Western production not increasing substantially until new production is introduced in 2010. Market can no longer rely on Chinese exports since the introduction of quotas and export taxes, which will reduce China's role as a primary supplier. Song forecasts the price of molybdenum will become volatile over the next few years.   

  Last week Macquarie attended the International Seminar for Nickel & Ferro Nickel Alloys with Stainless Steel Market held by ferro-alloys.com in Qingdao, Shandong province. - more

  Xstrata Plc, which has boosted resources at its Raglan nickel mine in Canada, aims to double production by 2013, making it one of the world's biggest nickel operations. - more

  Japan's imports of ferromolybdenum from Chile almost doubled year on year in the January to October 2007 period, after the launch of a free trade pact between the two countries on September 3, Japanese customs data showed. - more

  Indonesian state-run mining firm PT Aneka Tambang Tbk said on Wednesday it expects its ferro-nickel output to rise by 6.3 percent next year as it gradually lifts the output of its damaged smelter. - more

  Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold Inc plans to reopen its Climax molybdenum mine in Colorado, which has been closed for 12 years. - more

  Landowners in Solomon Islands’ Isabel province have agreed on a nickel joint venture with an Australian mining company, Axiom Mining. - more

  ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, said on Tuesday it would spend up to $1.75 billion (euro1.19 billion) buying out its Brazilian specialty steel unit ArcelorMittal Inox Brasil SA. - more

  NERVES are frayed at the world’s steelmakers in the wake of proposals to merge BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto – a combination that would see it control up to 40% of world iron ore seaborne trade. - more

  Our holiday gift to you - How about two of the most popular investment/motivational books of all times - completely free?

  • #1 Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill - 235 page book pdf here
  • # 2 As A Man Thinketh by James Allen (read online here) or download in pdf here 
  • And one of the most inspirational speeches of all times - Russell Conwell's Acres of Diamonds - read online here or download a pdf here

  Today's beginning nickel inventory

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 204 tons = 44,292 tonnes (2.48% - 1098 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 43,194 net stock level)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 238000-245000 RMB/t, minus 6000
Tuesday, December 4
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $11.61/lb 3 month buyer - $11.70/lb (22.5% lower than 1/1/07)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 15 to 10,285.
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 252 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 54 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 36 tonnes from Singapore warehouse
  • After a surprising drop in LME warehouse inventory yesterday, nickel numbers gained today, and terminated any potential, albeit momentary, flashes of bullish hopes on the LME trading floor. The official price for three month nickel slipped under $12/lb for the first time since August 20th, and hit the second lowest level its registered this year (having hit a 2007 low of $11.39/lb on Aug 16th). Nickel spent the entire trading day in the red, with heavy morning declines, showing some degree of stability during afternoon trading. For the day, three month LME nickel ended at $11.65/lb ($25,690/tonne)  
  • Closing Metals Report - more
  • AFX - more

  Commonwealth Research - The HARD Review - pdf here

  Purchasing surveys have shown that demand for stainless steel in the U.S. has been sliding for some months and is on pace to decline by 8% to 2.92 million tons this calendar year. - more

  Exports of molybdenum from China decreased by 16% in October, but is still up by 8% on the year. Primary buyers of Chinese ferromoly in October 2007 were - the Netherlands (31%) (stored in the Netherlands for sale into the EU), the US (23%), Taiwan (19%), and Japan (10.7%)

  Types of Corrosion - pdf here

  Update - Daily official price for nickel slips under $12/lb for both cash and 3 month - actual prices posted in afternoon update. Allegheny posts stainless steel surcharge for January 2008 - here

  Morning Indicator (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.36/lb . Another gain in LME inventories has dashed the hopes of the bullish trader for a quick turn around. Sentiment remains bearish.
  • Bloomberg - more

  Behre Dolbear Global Mining News - pdf here

  Rand Merchant Bank - Base Metals Weekly - pdf here

  TD Bank Weekly Commodity Price Report - pdf here

  New Alloy Surcharges Will Not Stabilise EU Stainless Steel Prices - more

  China’s major stainless steel mills have announced to cut the production by 10~20 percent in December, because the nickel price keeps on decreasing and the stocks are at a high level. - more

  Japan's imports of ferromolybdenum from Chile almost doubled year on year in the January to October 2007 period, after the launch of a free trade pact between the two countries on September 3, Japanese customs data showed.  - more

  The 2006/2007 fiscal year was another record year for ThyssenKrupp. It was the most successful since the merger in 1999 and is evidence of the effectiveness of the Group’s strategy and the strength of the segments: - more

  It is reported that China’s Taigang Stainless Steel will commission its JV of 200,000 tonnes per year cold rolled stainless steel plant by the end of 2008. - more

  China's top steelmaker, Baosteel, may bid at least $200 billion for miner Rio Tinto Group, topping a takeover proposal by BHP Billiton, Baosteel Chairman Xu Lejiang told a Chinese newspaper. - more   and Chinese steelmakers, the largest buyers of iron ore, and the government are studying a joint bid for Rio Tinto Group to counter a $134 billion offer from BHP Billiton Ltd. - more

  (Comment - this place must have some rather interesting board meetings) The entire board of the mining mammoth Anglo American has had to take an Aids test. Hang on, that doesn’t seem right. Ah, the board of Anglo, including chief executive Cynthia Carroll and chairman - more

  Formal negotiations to set the contract price for iron ore for the next fiscal year "may start soon", said the industry association. - more

  Courtesy AISI - "In the week ending December 1, 2007, domestic raw steel production was 2,024,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 84.9 percent. Production was 1,865,000 tons in the week ending December 1, 2006, while the capability utilization then was 81.5 percent. The current week production represents an 8.5 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending December 1, 2007 is down 0.9 percent from the previous week ending November 24, 2007 when production was 2,044,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 85.7 percent. Adjusted year-to-date production through December 1, 2007 was 98,230,000 tons, at a capability utilization rate of 86.0 percent. That is a 3.0 percent decrease from the 101,321,000 tons during the same period last year, when the capability utilization rate was 89.0 percent."

  Today's beginning nickel inventory

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 162 tons = 44,496 tonnes (3.78% - 1,680 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 42,816 net stock level)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 246000-249000 RMB/t, minus 1500
Monday, December 3
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.07/lb 3 month buyer - $12.253/lb (18.9% lower than 1/1/07)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 60 to 10,270.
  • LME nickel inventories - all outflow - minus 132 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 180 tonnes from Busan, South Korea warehouse, minus 192 tonnes from Singapore warehouse, minus 24 tonnes from St Louis, MO, USA warehouse
  • For the most part, nickel trading was rather mute today, after a surprising outflow from LME warehouses and no inbound, dropped overall inventory numbers. At one point, the price of nickel rose by around $400/tonne, and then fell back to trade in a small range around where it had started the day. Then, in late afternoon trading, the negative sentiment proved too strong for the bulls, and nickel fell deeper into the red. The sentiment for nickel has started December much the same way it ended November, very bearish. Unless we see a few more surprises like today's LME inventory activity, with more heading out than is coming in, there is little reason to see the pessimistic mood changing anytime soon. For the first day of the first week of the last month of 2007, three month nickel ended trading at $12.13/lb ($26,750/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more
  • Chanukah, also known as the Festival of Lights, begins tomorrow evening. Happy Hanukkah to our readers of the Jewish faith!

  Haywood Securities Metals & Mining Weekly - pdf here

  Jimmy Clements, a retired miner from Cornwall, swore he would 'shout his head off' if tin mining ever began again at South Crofty where he once worked. - more

  Over the weekend we added a new feature to this page, which can be found to the right and half way down the page. We will follow weekly prices for ferrochrome, ferromoly, moly oxide, and ferrochrome in the U.S., and low grade Indonesian and Philippine laterite ore and low carbon ferrochrome into China. For those using pay services like Platts or AMM, our prices are not exact, but meant to give readers an idea of market movements. These prices will be updated each weekend.

  Morning Indicator (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indications at 7:55 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.01/lb. While the trend is definitely negative, the significant dip in LME inventory has apparently taken traders by surprise and they are not sure how to react. 
  • Bloomberg - more

  Fortis Metals Monthly November 2007 - pdf here

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "LME 3-month nickel likely to hover below $28,000/ton short-term while it attempts to test higher levels, building on Friday's slightly higher close, says Triland Metals. However, adds failure to regain $28,000 likely to weaken sentiment, prompt slide towards $26,000 area. Deutsche Bank says although stainless steel demand has been growing more slowly than expected, nickel prices should be firm at start of 2008 when stainless steel output in U.S., Europe, East Asia picks up.

  Weekly Forecast by MM Specialist - of 34 analysts responding, none felt the price of nickel would rise this week, 9 (26%) feel the price would stay about the same as last week, and the remaining 25 (74%) feel the price of nickel would fall this week.

  Outlook For Chrome Metal Market By Delachaux / France - more

  UK based consulting firm GFMS said that steel prices broadly declined in November 2007 in line with their expectations of market weakness in Q 4 of 2007. - more

  More than 257 kg of nickel has been seized in 25 smuggling cases in the Gongbei Customs, Zhuhai City, south China's Guangdong Province, according to a statement posted on China Customs' website on Monday. - more

  One of the world’s largest nickel and cobalt mining and processing ventures, the Ambatovy project in the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar, is set to begin in 2010. - more

  China has agreed to end a series of subsidies to several domestic industries, including its steel industry. - more

  As far as picking mining stocks that are producers go, I have a few criteria that I look for. They are: - more

  Today's beginning nickel inventory

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 528 tons = 44,334 tonnes (3.69% - 1638 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 42,696 net stock level)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 247000-251000 RMB/t, minus 750
Weekend Review, Saturday and Sunday, December 1 & 2
  Courtesy Moscow Times - "But all eyes were on Norilsk Nickel, as speculation was ramped up this week regarding the prospect of a full-blown merger between Norilsk Nickel and RusAl if the aluminum giant succeeds in buying a 25 percent stake from Mikhail Prokhorov. Immediately, that raised concerns regarding the terms the minority shareholders in Norilsk could hope to receive. UralSib issued a note on the likelihood of a reverse takeover between RusAl and Norilsk, a scenario with negative implications for minority shareholders because of the danger of their shares being diluted. Additionally, the bank's analysts said, the proposed tie-up terms -- as far as they are known -- assume a generous valuation for RusAl and a rather less generous valuation for Norilsk. While a merger between RusAl and Norilsk would create a diversified, global mining company, analysts say there is still uncertainty over the real intentions of billionaire Oleg Deripaska, the majority owner in RusAl. "Not all the minority shareholders are bullish on this deal [between RusAl and Prokhorov]," said Valentina Bogomolova, a metals analyst at Alfa Bank. "Some think it is a first step ... to convert a private company into a state company." Prokhorov has potentially added salt to the wound, saying he would block a much-anticipated spin-off of Norilsk's energy assets, thus supporting the likelihood of a sale to RusAl, at a Dec. 14 vote."

  UBS Commodity Connections 4th Quarter 2007 - pdf here

  ANZ Commodities Quarterly - pdf here

  National Mining Association Mining Week - pdf here

  Crude steel output in China, the world's largest producer, is forecast to rise 10 percent to a record 540 million tonnes in 2008, a senior official of China Iron and Steel Association said on Saturday. - more

  China's manufacturing expanded at a faster pace in November, according to a government survey of purchasing managers released today. - more

  (not nickel, but a rather unusual move by a major miner, with possible repercussions across all base metals) BHP Billiton has turned up the heat on the South Australian Government to let it pursue the cheapest expansion option at Olympic Dam — to have downstream processing of the operation's copper/gold/uranium ore shifted to China and elsewhere. - more

  It was bold and forthright when released in September 2006. But more than a year later, little has changed in Greater Sudbury since the Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable Community was released, particularly in its call for a greater share of the mining wealth being produced in the Sudbury Basin. - more

  Excerpts from analysts - China - "Recent support has been in the $26,600/$26,700 dollars region, but should rebound, if only short-term. Resistance at $28,800/$28,900 dollars, followed by $29,800/$29,900 dollar will be strong resistance. Trading strategy: price should rebound in the next few days when new shorts are established." India - "Worries regarding slowing stainless steel sector demand are having bearish influences on the prices. Inventories are also on the higher side, however overall strength in the other base metal complex will direct the price trend in nickel futures."

  We reported earlier this week that Posco had decided to begin production of 200 series stainless steel. Chinese media reports that while Posco had considered producing 200 series containing either 4% or 1% nickel, it has decided to produce the series containing 4% nickel.   

  (excerpt from Interfax article posted yesterday)  "China's primary nickel output is expected to surge 53.8% from last year to 221,000 tons this year, a large proportion of which will come from nickel pig iron production, which is due to triple to 95,000 tons over the year. However, China will still need to import 152,000 tons of nickel metal this year, Xu said." - (comment - when looking at the world's overall consumption of nickel, 95,000 tonnes may seem trivial. In fact, it has the potential to have quite a huge impact. Last year China produced around 20,000 tonnes of nickel from the so-called "pig nickel". An increase from 20 to 75 thousand tonnes, is equivalent to the production capacity of a mega mine like Ravensthorpe.)

  China has agreed to end a series of subsidies to several domestic industries, including its steel industry. - more

  Cuba's three nickel production plants, the René Ramos Latour, Pedro Soto Alba and Ernesto Che Guevara, located in the eastern part of the island, were subjected to intense rainfall that began in the month of October, a situation further aggravated by the downpours associated with Tropical Storm Noel, which brought precipitation to the highest level recorded in decades.- more

  China increased nickel production for the first 10 months of 2007 by 23%, compared with 2006. Chinese imports of pure nickel last October increased by 34% compared to the level of one year ago, and has increased 11.7% in the first 10 months of 2007, compared to 2006. Metal Bulletin wrote "On the other hand, many market participants agree that the volume of purchases of nickel traders included in the import statistics do not reflect the real physical demand for the metal in the country."

  Courtesy Rusmet - "One week ago three largest Russian steel producers – Severstal, MMK and NLMK announced about their intention to initiate anti-dumping investigation, concerning growing import deliveries (and, China, above all) of galvanized steel and steel with colored polymer coating. Russian pipe producers also intend to fight against growing import of Chinese pipes."

  Thompson Creek Metals Co Inc TC.N, one of only two pure molybdenum producers in the world, sees much of the new supply due to come onstream in the next few years failing in its attempt, because of financing, permitting, and cost challenges facing the industry. - more

  Steel demand in Latin America is forecast to increase 10-15% in 2008, according to a research report by investment bank UBS Pactual. - more

  Courtesy Yieh - "China’s steel production capacity has been rising rapidly in the past few years. According to the daily steel output in September, the total output for a year will reach 520 million tons. And this situation is made worse because some steel makers are trying to expand their capacities. At the same time, the government is curbing iron and steel export, which will worsen the oversupply situation on domestic market."

  According to B-port.com, the 160 meter high chimney was in critical need of reconstruction after more than 60 years of production. Engineers from the Siberian company Uralteploprojekt are now working to repair the chimney. - more

  Thiess Pty Ltd and BHP Billiton have teamed up in a $250,000 partnership to support a design competition for first year engineering students. The 2008 Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Challenge launched today (November 30) is a national design competition for a sustainable development project. Working in teams of four to six, the students will design solutions for actual sustainable development projects that support EWB’s work with disadvantaged and developing communities. - more (cuddo's to BHP & EWB)

  (excerpt) "The U.S. slowdown has had little discernible effect on growth in most other countries," the International Monetary Fund wrote in its world economic outlook in April. Under the heading Decoupling the Train? the IMF parsed the main points at hand: the slowdown in the U.S. was sectorally isolated to housing; trade linkages with the U.S. had become less important for "many" other countries; and domestic demand in both emerging and advanced economies could be more resilient than in prior U.S. downturns." - more

  Asian Development Bank assistant chief economist Franker Harrigan told reporters in Kuala Lumpur on the 27th that the high international price of oil could reduce Chinese, Malaysian, and Indonesia's economic growth by .9%, and Thai, Philippine and Singapore's rate of growth by 1.1%, to 1.3% points.

  High-style stainless-steel kitchens continue to be the rage, even though they can be easily smudged and smeared. - more


November Archives


Daily Comparison         (* = per lb) or (+ = per tonne)

Date

LME Stock Level +

Cancelled Warrants

Net Stock Level

Official Cash Close *

Official 3 months close *

Day's Ending *

12-31

47,946

1.31%

47,316

$11.70

$11.79

$11.91

12-28

47,946

1.54%

47,208

$11.95

$12.10

$11.93

12-27

47,184

2.03%

46,224

$12.25

$12.38

$12.28

12-21

47,310

2.09%

46,320

$12.02

$12.18

$12.20

12-20

47,430

2.21%

46,380

$11.91

$12.09

$11.95

12-19

47,412

2.42%

46,266

$11.78

$11.88

$12.10

12-18

46,956

2.07%

45,984

$11.63

$11.70

$11.75

12-17

46,686

2.00%

45,750

$11.57

$11.68

$11.63

12-14

46,314

2.27%

45,264

$11.75

$11.84

$12.00

12-13

46,104

3.07%

44,688

$11.63

$11.75

$11.61

12-12

46,098

4.11%

44,202

$11.57

$11.75

$11.88

12-11

45,480

4.04%

43,644

$11.79

$11.84

$12.11

12-10

45,012

2.52%

43,878

$11.70

$11.43

$11.93

12-7

44,778

2.60%

43,614

$11.93

$12.04

$12.41

12-6

44,316

2.79%

43,080

$11.58

$11.75

$11.79

12-5

44,292

2.48%

43,194

$11.57

$11.61

$11.70

12-4

44,496

3.78%

42,816

$11.61

$11.70

$11.65

12-3

44,334

3.69%

42,696

$12.07

$12.25

$12.13

3 month nickel averaged $11.01/lb for all of 2006, $6.69/lb in 2005, and ended 2006 at $15.10/lb
Cancelled warrants are goods sold


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All prices, unless marked official closing prices, are indications only of LME 3 month buyer traded prices and courtesy newswire services. To understand what our prices mean, see "A Guide To LME Trading"...pdf here or "The ABCs of a Metals Exchange" ...pdf here (Molybdenum prices are for molybdenum oxide, an ingredient and major price factor in 316 stainless) (all ton listings are metric tons = 2204.6 pounds ) Updated daily before 8 am CST and before 1 pm CST weekdays, with some weekend updates - Disclaimer Daily closing price listed uses afternoon kerb trading price. Original content and opinions copyright www.estainlesssteel.com


Updated Weekly

12/1 Market Prices

Ferromolybdenum (65-70%)
$35.00/lb
 

Moly Oxide (>51%)
$32.70/lb
 

Ferrochrome (60-65%)
$1.67/lb
 

Ferrochrome (low carbon)
$2.15/lb
 

Ferromanganese (C<.5%)
$1.95/lb
 


11/30 Scrap Prices

(small qty)
$.75/lb
 

(LTL/ton)
$.89/lb
 

More Prices

Philippines Nickel Ore (1.5%)
Lanshan Port

$760/Yuan/MT
 

Indonesia Nickel Ore (1.8%)
Rizhao Port

$1200/Yuan/MT
 

Ferrochrome (LC) Gr 50
Taiyuan Port

13450/RMB/MT
 

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