This page is archived news covering the period of February 2008
If you are looking for current daily market news, please visit here.

Stainless Steel Prices and Nickel News
Stainless Steel Pricing and Cost of Nickel

Nickel Price Charts

Your banner here

Nickel/Stainless Research

Stainless Steel Charts

Stainless Steel Surcharge

Nickel Price Forecasts

Stainless Steel Literature

Ferrochrome Facts

Make your own charts


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

Friday, February 29
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $14.29/lb 3 month buyer - $14.38/lb (20.74% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 281 to 7,613. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 84 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 132 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, plus 66 tonnes from Gothenburg, Sweden warehouse, minus 12 tonnes from Gothenburg warehouse
  • Anytime metals get a general bull run, there are going to be days when some traders decide the market has moved up too fast for its own good, and decide to take profits. Most all base metals traded on the LME felt that pinch today, and in late trading, even nickel finally took a breather. But not enough to nickel into the red, like most of the others witnessed. For the day, three month nickel ended the day, week, and second trading month of 2008 at $14.26/lb ($31,450/tonne). That puts nickel up 10.89% on the week, 14.72% higher for the month, and 19.73% higher on the year.
  • Closing Metals Report - more
  • Have a safe and enjoyable weekend!! We leave you with some pretty cool pictures, not related to metals? Photo's here

  Nickel Rallies on Steelmaker Buying, Strike; Copper, Tin Drop

  • Nickel rose to the highest in more than three months in London on expectations of increased buying by stainless-steel makers and as workers at a Colombian mine owned by BHP Billiton Ltd. went on strike. - more

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones

  • "Buyers of LME nickel should surface on pull backs toward $30,000/ton, as sentiment has been bolstered by a strike at the Cerromatoso plant, says UBS. The metal is also bolstered by gains in other metals as it looks to play catch up. While abundant supply and high LME stocks suggest the upside should be limited to $32,000/ton "a spike toward $35,000-36,000/t is possible," he says."
  • "Since copper and the rest of the industrial metals complex were punished last quarter following bearish US data, it appears there has been a fundamental shift in sentiment toward commodities, says Deutsche Bank. "This phenomenon also points to a rise in popularity of commodities as an asset class among the investment community as many seek out hard assets to park funds." Sees outlook for the remainder of 1Q as positive, with "signals of robust demand supporting copper and the rest of the industrial metals."
  • "Nickel pig iron continues to act as a very strong cap to refined nickel use in China, says analyst Michael Jansen of JP Morgan. Notes that China January trade data show low quality ore imports remained very high, "implying still solid growth in low nickel content pig iron production." ...."suggesting that there is enough capacity growth in stainless (sector) within China to draw on global nickel inventories as well as acting to supplant nickel use through nickel pig iron."
  • "If this mine and smelter (Cerro Matoso) stays down for a protracted period of time it could affect the global supply and demand balance, especially if the South African byproduct output is affected materially by power strikes, said JP Morgan analyst Michael Jansen."

  Colombia's Cerro Matoso ferronickel mine paralyzed

  • Labor negotiations at Colombia's Cerro Matoso ferronickel mine were at a standstill on Friday as a strike by workers stretched into a third day, union and company officials said. - more

  Chinese ferromoly market bullish on good demand from steel mills

  • China's domestic trade on ferromolybdenum is active this week due to rising domestic demand from domestic steel mills in China, according to industry sources. - more

  The Annual PDAC Convention Begins on Sunday - Stan Sudol

  • The annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention starts this Sunday in Toronto, Canada. - more

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.36/lb . Nickel broke thru the $31,000/tonne resistance yesterday, and has so far, kept its upward momentum. We have added a running total to the top of the page on the potential loss in nickel production the strike in Colombia could have, just to keep the loss in perspective.  There are two ways of looking at this situation. First in late 2006, the fall strike in New Caledonia was basically pooh-poohed by nickel traders, with far less LME inventory. This wouldn't be such a big consideration, except that Cerro Matoso supplies 4% of the world's nickel, while Eramet's New Caledonia operation supplies 6%. Counter-point. New Caledonia operations never fully shut down, while reports from Cerro are that the operation is completely closed. If this strike does last a long time, not even as long as the New Caledonia strike, we could start to see noticeable drops in LME inventory - and if that starts to happen, look back to the first five months of 2007 and you can see the potential implications. One thing is for sure - until this strike is settled and for weeks after, all eyes will be watching the all important LME inventory numbers. Yesterday - LME gained 276 tonnes - strike cost us 199. Today LME gains only 6, and strike cost us another 199 - minus 116 tonnes to date. 
  • Bloomberg - more

  Base metal markets look to ‘decoupling’

  • Base metals have swept higher in recent weeks, helping push copper and aluminium prices to within striking distance of all-time highs and driving tin to a record......Debate is intense among analysts and investors over whether the commodity supercycle can be sustained. - more

 

  • List of top Chinese steel makers in 2007
  • As a sign that consolidation is making some headway, China's top 20 steelmakers accounted for 250 million tonnes in 2007 out of total production of 489 million tonnes a little more than half of the country's total output, compared with less than 50% in 2006. - list here
  • Chinese CRC export price continues to rise
  • It is reported that Chinese CR steel coil export prices are up substantially this week, reflecting the strong rise in home market prices. - more

  Communities want bigger share of nickel profits

  • Community leaders in Puvirnituq, Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq want a larger share of profit from the Nunavik Nickel Mine development, which will see new open pit mines, more roads, another airport and other mine infrastructure built near their communities.- more

  BHP Billiton to invest 2.5 bln usd in two nickel projects in Indonesia - report

  • Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP Billiton is set to invest more than 2.5 billion dollars to develop two nickel mining projects in Halmahera, Maluku province and West Papua in Indonesia, the Jakarta Post reported Friday. - more

  Metals Outlook Bullish for Investors With Faith in Emerging Markets

  • Investors looking to cash in on the increasingly bullish outlook for metals and mining should carefully consider what a slowdown in the U.S. economy will mean for the sector. Gavin Graham, director of investments at Guardian Group of Funds, says his outlook for metal is ''strongly bullish'' and predicts continued strength into the future despite a possible U.S. recession. - more

  This week's "I'd give the old boy a tear if I weren't laughing so hard" story

  • (One of world's wealthiest men, who has built his fortune by mocking those who have cried "NIMBY(Not in my backyard)" to his expansion plans - now learns the tune himself) - Steel tycoon Lakshmi N Mittal is selling his sprawling 40-million-pound (nearly $61-million) house in London in protest against plans to build an apartment block next door, British newspapers reported on Friday. - more

  Job cuts at mines unavoidable (unions have threatened to strike if mining jobs are lost. Major source of ferrochrome, which is already way up)

  • South African Minister of Minerals and Energy Buyelwa Sonjica has confirmed that job losses at South African mines are unavoidable, the South African Broadcasting Corporation reported on Friday. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 6 tonnes = 47,874 tonnes (1.28% - 612 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 47,262 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 255000-257000 RMB/t, plus  9000 (charts)
Thursday, February 28
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $13.74/lb 3 month buyer - $13.79/lb (16.96% higher than 12/31/07) (chart) (note - official prices reflect market moved into contango, if only momentarily.)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 33 to 7,332. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 558 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 252 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 24 tonnes from Vlissingen, Netherlands warehouse
  • We mentioned on Monday that "There is good reason when looking at 'trading' charts and looking at upcoming reports this week, to believe there is a good chance we may see more increases in the price of nickel this week. Fundamentally, from the supply/demand perspective there is no reason to believe the price of nickel will do much of anything, except possibly take back of some of last weeks gains. So which will win? Market fundamentals? Or trading fundamentals?" Trading fundamentals had led the market higher thru yesterday, and then the fundamental equation waivered today. Tony Warwick-Ching, a nickel analyst at CRU in London, said it best to Bloomberg this morning, ``The bull is looking for a reason for nickel to join the rally.'' We might have worded that to "the bull has been looking" for a reason. As one trader put it, today's market was a "knee jerk reaction" to news that a major nickel mine in Colombia had gone on strike. Somebody's knee may have jerked, but stainless steel producers can tell you where the boot landed. Until yesterday, it appeared average nickel prices for the month would work out to be about where they were for January. Now, that could be far too conservative of a guess. With the price of ferrochrome already way up, and iron ore right behind it, stainless steel producers, distributors and users, do not need nickel to rise sharply also. U.S. stainless steel surcharges for April appear to be going higher - again. Three month nickel ended the day at  $14.11/lb ($31,100/tonne)  ($3150/tonne higher than Tuesday's close and a new high for 2008)
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Nickel Advances Most in Five Months as BHP Mine Halts Output

  • Nickel rose the most in five months after a strike at BHP Billiton Ltd.'s Cerro Matoso mine in Colombia halted production that accounts for about 4 percent of world output. Tin traded at a record. - more

  The countdown has come to an end today Wednesday 27 the zero hour strike begins in Cerromatoso

  • As announced last February 15 workers affiliated with SINTRACERROMATOSO - CGT, approved conducting a strike in this company owned by the multinational BHP Billiton; During these days were continuous dialogues, but unfortunately today was not solution to the demands presented by the union. - translated announcement here  another translated report

  Colombia's Cerro Matoso ferronickel mine shut down

  • Colombia's Cerro Matoso ferronickel mine was "totally paralyzed" on Thursday by a labor union strike that started the day before, an official at the company with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters.

  Quantum's Jim Rogers says US 'out of control'

  • Jim Rogers - who co-founded the now closed Quantum Fund with George Soros - told 750 global fund managers in Tokyo today that, America is “completely out of control”, there will be a 20-year bull market in commodities and that prices will be in turmoil. - more

  Global Steel Prices Set for Double Digit Percentage Hikes This Year

  • US mills appear to be busy with delivery lead times stretching out to early April. Customers need to replenish stocks and there is a lack of imported steel at present, although this could change later in the year. - more

  Quebec stakes claim to best policy for mining; Nevada and Finland round out annual survey’s top three

  • Prospectors and investors looking for a stake in the mining sector should turn to Quebec, as La Belle Province is seen by mining executives as having the best policy environment in the world for investment, according to the Survey of Mining Companies 2007/2008, released today by independent research organization The Fraser Institute. - more

  9:15 am LME 3 month nickel now up $2000/tonne.

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.64/lb (that's about $1400/tonne - In the time it took me to look up all three indicators, price jumped by $150/tonne on all three.) If you have ever seen the movie "Independence Day" about the alien attack on the world, there is an early scene, where the character played by Harvey Fierstein, is trapped in his car as a alien caused firestorm and certain death approach. His final thought, before his car is crushed - "oh crap". And speaking of "oh crap", we have a major nickel producer down because of a strike. The first news that came out on this was late yesterday afternoon when BN America announced a strike was imminent, followed by a Reuters report in late evening that the workers were on strike. With the market already up for the economic reasons we mentioned yesterday, throwing a supply disruption into the pot, has taken the market by complete surprise.    
  • Bloomberg - more
  • Reuters - more

  Nickel Rises to 7-Week High as BHP Billiton Mine Halts Output

  • Nickel rose to the highest in seven weeks after a strike at BHP Billiton Ltd.'s Cerro Matoso mine in Colombia halted production that accounts for about 4 percent of world output. Tin traded at a record. - more

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones

  • .Cerromatoso exported 114,000 tons of nickel in the first 11 months of 2007.....It is therefore a significant contributor to world nickel supply, said Fairfax analyst John Meyer. "This has no doubt helped push up nickel prices further, as well as investment money into commodities," Meyer said.....But in a market of ample material, the spike higher this week is likely a "knee-jerk reaction," said UBS analyst Robin Bhar. He added that nickel has been laggard in the complex, so it makes sense to see some short covering and buying of the metal along with general base metal interest. "Although demand for nickel is improving, the problem is that supply is abundant," Bhar said. "In addition to nickel sourced from stainless scrap, increased amounts will come from Chinese production of pig iron and higher primary output."

  Union: Strike imminent at Cerro Matoso - Colombia

  • Employees at the Cerro Matoso metallurgical complex in northern Colombia's Córdoba department are calling for an indefinite strike to demand labor agreements. - more

  China's industrial output grows 13.5 pct year-on-year in 2007 - NBS

  • China's industrial output increased by 13.5 percent year-on-year to RMB 10.74 trillion ($1.51 trillion) in 2007, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced today. - more

  Price Of Low Carbon Fe-Cr Is Viewed To Rise To Level US$4 / Lb. For Troubled Production In S.Africa

  • Current Price In Europe Is US$3.75 - 3.90 Per Lb. Of Cr For Carbon 0.1% Max. Material - more

  Bits and Pieces

  • A dispute over marketing rights held by Xstrata's biggest shareholder is threatening takeover talks with suitor Vale of Brazil, a source close to the situation said on Thursday.
  • Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin's Interros group has urged fellow shareholders in Polyus Gold to challenge a proposal by the mining firm's management to carve off its exploration business. - more
  • Xstrata, the copper miner, reached a record high yesterday amid a rumour that Anglo American, up 50p at £33.30, was plotting a bid, offering one Anglo share and £13 cash for every one of Xstrata. Xstrata, of Switzerland, whose negotiations with Vale, of Brazil, appear to have stalled because Glencore, Xstrata’s main shareholder, cannot agree a price or a metals marketing deal, rose 47p to £41.47.
  • South Africa's biggest mining union has threatened to strike if any of its members lose their jobs as a result of the country's electricity shortage. - more
  • Canada's biggest producer of coal for the steelmaking industry appears poised for a massive increase in profits, thanks to a "massive squeeze" in global supply. - more
  • India - Punjab-based steel producers have requested the Union Finance Minister to completely ban or impose duty on the export of iron ore and abolish import duty on secondary steel in the coming Budget, to reduce the steel prices. This came as these producers were adversely affected by rising input prices.
  • Sylvania Resources has signed an amendment to its deal with South African ferrochrome producer Samancor to treat run-of-mine fines from three new sites at Samancor's current South African mining operations, the company said Wednesday. - more
  • SSINA (US) - Imports of total stainless steel in YTD December 2007 were 765,431 tons, a 7.6% decrease compared to YTD December 2006; US consumption was 2,225,789 tons, a 14.0% decrease; twelve month import penetration was 34.4%, a 2.4% point increase from 2006.

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 276 tonnes = 47,868 tonnes (1.43% - 684 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 47,004 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 245000-249000 RMB/t, plus 4250  (charts)
Wednesday, February 27
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $13.06/lb 3 month buyer - $13.15/lb (10.41% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 13 to 7,299. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 72 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 102 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 24 tonnes from Singapore warehouse, and minus 18 tonnes from Baltimore, MD, US warehouse
  • While some of the base metals traded in London have some supply concerns to content with, the supply/demand parameters met little to London nickel traders today. Only two things really mattered. First, the news out yesterday that proved the US is straining under inflationary pressure, gave commodities fresh fund money investment. Secondly, the dollar took another tumble yesterday, and set a new record low against the Euro this morning, and a falling dollar gives a boost to base metal prices. Thus, it was written in the tea leaves that today would be an green trading day, even before the session opened. The only question that was really left to be answered - was how high would prices go? Three month nickel ended the trading day at $13.25/lb   ($29,200/tonne) - up $1,250/tonne.    
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Dollar weakness, investment money boost metals

  • Industrial metals climbed higher on Wednesday, with aluminium hitting its highest in 21 months as a weak dollar boosted commodity prices across the board. - more

  Standard Bank Commodities Weekly - pdf here

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones

  • "Record oil prices overnight have sparked a suggestion we're moving into a period of higher inflation," said Sempra Metals analyst John Kemp, with "not much push back by the central banks...that's the kind of environment in which commodities do well."

  Chinese businessmen urge EU restraint on tariffs

  • Cheap imports do not pose a threat to the EU, Chinese manufacturers have insisted, as the Commission attempts to deal with an increasing number of requests to introduce punitive duties on Chinese products, allegedly dumped on EU markets at below-cost prices. - more
  • Chinese screw-makers urge EU to drop duties case - Chinese screw-makers called on the European Union on Tuesday not to hit their exports with anti-dumping duties, saying European companies and consumers would also suffer. - more

  Global Steel may go into iron, nickel mining, readies $1.6B

  • (excerpt) He added that Global Steel was also interested in putting up an integrated mill for stainless steel. - more

  Opinions

  • Too Much Money Chasing Too Few Commodities
  • A historic rally is underway in the global commodities markets. Central bankers in 18 of the top 20 economies in the world have been expanding their money supplies at double digit rates for the past several years, trying to prevent their currencies from rising too quickly against the sickly US dollar. Nowadays, fund managers are pouring billions of dollars into commodities across the board, as a hedge against the explosive growth of the world’s money supply, competitive currency devaluations, and the negative interest rates engineered by central banks. To the chagrin of central bankers, much of new money pumped into the global markets is also going into commodities, instead of the stock market. - more
  • Can commodities serve as a reserve currency?
  • The financial sector, like the politic arena, can sometimes yield more heat than light, particularly during doldrums or other challenging economic periods. In economist Glen Langan's view, there's no better example of this than the current idea in financial circles that with a period of higher inflation likely ahead, commodities will become the world's new reserve currencies, displacing the U.S. dollar. - more

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling  up by $.41/lb . Yes that's correct, market is up about $900/tonne. You just know it's going to be one of those days when the first headline you read says "Nickel, lead, aluminium jumped as weak dollar boost metals". We knew today would be up after yesterday's reports, but we are surprised by how much it has already gone up. Yesterday's nail in the coffin - "Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn said turmoil in credit markets and the possibility of slower economic growth pose a ``greater threat'' than inflation." No, not that one, who believes the government anymore. "Labor Department reported that, compared with a year ago, wholesale prices have risen 7.4 percent." That would be inflation. Yesterday's immediate reaction - US Dollar fell to record low against Euro and most major currencies. Today's reaction - Dollar down, base metal prices up, some, including nickel, way up.
  • Bloomberg - more
  • Thomson Financial - more
  • Dow Jones - more

  Steel Founders' Society of America Casteel Report February 2008 - pdf here (and) Steel market condition information - pdf here

  Commodities Show Upward Trend

  • Short-term commodity demand growth will remain stronger than expected because of developments in Asia despite the economic slowdown in the United States, said Daniel Sacks, head of resources on the commodity investment team at Investec Asset Management. - more

  China Growth Facts

  • In 1997, China imported 55,110,000 tons of iron ore and produced 115,114,000 tonnes of pig iron and 108,911,000 tonnes of crude steel. Five years later, they imported 111,494,000 tonnes of iron ore and produced 170,735,000 tonnes of pig iron and 182,249,000 tonnes of crude steel. Last year, China imported 383,090,000 tonnes of iron ore and produced 469,000,000 tonnes of pig iron and 489,000,000 tonnes of crude steel. Five years ago, China spent nearly $2.8 billion dollars importing iron ore for its steel production. Last year they spent nearly $34 billion.  

  Courtesy Scotia Capital "China Commodities Weekly"

  • China’s stainless production surged 36% YOY to 7.2 million tonnes last year, said the Stainless Steel Council of China Special Steel Enterprises Association. Production from China’s largest stainless producer, Taiyuan Iron & Steel, contributed most to the country’s output increase. ...Last year, China’s 300-series stainless steel production stood at 4.19 million tonnes, accounting for 58.1% of total stainless steel output, down 4.2% from a year earlier. The proportion of 400-series stainless steel and 200-series stainless output was 25.5% and 16.4%, respectively, up 3.2% and 1%.

  Bits and Pieces

  • The Specialty Steel Industry of North America (SSINA) has released that US stainless steel import declined by 7.6 percent to 765,431 tons in 2007.
  • The Russian Nickel Co. will invest $640 million in production within the next three years and reach output of 40,000 tons of nickel and 4,000 tons of cobalt by 2012, its parent, the Russian Copper Co., announced Wednesday.
  • Norilsk, the world's biggest producer of nickel, is building its own shipping fleet to capitalize on the melting of the polar ice caps. - more
  • Zambia is on track to complete the construction of a dedicated power supply line to its first nickel mine where production of 8,600 tonnes of nickel will commence mid-year, an industry official - more
  • The China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) has urged its members to invest directly in overseas resources, as a rise in iron ore prices and constrained coking coal supplies threaten their bottom line. - more
  • Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, the world’s largest iron ore producer, concluded the iron ore fines price negotiations for 2008 with Taiwan China Steel Corporation. - more
  • Russia's environment agency said on Wednesday it had filed a 4.35 billion rouble ($177.9 million) claim against mining firm Norilsk Nickel for alleged pollution of rivers in Siberia. Rosprirodnadzor said in a statement it had lodged the claim with the Krasnoyarsk regional arbitration court following an investigation of Norilsk's Taimyr division in summer 2007. - more
  • Even by Russian standards, this tussle has it all. Feuding oligarchs, national politics and a fight to control what would be one of the mining industry’s biggest companies – all conducted inside a head-spinning commodity bubble. - more
  • A sixth employee of leading iron ore producer Assmang Limited (Assmang) has died as a result of the weekend blast at the Number Six furnace of the company’s Cato Ridge works in KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Taiwan’s Yieh United Steel Corp. (Yusco) and Tang Eng Iron Works have announced to raise stainless steel prices. The move is mainly motivated by rising prices of ferro-chrome. Downstream customers are replenishing their stocks; therefore, the demand is good. Both companies will raise export prices by around US$60~160/ton in April.
  • Argonaut Resources NL, primarily seeking gold in South East Asia, has made a nickel discovery in Laos. - more

  Getting the Best out of Stainless Steel

  • "My stainless steel has gone rusty. It can't be stainless. What's gone wrong? Who's to blame? How can I fix it?" - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 72 tons = 47,586 tonnes (1.88% - 894 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,692 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 239500-246000 RMB/t, minus 750  (charts)
Tuesday, February 26
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.63/lb 3 month buyer - $12.72/lb (6.8% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 16 to 7,312. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 72 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 330 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 60 tonnes from Singapore warehouse
  • This morning we advised of increases in 400 series stainless steel prices. 300 series stainless has more room to climb next month also. Korean stainless steel wire producers, who typically wait till the end of the month to make price adjustments, advised Taiwanese and Chinese fastener manufacturers that 'effective immediately', the price for A2 (304) stainless steel had risen 4.9% to $4100/MT USD and A4 (316) stainless steel, had increased 3.7% to $6800/MT USD. Considering the average price of nickel has changed little since January, this price increase is primarily due to cost increases seen in ferrochrome, molybdenum, and iron ore. Three month nickel ended the day at $12.67/lb ($27,950/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Behre Dolbear Global Mining News - pdf here

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones

  • "Base and precious metals prices, along with oil, have "staying power" to remain at historically high levels for some time, underpinned by supply issues as well as demand from developing economies, Bart Melek, global commodity strategist with BMO Capital Markets, said Tuesday .... Meanwhile, governments in parts of the world are withdrawing licenses or forcing mining companies to renegotiate the terms of licenses. "Certainly it looks like countries that have the resources want a bigger share of the pie," Melek said. "It shouldn't be a big surprise that is happening." This essentially raises the cost of capital, with companies needing higher prices for the risks they are taking, Melek said. "

  Spain's Acerinox sees base price improving in Q2

  • Spanish steel maker Acerinox said on Tuesday it expects the base price of its stainless steel to improve in the second quarter of this year. - more

  High-quality product from low-quality materials (comment - hope this isn't their motto)

  • China Steel is a producer of nickel pig-iron, which is used as an alternative to pure nickel in the production of stainless steel. - more

  A market for stainless steel? (comment)

  • After years of environmentalist claims that the use of wooden chopsticks in China was helping deforest that country, the Chinese government has recently slapped a tax on disposable chopsticks and urged restaurants to discontinue their use. The potential winners? Standard silverware and stainless steel chopsticks.

  Why Won't Nickel Prices Fall? (comment)

  • Commodities have recently offered investors a more stable return than equities - attracting even more fund investment
  • Inflation - commodities offer an inflationary hedge to investors, as they typically represent items the economy can't do without, and can, at least in the short term, benefit from a inflationary pricing.
  • US recessionary concerns - The old theory that when the US coughed, the rest of the world caught a cold, has lost substantial ground to the "world decoupling theory", which states no one country is solely responsible for the fortunes of others. The growth in China is the single biggest factor for the current commodities bull market, and what impact a US recession might have on it, and the rest of the world, is losing many believers of the old theory. But not all. (more)
  • Stainless steel production in most parts of the world are stagnant, according to the best intelligence. Traders are gambling that its revival will put a strain on nickel production in the near future.  They have good reason. LME nickel inventories stood at 47,940 tonnes on January 2nd, 9 weeks ago. Today, they registered 47,658 tonnes. While we aren't seeing inventory's drop, the more important observation is that we aren't seeing the inventory gain. And this is going on while stainless steel production is down!?

  (for the mining investor - annual report) Behre Dolbear - Where NOT to Invest - here

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

  • Indications at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.07/lb . Steel producers around the world are raising prices on steel, courtesy the new iron ore price increase,  and stainless steel producers are increasing the price of 400 series stainless, due to the sharp increase in the price of ferrochrome.
  • Bloomberg - more

  TD Bank Weekly Commodity Price Report - pdf here

  Rand Merchant Bank - Base Metals Weekly Report - pdf here

  Canada Commodity Price Update - pdf here

  World Bank Commodity Markets Review Feb 2008 - pdf here

   General Review Of Nickel In 2007 And Its Outlook For New Year (two part article by Tex Reports)

  • Part 1 - here (excerpt) "However, the cost to produce nickel-contained pig iron in China is estimated at US$7 - 8 per lb. of nickel on the basis of the current price for nickel ore and, even if nickel price falls to a level of US$5 per lb. in the future, this nickel-contained pig iron produced in China will still see a possibility to survive. "
  • Part 2 - here 

  Stainless steel demand to rise on rail plans

  • Stainless steel consumption will rise by at least 140,000 tonnes over the next one year or so after the railway minister announced plans to build new freight wagons and passenger coaches from the metal, a senior industry official said on Tuesday. - more

  Commerce Initiates Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Investigations of Circular Welded Austenitic Stainless Pressure Pipe from China - more

  Power cuts, blast set to lift ferrochrome prices

  • Ferrochrome prices are expected to rise sharply as SA’s power shortage cuts production and an explosion at Samancor Chrome, the world’s second-biggest ferrochrome producer, halts production for three to four months. - more

  Baosteel raises prices 20% to cover increased ore cost

  • Baoshan Iron & Steel Co said yesterday it would raise second-quarter steel product prices by up to 20 percent to pass on costs to customers after iron ore prices jumped. - more

  Iron Ore Breaking with Tradition?

  • Imagine this. You make a product. You've got steep competition. As if by magic, you discover the exact price your biggest competitor is charging, and the precise terms of his contracts with customers you really want.  In other words, it's the perfect opportunity to say, "But wait! I can charge more!" - more

  China Metallurgical to Buy Australian Iron-Ore Mine

  • China Metallurgical Group Corp., a state-owned construction company, agreed to pay Cape Lambert Iron Ore Ltd. A$400 million ($369.6 million) for a deposit containing the steelmaking raw material in Western Australia. - more

  Courtesy London Metal Exchange - London Metal Exchange Index thru yesterday (source)

  Goro Nickel seeks the good pipe

  • The suspension of work of installation under the sea marks a stage in the dispute, but L’industrial N’does not consider an alternative solution yet. - translated article here
  • Coordination of Defense of the South - CoDefSud - This is the website of the organization currently moving against the Goro mine - translated site here  original French language site here

  Courtesy AISI - This Week's Raw Steel Production

  • In the week ending February 23, 2008, domestic raw steel production was 2,158,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 90.5 percent. Production was 2,126,000 tons in the week ending February 23, 2007, while the capability utilization then was 89.5 percent. The current week production represents a 1.5 percent decrease from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending February 23, 2008 is up 0.6 percent from the previous week ending February 16, 2008 when production was 2,144,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 89.9 percent.

  Global steel prices: the sky is the limit

  • Global steel prices could hit new peaks in 2008, thanks to skyrocketing raw material, energy and freight costs, coupled with tighter supplies because of falling exports from China. - more

  Substantial Steel Price Hikes Inevitable in EU but Few Deals So Far

  • EU mills are benefiting from a lack of competitive third country imports. Low inventories at distributors need to be replenished and customers are accepting that prices must go up as producers try to recover higher input costs. - more

  Listed firms ordered to submit green data

  • The government will enforce mandatory environmental disclosures for companies with high pollution emissions and energy consumption, according to a regulation released by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) Monday. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 318 tons = 47,658 tonnes (1.90% - 906 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,752 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 240000-247000 RMB/t,  minus 2000  (charts)
Monday, February 25
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.90/lb 3 month buyer - 12.99$/lb (9.16% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 109 to 7,296. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 216 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 120 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 60 tonnes from Busan, South Korea warehouse, minus 18 tonnes from Vlissingen, Sweden warehouse
  • Marketwatch headline told the morning story "U.S. stocks pulled solidly higher Monday after data on the troubled housing industry proved slightly less bleak than predicted, and renewed activity appeared in the deal-making front." Even news from the NY Times that Bank of America was circulating a bail-out proposal in Congress warning " up to $739 billion in mortgages are at "moderate to high risk" of defaulting over the next five years and that millions of families could lose their homes," did not seem to put a damper on the bullish mood. Report from Reuters that South Africa energy supplier Eskom, is paying 50% more for emergency coal. We find it amusing this report comes out a few weeks after Glencore announced force majeure on its coal shipments heading "out" of South Africa, thanks to all three of its cargo crane's breaking down. Not that we could blame them. There are few certainties in life, but one is that if one party is willing to pay a premium for an item, someone will find a way to get them that item. The enthusiasm in the States did not spread across the pond to base metals trading though, with the U.S. Dollar climbing ever-so-slightly against the Euro. Except for tin, which broke another record today, and zinc, which squeaked out a slight gain, metals traded on the London Metal Exchange were down today. Nickel appeared to be playing follow the leader with copper once again, which fell after its LME stockpile grew 5%+. For the first day of the 9th trading week of 2008, three month nickel closed at $12.79/lb  ($28,200/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  'For miners, the best is yet to come'

  • The bull run in commodities is far from over, according to a prominent market strategist who predicts base metal stocks will take a breather before resuming their ride on a "once-in-a-millennium" boom that will last at least two decades. - more

  Canadian Industrial Outlook - pdf here

  Cut Stainless Costs with Lower Nickel Alloys

  • Advances in arc and laser welding as well as new solid-state approaches offer opportunities to substitute less expensive, lower content nickel stainless steels in certain types of mechanical assemblies. - more

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.03/lb . There is good reason when looking at 'trading' charts and looking at upcoming reports this week, to believe there is a good chance we may see more increases in the price of nickel this week. Fundamentally, from the supply/demand perspective there is no reason to believe the price of nickel will do much of anything, except possibly take back of some of last weeks gains. So which will win. Market fundamentals? Or trading fundamentals? Stay tuned. 
  • Bloomberg - more

  Haywood Securities Metals & Mining - pdf here

  Germany Steel Graphs

  Global steel prices: the sky is the limit

  • Global steel prices could hit new peaks in 2008, thanks to skyrocketing raw material, energy and freight costs, coupled with tighter supplies because of falling exports from China. - more

  Shanghai Metal Forecasts

  • Of 29 analysts responding, 17 (58%) felt the [rice of nickel would rise on the Shanghai Metals Market this week, while the remaining 12 (41%) feel the price would say about the same. None (0%) felt the price of nickel would fall this week.

  Six die in two furnace blasts

  • A total of six people have been killed and at least four more seriously injured in explosions in two furnaces – one at an leading iron ore producer and the other at the world’s second largest producer of ferrochrome. - more

  Goro Nickel halts construction

  • The Goro Nickel Mining company in New Caledonia has temporarily stopped the construction of a waste disposal pipe amid protests by environmentalists and activists. - more  (another translated article here)

  Global DRI production in January 2008 up by 7.8% YoY

  • International Iron and Steel Institute have released the production figures for direct reduced iron for the month of January 2008. The global production of DRI in January 2008 was 4.966 million tonne up by 10.9% YoY and up by 3.8% MoM as compared to December 2007. - more

  The Commodity Super-Cycle Will Benefit Sudbury for Years to Come - Stan Sudol

  • There is no doubt that the impending recession in the U.S. is causing economic upheaval across Ontario which exports about 86% of its manufactured goods to our southern neighbour. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 18 tons = 47,976 tonnes (2.71% - 1302 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,674 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 242000-249000 RMB/t, minus 1500   (charts)
Saturday, Sunday February 23, 24 (updated throughout weekend)
  Fundamentalist views Changing world will give the commodity bull-run more legs
  • Commodity prices have enjoyed a prolonged bull-market over the last seven years. - more

  Russian metals super-giant on its way?

  • Metalloinvest, the mining and steel group that belongs to Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, may merge with metals giant Norilsk Nickel. - more

  Xstrata mega deal nears

  • Mining groups Vale and Xstrata are inching towards a deal that will create the world’s largest mining group. - more

  2008 mine deals seen to rack up P11.6B in sales

  • (excerpt) Projects now in the development stage....Palawan HPAL Nickel Project Line 2, $18.56 million; ...Iligan Ferronickel Smelter Plant, $140.32 million; Manticao Ferronickel smelter plant, $40.86 million; ..." - more (these headlines imply interesting times ahead - "Military braces for coup" - more)

  Richest person in Australia, Andrew Forrest, is 'quintessential Aussie bloke'

  • A promise to turn rust-red iron ore into gold for investors has transformed Andrew Forrest from a "penny stock" mining entrepreneur with a dream into the richest person in Australia, worth more than $7 billion. - more

  Hot coal causes steel prices to rocket

  • The coal crisis continues, with many countries suffering power outages due to coal supply problems. Macquarie Research says “the strong surge in spot coal prices in recent months, both for coking and thermal, has made forecasting contract price outcomes virtually impossible. - more

  High raw-material costs lead to steel price rise

  • Nippon Steel Corp and JFE Holdings Inc, the world's second and third-biggest steel makers, raised domestic wholesale sheet prices by a record 31 percent to pass on higher raw material costs, officials said yesterday. - more

  Nonferrous Metals Outlook Annual Report - pdf here

  National Mining Association Mining Week - pdf here

  Commodities boom as Fed money printing weakens dollar

  • The price of oil soared to an historic high above 101 dollars this week, while gold and platinum also scored record peaks as speculators dived into already buoyant commodities markets. - more

  Europe Stainless Steel Sheet Price (CR 304 2B 2mm Euro/Tonne Central Europe)

  • November 2007 = 850-1050
  • December 2007 = 1000-1150
  • January 2008 = 1100-1200
  • February 2008 = 1150-1300  

  High costs, labor shortages hampering mining -Teck

  • Base metals mining projects could continue to face delays or cancellation from higher costs and a lack of available personnel, Teck Cominco's chief executive said on Thursday. - more

  Minara Resources Director's Report (excerpt)

  • "China continued to be the major driver of nickel metal demand during 2007. The first half saw low stocks and supply side concerns push the nickel price up to record levels. A weakening of stainless steel demand and a rule change by the London Metal Exchange (LME) triggered a significant correction in the price mid-year. Nickel pig iron production in China rose markedly in the first half of 2007. However, following the decline in nickel price, stocks of imported lateritic ore were reported building up at major Chinese ports as stainless steel producers cut output in the second half of the year. LME stocks started the year at 6,570 tonnes and ended the year at 47,940 tonnes."

  EU mills push steel plate prices up again, but demand weakens

  • ArcelorMittal, Duferco and Reiner Brach are set to increase prices of hot-rolled reversing mill steel plate, despite indications in the market of weakening demand. - more

  PDAC – Mining Matters: Educating the Next Generation about the Mineral Industry - Stan Sudol

  • According to a comprehensive study by the Mining Industry Training and Adjustment Council (MITAC), the Canadian mining industry needs to fill 81,000 high-paying, highly skilled new positions in the next 10 years. - more

  Baosteel warns of foreign entry in China through private mills

  • China Business News reported that Mr Xu Lejiang chairman of Baosteel's chairman as warning China's steel industry of threats that may be brought by the increasing cases foreign capitals take control of good quality private Chinese steel mills. - more

  China's Iron Ore Imports Go At 440 Mt Annually Unitary import price in Jan 08 sets new record of US127.35 per ton

  • According to the Feb. 18 announcement of foreign trade statistics (partly already reported) by China's Customs General Administration, iron ore imports to the country in January 2008 turned out to total 36.81 million tons (Mt), which represents a new single month record, and an annual pace of 440 Mt, being 60 Mt over the 2007 total imports of 380 Mt. Unitary import price set for the month also renewed past record at US$127.35 per ton, which is 1.84 times the level in the same period last year. - more

  Glencore emerges as industrial colossus (older article, good background info)

  • When fugitive commodities dealer Marc Rich sold his trading firm 13 years ago, it was best known for doing business with pariah nations. - more

  Vale donates Kubota prize to cancer research

  • Vale Inco’s Creighton Mine has purchased the 10,000th Kubota CE unit in Canada from local supplier, Tracks & Wheels, and donated the resulting $10,000 prize to Miners for Cancer, in support of the Northern Cancer Research Foundation, said a news release. - more

  85% of our steel from captive mines by 2014: ArcelorMittal

  • Consolidation between mining companies may be a cause for concern for the steel industry but the world’s biggest steelmaker ArcelorMittal is planning to go on the overdrive in search of iron ore mines. - more

  How Japan kept RP mining afloat during war

  • The country’s mining industry in Northern Luzon stayed vibrant during World War II, and journals of the Mitsui Group of Companies showed it was because of harmonious Japanese ties with local miners during that period. - more
Friday, February 22
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.95/lb 3 month buyer - $13.04/lb (9.49% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 189 to 7,187. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 300 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 114 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 12 tonnes from Busan, South Korea warehouse, minus 48 tonnes from Liverpool, England warehouse
  • LME nickel stocks are at their highest level in 10 years. Known stockpiles compared to consumption is running nearly 4 weeks, according to Citigroup's most recent 'Commodity Heap' report, a level it has been running at since September of last year, according to the same report. 300 series stainless sales, according to Chinese, Korean, and Japanese media reports, remain soft in Asia. European economy is softening, but sales of stainless steel appear to be doing well. Nickel, lacking any major supply restraint news, or news that would imply a sizeable shift in world demand, gave little evidence to account for the price swing it experienced this week. The credit goes to fund money pouring into commodities as an inflationary hedge, and playing follow the leader with copper, which had a robust week, on dwindling inventories. Today, the recessionary fears returned, and some traders decided the time was right to take profits. Three month nickel ended the trading day, and week, at $12.86/lb ($28,350/tonne)         
  • Closing Metals Report - more
  • Have a safe and restful weekend. If you have some extra time this weekend, we found a90 minute Canadian documentary of Russian President Putin's rise to power very interesting - here

  Global Stainless Steel Scenario - Steelworld - pdf here

  That steep iron ore price rise may yet have a silver lining for China

  • The 65-percent rise in iron ore prices will not always be bad news for Chinese steel makers, as higher costs will also accelerate the consolidation of the domestic industry and will benefit the sector in a long run. - more

  Chinese Mills Reject Rio's Ore Price Push, People Say

  • Chinese steelmakers, the largest buyers of iron ore, will reject Rio Tinto Group's demand for a minimum 71 percent price increase in an attempt to slow accelerating costs for raw materials, two people familiar with the negotiations said. - more

  German steelmakers' pay agreement puts damper on prospect of early ECB interest rate cut

  • While the expectations of optimists/wishful thinkers that the European Central Bank would cut its benchmark interest rate rate as early as April, was not expected by most credible market analysts to be realized, a wage settlement won by German steelworkers will strengthen the case of the hawks on the ECB Governing Council, to keep the rate on hold at 4% in the short-term. - more

  Huge metal ore discovered south of Murmansk

  • The Irish-owned company Oyosa Gold Plc has made a major finding of molybdenum at a site 160 km south of the Murmansk city. The field could be among the biggest ten in the world. - more

  Power users warn EU investment stalls over climate

  • (excerpt) Juha Rantanen, chief executive of Finnish stainless steel company Outokumpu, said the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme, which will make companies pay increasingly for their pollution, was already hitting his company's plans to expand mining of ferrochrome, a stainless steel ingredient. - more

  Thank Scrap: The Market For Recycled Metals

  • In September 2007, Nickel Magazine carried a story about a new Yale study on environmental advantages of stainless steel recycling. (here)
  • In January, Energy Policy Magazine carried the study (synopsis here)
  • An investor magazine wrote on its extensively in "Thank Scrap: The Market For Recycled Metals"(here)
  • The Chinese Stainless Steel Council carried the story yesterday - (quote from the article) " The demand for steel will eventually become flat, and the use of stainless steel will become the future of renewable resources, in the total proportion of demand will be higher, so that in the future, the production of stainless steel scrap ratio will increase." (translated source)

  South Africa: ASA Metals to Build Two New Furnaces

  • Chrome producer ASA Metals unveiled its expansion programme yesterday, saying the building of two furnaces at its Dilokong chrome mine and smelter in Limpopo would more than double the production of charge chrome. - more

  Minara bullish on nickel outlook as profit drops

  • (excerpt) Brokerage Goldman Sachs JBWere, however, is not as positive on the outlook for nickel prices and believes the base metal will remain in oversupply for the next two years. "With a two-year view at least, we are bearish on the nickel price outlook," Goldman Sachs said in a February 12 client note. - more

  Brazil miner Vale raises bid for Xstrata (would be old news from yesterday, except this paper cites a third source confirming the first source, who's initial claim was denied by a second source. Got to love them anonymous sources!)

  • Brazilian miner Vale has raised its informal offer price in takeover talks with Swiss rival Xstrata , sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations said on Thursday. - more and another

  Russian Billionaires Tussle Over Nickel Giant

  • Another battle between Russian billionaires is brewing, but this time it's not over who supports the Kremlin. - more (we apologize to our readers if this story has gotten mundane, but with the top three nickel miners in the world involved in takeovers , either as taker, or taken, we find this story very interesting)

  Samancor shuts furnace after explosion

  • South Africa's privately owned Samancor Chrome, the world's second-biggest producer of ferrochrome, said on Friday it had shut a furnace at its plant after a worker was killed in an explosion on Sunday. - 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 $.11/lb . With no real news to drive nickel trading one way or the other, the metal appears to be playing follow-the-leader with copper trading this week. China has returned to work from its Spring Holiday. Statistics released today by the Chinese government reflect the Chinese steel industry continues to grow monthly, over 7% in January. LME inventory numbers continue to grow as well. Demand is up...supply remains up. Hmmm.
  • Bloomberg - more
  • Reuters - more

  Barclays Remains Positive On Outlook For Commodity Prices

  • (excerpt) A gradual pick-up in stainless steel activity should see the nickel price push higher in the first half of 2008 but Barclays is not so positive on zinc given its weak market balance, which it suggests will see prices fall below recent support at around US$2,200 per tonne. - more

  Chinese domestic ferromoly trade picks up on stronger demand

  • China's domestic ferromolybdenum trade was active this week with prices moving higher, prompted by stronger demand following the Chinese New Year holidays, industry sources said. - more

  Smaller steel firms begin to raise price

  • Many small and medium-sized steel manufacturers have raised their prices ahead of an expected price increase announcement by Baosteel, the nation's largest steelmaker. more

  Vale says Baosteel agrees to 65 pct ore price hike

  • Brazil's mining giant Vale said on Friday it secured a 65 percent rise in iron ore prices for 2008 from China's largest steelmaker Baosteel Group. - more

  China's crude steel output up 7.3 pct year-on-year in January - IISI

  • China produced 40.9 million tons of crude steel in January this year, up 7.3 percent from the same period last year, the International Iron and Steel Institute (IISI) announced in Brussels yesterday. - more

  EU mills push steel plate prices up again, but demand weakens

  • ArcelorMittal, Duferco and Reiner Brach are set to increase prices of hot-rolled reversing mill steel plate, despite indications in the market of weakening demand. - more

  Market Tendency On Imports Of Ferro-Alloys At 18th February 2008

  • A crisis of electricity supply attacked both countries of South Africa and China, as main bases to supply ferro-alloys, has deeply rooted. - more

  Brazil's Behemoth  by Time Magazine

  • Few companies offer a more stunning testimonial to the benefits of privatization--and fortuitous timing--than the formerly state-owned Brazilian mining firm Companhia Vale do Rio Doce. - more

  Russian/Norilsk Updates

  • Billionaire Alisher Usmanov's holding company ZAO Metalloinvest, Russia's largest producer of iron ore, wants to combine with OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel to create an $85 billion mining company. - more (background here)

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 126 tons = 47,958 tonnes (2.48% - 1188 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,770 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 244000-250000 RMB/t, plus  2000  (charts)
Thursday, February 21
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.87/lb 3 month buyer - $12.98/lb (8.98% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 83 to 6998. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 462 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 102 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, plus 96 tonnes into Baltimore, MD, USA warehouse
  • Metals, both base and precious, were green across the board today. "Commodities such as oil, metals and other natural resources are another traditional inflation hedge." If you understand that, then you know why so much fund money is pouring into base metals.  Here is how it works. Prices rise, inflation. Fund money pours into commodities and the prices rise further. Prices rise and you see....further inflationary risk. Go figure. Steven Merkel, CFP, writes in Investopedia that "Because commodities prices usually rise when inflation is accelerating, they offer protection from the effects of inflation. Few assets benefit from rising inflation, particularly unexpected inflation, but commodities usually do. As demand for goods and services increases, the price of goods and services usually rises too, as does the price of the commodities used to produce those goods and services." Harold Evensky, chairman of Evensky & Katz, a wealth management firm, explained it like this to CNN Money back in 2006 "High inflation is associated with booming economies. That means demand is typically rising for commodities, lifting their prices to the benefit of those invested in them. Inflation is the biggest risk to someone's retirement planning and the most ignored. It's too subtle and takes a long time for someone to realize it's bit you in the heinie." (source) Speaking of being bit in the heinie, after the biggest one day gain in LME nickel inventory so far this year, typically a 'bearish' turn of events, three month nickel ended the day at $13.27/lb  ($29,250/tonne).       
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Courtesy Dow Jones - "Brazil's Companhia Vale do Rio Doce hasn't raised an informal offer to buy Anglo-Swiss miner Xstrata PLC and no formal offer is imminent, a person close to Vale said Thursday."

  (from Eramet press release) Eramet Nickel: current operating income up 79% at EUR 693m. The current operating income of Eramet Nickel grew by 79% in 2007, to EUR 693m. The current operating margin came in at 54% of turnover, compared with 38% in 2006. This increase can be attributed mainly to the effect of higher selling prices. Nickel prices on the LME hit record highs in the 1st half 2007, topping 50,000 USD/tonne in May, before a steep downturn in the 2nd half 2007, when they stood on average at 29,700 USD/tonne (13.5 USD/pound). The nickel hedging programme applied to 31,700 tonnes in 2007, or about 57% of deliveries, at an average price of 21,100 USD/tonne (9.6 USD/pound). The two half-years also differed in terms of physical demand for nickel. After a 13% rise in the 1st half, global stainless steel production - the largest nickel consuming sector - dropped abruptly in the 3rd quarter 2007, before recovering gradually in the 4th quarter. Over the year, it grew by about 1.7%. Nickel deliveries by Eramet Nickel eventually exceeded the forecast we gave in August 2007, reaching 55,088 tonnes, thanks to the recovery in global demand for nickel in the 4th quarter 2007. Metallurgical production of nickel at Doniambo (New Caledonia) was 59,796 tonnes, down slightly (-4%) on 2006, due mainly to the decline in ore grade resulting from the effect of the strike in late 2006 and the programmed rebuilding of two calcining furnaces."

  (blurb) Chief executive Andre Wilkens said although the 10 percent cut in power implemented by Eskom would have “very, very little” damage on the group, the ferrochrome and ferromanganese smelters would be affected. - article here

  The Russian Copper Co, the country's third-largest copper producer, plans to invest $160 million building a complex to produce nickel in the Urals region of Chelyabinsk from 2009, the company said on Thursday. - more

  Copyright/courtesy RBC News - "Co-owner of Norilsk Nickel Vladimir Potanin is attempting to strengthen the company's position for a merger with United Company RUSAL by seeking a deal with Alisher Usmanov's Gazmetal, analysts told RBC. According to recent media reports, the Russian mining and metallurgical company is eyeing a merger with the leading metals company Gazmetal as an alternative to the deal with UC RUSAL. Analysts believe that Norilsk Nickel would be able to diversify its production as a result of the deal with Gazmetal. However, experts note that neither deal would be profitable for the metallurgical giant. Some analysts go as far as saying that Gazmetal could join in the merger of UC RUSAL and Norilsk Nickel, but question the possibility of existence of the new company."...."United Company Rusal is not in talks with Russian businessman Vladimir Potanin on the purchase of his stake in Norilsk Nickel, Viktor Vekselberg, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Russian aluminum giant, told RBC today. Therefore, he denied recent media reports that UC RUSAL had made a proposal to the co-owner of the Russian mining and metallurgical company to buy out his stake and pay for it with cash and UC RUSAL's shares." (and finally) "Metalloinvest chief executive Maxim Gubiyev said he was not aware of any plans to merge with JSC MMC Norilsk Nickel, but added that such a move would be an 'interesting step', Interfax reported. - more (talk about a soap opera - all because a rich guy had a party with hookers in France)

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.18/lb . We have misplaced our volume of "Excuses to Explain The Unexplainable", so we will leave it at that.
  • Bloomberg - more

  BMO Capital Markets "The Goods" - pdf here

  Stainless steel prices are moving higher and global economic uncertainty has yet to impact the sector, Juha Rantanen, chief executive of Finnish stainless steel company Outokumpu said on Thursday. - more

  WBMS January to December 2007 Metals Balances - pdf here

  World crude steel production for the 66 countries reporting to the International Iron and Steel Institute (IISI) was 113 million metric tons (mmt) in January. This is a 4.9% increase on January 2007. However the Moving Annual Total (MAT) growth rate slowed from a peak in March 2007 of 10.8% to 6.6% in January 2008. - more

  European steelmakers on Thursday blasted a massive hike in iron ore prices and called on EU regulators to block miner BHP Billiton Ltd.'s bid for rival Rio Tinto PLC. - more

  New Caledonian activists say they have this week applied for a court injunction to stop the Goro Nickel mining company from building a waste disposal pipe. - more

  A Chinese industry group on Wednesday denied the claims of a US study released last month, which stated that massive government energy subsidies had fueled the country's steel exports. - more

  Brazilian miner Vale has raised its bid for rival Xstrata to 47 pounds a share from 40 pounds and a formal statement of an offer is expected in the coming days, a source with direct knowledge of the merger talks said on Thursday. - more

  Eramet SA, operator of the world's largest ferronickel plant, said full-year profit climbed 82 percent after manganese surged. The shares rose to a record. - more

  Thanks to the reader who sent us a copy of a recent Patersons (Australian stockbroker) report on Mincor Resources. We would like to quote from their forecast for nickel from this report. "We understand banks are willing to hedge nickel at up to US$11/lb out to December 2013. With current spot at $13/lb the nickel price is quite flat out 5 years, leaving large upside to our long term price assumptions and valuations across the board. The floor below the nickel price is provided by the cost of incremental new production from nickel laterite mines, which require US$6/lb return on capex on top of circa US$6/lb operating costs (=US$12/lb). Meanwhile nickel pig iron will continue to keep a cap on any potential price spikes despite not altering the market.s balance at current prices."

  China produced 17.468 million tons of ferro-alloys in the calendar year ( January - December ) of 2007, having increased by 22.1% ( 3.16 million tons ) compared with that ( 14.303 million tons ) in the preceding year of 2006. The capacity to produce ferro-alloys in China is estimated at 22.00 million tons per annum and, as far as this capacity is taken into account, the operation rate in China for 2007 came to 79%. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 456 tons = 47,832 tonnes (2.68% - 1284 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,548 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 241000-249000 RMB/t, minus 2000   (charts)
Wednesday, February 20
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.54/lb 3 month buyer - $12.66/lb (6.3% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 238 to 7,081. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 276 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 66 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 24 tonnes from Vlissingen, Sweden, warehouse
  • Barry Ritholtz's blog 'The Big Picture' carried an article in his commodities section today titled "Inflating Our Way Into Recession". US housing starts came in, as expected, disappointing. Markets could best be described today as nervous. Nickel traders were playing blind man's bluff with each other today, trying to decide whether to hold for potential gains, or to fold and take some profits. After yesterday's influx of fund money, the market appeared to be a little nervous about which way the market might turn today. In reality, this stalemate proved to be just that, and the market did very little. As we indicated yesterday, we monitor three indicators daily, and today, two of the three weren't working properly. So we don't dare try to give you a run down of the dips and turns in the daily trades. Three month nickel ended the day at $12.75/lb ($28,100/tonne)   
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Standard Bank Commodities Weekly - pdf here

  Damstahl Stainless Steel Report - February 2008 - pdf here

  The Largo Letter (molybdenum) - pdf here

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "The global nickel market was in a surplus of 37,200 metric tons in 2007, the World Bureau For Metal Statistics said Wednesday. WBMS had said previously the global nickel market recorded a deficit of 50,000 tons in 2006. Refined production for the year totaled 1.464 million tons and demand was 1.427 million tons. The supply and demand data include low grade ferro nickel produced in China from imported ores previously excluded from WBMS data. The quantity of this material produced in the last three months has fallen due to lower availability of imported feed materials, WBMS said. Mine production rose 9.2% to 1.558 million tons from 2006 while refined production rose 7.5% with output increases in China, Finland and Canada accounting for most of the higher output. World demand was 32,000 tons higher. In December, nickel smelter production was 123,200 tons and consumption was 113,800 tons. "

  The interim update to the latest monthly Base Metals Markets Review from GFMS Metals Consulting, the base metals arm of the GFMS Group, notes that supply disruptions associated primarily with concerns over availability of power have been impinging heavily on the base metals markets, with constraint on production overshadowing concerns over the degree of economic slowdown in the United States. - more

  While average U.S. metal consumption per capita is nine times that of China and 15 times greater than in India, it is less influential on the global metal market than it has been in the past. - 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 $.09/lb . Yesterday's increase is apparently making traders a bit edgy today, and LME market is softer this morning. Market could still break either way, on profit taking or short covering, or drift until US housing starts and consumer confidence numbers are released, giving equity markets a direction. As we are publishing morning update, WBMS has just released report forecasting nickel market with a 37,200 tonne surplus in 2007. More to follow at noon
  • Bloomberg - more

  TD Bank Weekly Commodity Price Report - pdf here

  Karvy Comtrade Metals Insight (India market) - pdf here

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - ""With inflationary fears still very firmly at the front of people's minds and concerns over a recession in the U.S. having been absorbed, it appears that money continues to flow into commodities in general, as part of a wider program of asset re-allocation and as a hedge against inflation," says Standard Bank."

  According to the customs-statistics released in China, the total quantity of nickel ore imported into China in the calendar year ( January - December ) of 2007 came to 15,626,175 tons on material base, which had a remarkable increase of about 4.1 times compared with that ( 3,788,228 tons ) in the preceding year of 2006. - more

  China's consumption of crude steel in 2008 is expected to rise around 11 percent, representing an increase of some 44 to 50 million tons, the China Iron and Steel Association said in a statement. - more

  South Korean Posco is adding prices of its stainless steel 400 series. - more

  Courtesy AISI - "In the week ending February 16, 2008, domestic raw steel production was 2,144,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 89.9 percent. Production was 2,126,000 tons in the week ending February 16, 2007, while the capability utilization then was 89.5 percent. The current week production represents a 0.8 percent decrease from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending February 16, 2008 is up 1.2 percent from the previous week ending February 9, 2008 when production was 2,118,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 88.8 percent."

  The French government says it will grant a key nickel project in New Caledonia’s north tax exemptions worth 230 million US dollars. - more

  Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov has made a bid to merge his assets with Norilsk Nickel , a step that could complicate plans by RUSAL to gain control of the Russian metals giant. - more and another

  It's never been the custom of Russian hunters to speak of hitting two birds with one stone. Instead, the Russian expression is to kill two rabbits with one shot. - more

  The value of Philippine mineral production rose 33 percent in 2007 from the previous year as more projects came onstream and as metal prices continued to climb, official data on Wednesday showed. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 186 tons =  47,376 tonnes (2.74% - 1296 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,080 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 243500-250500 RMB/t, plus 2250  (charts)
Tuesday, February 19
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.59/lb 3 month buyer - $12.66/lb (6.3% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 62 to 7319. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 288 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 138 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse
  • All metals, base and precious, traded in the green today. Nickel spent pre-trading fairly tame, with little price change. But at the first ring, trading went north, until a sell off, occurring between the second and third ring, cooled things down. By the third ring, momentum returned and 3 month nickel shot up by nearly $700/tonne, only to retreat some at the 4th ring. Kerb trading was unusually quiet. For the day, three month nickel ended at $12.79/lb ($28,200/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more
  • Forbes - more

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "Base metal prices seen flat or falling in the short term, but for copper, lead, tin and aluminum, continued strong demand growth from the Middle East, China, and other Asian countries will fuel a recovery in prices before year end, says Investec Asset Management. Says delays to new supply and disruption to existing supply will also support a price recovery. But says at a time when rapid supply increases have been forecast, weaker demand growth from the developed world will spark concerns over large surpluses......Commodity demand growth will remain stronger than expected in the short-term because development in Asia and infrastructure spending generally will remain high, even if consumer spending slows in the US, says Investec Asset Management. Over the longer term, commodity prices will continue to move upwards, Investec notes, with high average rates of demand growth. Demand will be driven by the development and urbanization of China and India, while the renewal of old infrastructure in the West and new investment in infrastructure for alternative energy will provide a boost, Investec adds...."

  (offers new details) Brazilian mining giant Vale reached its first iron ore price deal for 2008 in Europe with German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp, which managed to secure a smaller price increase for high-quality ore than Japanese and South Korean steel mills. - more

   Taiwan's Investment Commission said Tuesday it gave its final approval to US$130 million worth of China-bound investments by Formosa Plastics Group and Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. (ASX). - more

  Korean steel giant POSCO said Tuesday that it has signed a deal with a major U.S. mineral developer to explore a central Nevada mine, considered to have one of the world's largest deposits of molybdenum, a key raw material for high-end steel products. - more

  Australia's Senior Trade Commissioner Rod Morehouse said Monday that Australian firms were prepared to invest more than US$4 billion in Indonesia's mining industry. - more

  Courtesy ROS Business Consulting - "If United Company RUSAL merges with Norilsk Nickel, the Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service intends to request the establishment of a metal exchange, head of the antitrust agency's industry control department Alexei Ulyanov told journalists today. While Ulyanov stated that the stock exchange was to be created within a year from the possible close of the deal, he did not say whether the antitrust watchdog would give the green light to the merger."

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.10/lb . Tropical Depression Nicholas has skirted the coast of western Australia and local miners are breathing a sigh of relief (more here).
  • Bloomberg - more
  • Globe and Mail - more
  • Forbes - more

  Haywood Security Metals & Mining - pdf here

  Behre Dolbear Global Mining News - pdf here

  Rand Merchant Bank Base Metals Weekly - pdf here

  The price of cars, refrigerators and buildings will rise this year after steelmakers agreed a dramatic increase in the price of their raw materials. - more

  According to the customs-statistics released in China, the total quantity of nickel ore imported into China in the calendar year ( January - December ) of 2007 came to 15,626,175 tons on material base, which had a remarkable increase of about 4.1 times compared with that ( 3,788,228 tons ) in the preceding year of 2006. - more

  Chinese media quotes representative with Tang Eng Iron Works Co., Ltd, as stating stainless steel demand in Taiwan was "not too good, but stabile, and rising slowly".

  The massive 65 percent price rise in iron ore agreed between Japanese and Korean steelmakers and leading Brazilian iron ore supplier Vale could set a 2008 benchmark for Chinese firms. - more

  French battery maker SAFT has hedged part of its nickel needs at prices up to $35,000 per tonne until the middle of this year but stands ready to raise prices for end-users if needed. - more

  Eskom’s plan to buy an additional 45 million tonnes of coal to replenish depleted stockpiles has been met with incredulity internationally, with analysts saying it overlooks severe global coal supply constraints, logistical challenges and price concerns. - more

  China's race to build roads, railways and airports speeds ahead. Democracy, says an official, would sacrifice efficiency - more

  There are more health concerns coming out the Port of Esperance on WA's south coast, this time possibly relating to nickel. - more

  Whereas work of installation of the pipe of Goro Nickel is in hand, six fishing vessels blocked a part of the building site, yesterday, in Nouville. - translated version here

  Cia. Vale do Rio Doce, the world's second-largest nickel producer, said its $3.2 billion Goro project on the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia will start initial operations by mid-year. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 150 tons = 47,190 tonnes (2.09% - 984 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,206 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 239500-250000 RMB/t, plus 1000  (charts)
Monday, February 18
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.43/lb 3 month buyer - $12.57/lb (5.54% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 143 to 7,355. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 324 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 96 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 6 tonnes from Singapore warehouse, minus 6 tonnes from Baltimore, MD, USA warehouse
  • While US and Canadian stock markets were closed today, the news was not good for manufacturers. A Texas refinery explosion today will mean U.S. gas prices, and thus freight costs, will continue to climb. Japanese and Korean steel produers agreed over the weekend to an astounding 65% increase in the price of iron ore, with news today, that Germany's ThyssenKrupp has agreed to the same. Worldwide steel prices will continue to increase, US recession or not. While iron ore makes up a much smaller part of the overall cost of stainless steel than nickel, the increase will add further upward pressure on the price of stainless. Australia's western mining region is under a Typhoon alert, while Madagascar is already losing lives to a Category 3 that hit that island, which has since dropped to a Tropical Storm over landfall. Three month nickel spent the trading day recoverying from a $400 drop beginning. The indicators we follow in the morning were all incorrect, and should have shown the market was flat at 8:00 am CST. The London Metal exchange does not allow its actual trading prices to be broadcast live, thus we follow three indicators for market trend and a morning trading cost. Typically, they are close, but today they all "screwed the pooch". Except for the initial drop, trading was very light and by the end of the day, LME nickel trading finished at $12.52/lb ($27,600/tonne)    
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  (India market) IL&FS Investsmart MetallicaWeekly - pdf here

   Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "With U.S. markets closed for President's Day holiday and China failing to return with a "bang" overnight from its Lunar New Year break, base metals are in a "hiatus waiting for fresh incentives," said a London-based trader."

  Prime Advantage, the leading buying consortium for small and midsized manufacturers, announced today the findings from its Group Outlook Survey, revealing the top economic concerns of these manufacturers in 2008. - more

  Courtesy Bloomberg - "Norilsk Nickel, the world's largest producer of the metal, said Friday that it might abandon plans to refinance a $2.5 billion loan used to fund its acquisition of Canada's LionOre Mining International. "It's not as easy to find money today as it was a year ago," said chief executive Denis Morozov. "There's an obvious liquidity crisis both abroad and in Russia."

  Isaac Newton supposedly went mad trying to find the philosopher’s stone – the legendary substance capable of transforming worthless materials into gold. - more

  During the War of Independence, America learned the painful lesson of reliance on foreign nations. The newborn United States had to rely on France and the Netherlands to supply everything from iron and gunpowder to blankets and clothing, and Britain routinely cut America’s supply lines. - more

  (and an interesting story that follows the last article by Stan Sudol) Canada and the United States have been economic and military allies for most of the 20th century, notwithstanding the bad chemistry between our leaders from time to time. - more

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.13/lb . With the third ring coming up next, three month nickel has been on a slow gradual recovery climb since pre-market trading. Big news over the weekend that Japanese, and Korean steel producers had agreed to a 65% increase in the cost of iron ore. This will have an effect on nearly everything produced from metal, including stainless steel.
  • Bloomberg - more

  It appears Nicholas has dropped back from a Category 1 Cyclone to a Tropical Storm, and has turned toward the Australian coast. Forecasters still warn residents the conditions are favorable for Nicholas to build back up to a  Category 2 Cyclone before it hits landfall. - more And across the Indian Ocean, the Ambatovy nickel mine ,under construction in Madagascar, may be on hold a few days, as Tropical Cyclone Ivan dumps excessive rain and heavy winds - more (followup - Rueters reports 11 dead in Madagascar / Ivan at category 3 strength. Storm threatening Mozambique.)

  In case to produce stainless steel, the cost to be shared for chrome is usually estimated at 8 - 9% in total of ferro-chrome and scrap ( according the data released in 2004 by Acerinox of Spain and Outokumpu of Finland ). - more

  Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (Vale), the world's largest iron ore producer, concluded the iron ore price negotiations for 2008 with Nippon Steel Corporation (NSC), the largest Japanese steelmaker, and POSCO, the largest Korean steelmaker. - more  and another  China hopes to rap up their negotiations by end of month - more

  SMM Special Weekly Forecast - of 39 analysts responding, 12 (31%) felt the price of nickel would rise this week, 16 (41%) felt the price would stay about the same as last, and 11 (28%) felt the price of nickel would fall this week.

  Opponents of the Goro Nickel mining project in New Caledonia are continuing to disrupt the construction of a waste disposal pipe. - more

  MySteel reported that most steel varieties have shown notable price uptrend at the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year but insiders warn that increasing uncertainties are casting shadow over the prospect of China's steel sector this year, such as spiking raw materials costs, heavy steel stock and output reduction etc. - more

  The outlook for the domestic steel industry looks bright, since India has good iron ore deposits, skilled man power and growing demand,says Seshagiri Rao , Director,Finance, JSW Steel. - more

  Japan's Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd raised the combined nickel production outlook at two plants in the Philippines by 10 percent to 22,000 tonnes a year, the company said on Monday. - more

  Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage Davila announced fresh investments to enhance productivity of Cuba"s nickel industry now in expansion. - more

  For bankers arranging the sale of Xstrata, the merger mine is not about to run dry. European newspapers have been full of stories this week (like this one and this one from the Financial Times) that could lead one to believe talks for the merger of Xstrata and Vale could soon go off the rails. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 216 tons = 47,040 tonnes (2.36% - 1,110 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 45,930 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 238500-249000 RMB/t, minus 2500   (charts)
Saturday, Sunday, February 16 & 17
  Japan's Nippon Steel has agreed to a 65 percent rise in the price it will pay for iron ore under term contracts, effective April 1, industry sources and a Chinese steel industry website said on Sunday. - more

  (from ScotiaCapital Daily Edge - China Update 2/15) "We have long been calling for a surge of lending in the first quarter of 2008, and this has been one of the key reasons that we were bullish for the global raw materials sectors. That said, the huge amount of loan growth in January still surprised us. We stress that the January loan growth is huge by any standard and is very bullish for global raw materials sectors. Going into the spring, when weather conditions improve in China, a lot of new projects will be launched, aided by the improved credit availability. In addition, rebuilding efforts for the infrastructure damaged during the snowstorm will only add to the strength of the construction boom and, in turn, China's raw materials demands."

  (excerpt) BHP is continuing to monitor the cyclone's path at its Port Hedland iron ore operation, spokeswoman Samantha Evans said. "Meanwhile, we've disconnected the Stybarrow and Griffin projects while we wait and see," she said.....Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton's takeover target and the world's second-largest exporter of iron ore, has suspended shipments of the steel making raw material at its ports in Australia's north-west. The Pilbara region is home to the world's second- and third-largest exporters of iron ore in Rio Tinto and BHP. - more

  (excerpt) “It’s an area that’s always been known for its nickel exploration. While the Langmuir #1 and #2 were never enormous producers, being relatively small mines, but the fact is that the nickel price and the cobalt prices -- all the other associated elements that go with nickel and copper -- are astronomical, and those are things that nobody ever looked at these deposits for.” - more

  Tropical Cyclone Nicholas has intensified off the northern coast of Western Australia. Nicholas is now a category 3 cyclone and lies approximately 375 kilometres north-north-east of Karratha. - more

  Ernst & Young Mining Eye - pdf here

  Reliance Money Commodities Insight added to "Daily Reports" in far right column

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

  Recent heavy snowfall may provide short-term support for base metal prices, however prices may face downward pressure in several months as supplies increase, analysts told Interfax today. - more

  Buying interest for spot moly oxide has risen this week in South Korea and Japan, due to mounting supply concerns as well as increased enquiries from European traders, sources said Thursday. - more

  Courtesy SteelGuru - "It is reported that in the first working week following Chinese Spring Festival, Chinese domestic steel prices have seen evident rise due to tight supply conditions arising out of low production. As a result most of the steel makers are holding export offer citing limited allocation and needs for more clear market situation as they are expecting higher realizations."

  Most mining companies have stopped their long-term projects because they are still unclear about the fate of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill which proposes drastic changes to the ownership structure in the mining sector. - more 

  Chelyabinsk Region’s environmental prosecution authorities filed an administrative suit against Ufaleynickel and demanded that the company must stop operating. - more

  Vale's finished nickel production reached an all-time high in 2007 at 247,900 mt last year, rising 5.6% from 234,700 mt in 2006, the Brazilian producer said Friday, adding that the figures highlighted the successful integration of the Canadian nickel producer Inco Ltd, acquired by Vale in October 2006. - more

  President Mwanawasa has invited mining companies opposed to the proposed tax regime to seek audience with Finance and National Development Minister N’gandu Magande and Mines Minister Kalombo Mwansa to show cause why the new taxes should not be effected. - more

  Mincor Resources has brought its seventh Kambalda nickel mine, the $28 million Carnilya Hill Project, into production on schedule and just 19 months after its discovery. - more

  About US$350 million [PGK981 million] will be committed to the Ramu Nickel mine project for full construction to take place this year, thus ensuring mine commissioning next year. - more

  The South African government is often urged to cut off power to Zimbabwe to force President Robert Mugabe to behave himself. But, strangely, it turns out that power actually flows the other way. - more

  The mining sector exported $2.1 billion worth of products -- gold, nickel, copper and silver -- last year, up 61 percent from $1.3 billion in 2006, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines reported. - more

  A corporate rivalry for control over the vast nickel resources of southern Palawan has drawn top local officials into the controversy and exposed glaring weaknesses in the government’s policies on mining. - more

  The royalty of the large pipe of Goro Nickel, L’ousting of Christiane Gambey of the GIE Tourism Not southern, L’Carsud business... After a very long absence of the territory, Philippe Gomès S’is expressed on the three great subjects polemical of the moment. While avoiding as much as possible the internal quarrels of L’Future together. Cumenic œGomès? - translated version here

  "Taiwan has given approval to the Formosa Plastics Group to build a stainless steel plant in China, according to newspaper reports Saturday. The China Times said the Economics Ministry approved Formosa Plastics' application to invest in the China plant on Friday. Taiwan still bans direct trade with China and firms must seek Taipei's approval to invest. Formosa Plastics plans to team up with the Fuxin Special Iron & Steel Co in Fujian Province, China, with Formosa Plastics and Fuxin each investing 100 million dollars. Equipment for the plant will be shipped to Fujian from Taiwan. The plant's managerial personnel will be Taiwanese."

  One legacy of South Africa's extensive mineral deposits is the infrastructure and wealth of the country. - more

  Investors - BMO Capital Markets 2008 Global Metals and Mining Conference - Florida - February 25 - audio webcast here  more info here

Friday, February 15
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.52/lb 3 month buyer - $12.61/lb (5.88% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 143 to 7,355. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 60 tonnes into Gothenburg, Sweden warehouse, minus 18 tonnes from Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse
  • Rather subdued day on the news front, with many investors licking their wounds from Bernanke's comment yesterday about the US economy getting worse before it will get better, and the markets continued negative reaction. Nickel was subdued most of the morning, trading below yesterday's close. After trading within a fairly tight range of less than $100/tonne, between the second and third ring, someone decided to take some profits and the price of nickel stumbled. Nothing dramatic however, and overall, the day was a snoozer. Three month nickel ended the day and week at $12.53/lb ($27,625/tonne). For the week, nickel dropped 2.1%, but remains 5.2% higher on the year. Today's ending price is 24.3% lower than the 2007 average, and 13.8% higher than the 2006 average.
  • Closing Metals Report - more
  • Have a wonderful and safe weekend!

  National Mining Association Mining Week - pdf here

  Vale produced 247,900 metric tons of refined nickel, up 5.6% from 234,700 tons in 2006. In the fourth quarter, Vale produced 69,000 metric tons of refined nickel, a 5.8% gain from 65,200 metric tons in the same quarter of 2006. - (more)

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "The board of Brazilian mining giant Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, or Vale, is expected to meet next week to discuss a possible bid for Anglo-Swiss group Xstrata PLC, local financial daily Valor Economico reported Friday. According to the report, Vale management is expected present financial details of its possible Xstrata bid to the full board. The board is then expected to make a decision whether to pursue a formal Xstrata bid, Valor reported, without citing a source."

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.02/lb . So far, nickel has spent pre and early market trading in the red, but just barely.  
  • Bloomberg - more
  • CNN - more
  • Forbes - more
  • Financial Times - more

  KBC Market Commodities Report - pdf here

  Reliance Money Commodities Insight - pdf here

  Standard Bank Market Comment - here

  Keep an eye on Tropical Storm Nicholas - it's aimed at a part of Australia, rich in mining, including iron ore and nickel - here

  SSINA Releases November Market Data - pdf here

  MySteel reported that on the backdrop of steelmakers across the world lifting prices of steel products to recoup escalating raw materials costs, Chinese steel price rally is expected to come at the end of February 2008. - more

  Scrap metal is big business, whether it is ferrous (iron and steel), nonferrous (other base metals), stainless steel, a special alloy or a precious metal. - more

  The country is losing Rs 1,50,000 crore to corrosion per annum, which is about 2%-4% of the gross national product (GNP). - more

  MEPS forecast that world steel production in 2008 at 1420 million tonnes. This equates to a 5.7% increase on our predicted outturn of 1343.5 million tonnes in 2007. - more

  About US$350 million [PGK981 million] will be committed to the Ramu Nickel mine project for full construction to take place this year, thus ensuring mine commissioning next year. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 42 tons = 46,824 tonnes (1.63% - 762 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,062 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 241500-251000 RMB/t, minus 250   (charts)
Thursday, February 14 (Happy Valentine's Day)
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.43/lb 3 month buyer - $12.45/lb (4.53% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 247 to 7,212. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 216 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 48 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 12 tonnes from Busan, South Korea warehouse, minus 186 tonnes from Singapore warehouse, minus 12 tonnes from Vlissingen, Sweden warehouse
  • Two points of interest today. First, when official prices were set after the second ring, only $50/tonne separated the cash and 3 month price. Second, Singapore took 186 tonnes out of LME warehouses. Worth watching to see if this is repeated. Nickel was in the green in pre-market trading, but between the first and second ring slumped into the red. Crawling back during the third ring into the green, it slumped in kerb trading to end the day in the negative. Three month nickel ended the day at $12.63/lb ($27,850/tonne).
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Standard Bank Market Comment - here

   Fortis Metals Monthly - pdf here

  Fortis Asian Metals Monthly - pdf here

  US Dec Nickel Imports -10.2% From Nov, +6.4% From Yr Ago - more

  US Dec Nickel Exports +27.4% From Nov, +51.5% From Yr Ago - more

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

  • Indications at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.16/lb . Trading was up early, but has fallen into the red at the rings.
  • Bloomberg - more

  Reliance Money Commodities Insight - pdf here

  Recycling International Market Analysis: Nickel and Stainless, January/February 2008 - pdf here

  Credit Suisse forecasts a worldwide iron ore supply deficit of between 20 million and 25 million metric tons in 2008 due to continued high demand from steel mills. Credit Suisse also predicted in January a 55% increase in annual iron-ore contract prices vs. a consensus forecast of a 35% hike.

  According to the customs-statistics released in China, the quantities of molybdenum products exported and imported by China in the calendar year ( January - December ) of 2007 were as per the tables (1) and (2) attached hereto. - more

  Buyers complain that demand in China is causing supply tightness and steep price inflation in the North American markets for metal scrap, iron ore, rare earths, copper, iron ore, nickel, metal castings and such alloys as ferrosilicon. - more

  The Specialty Steel Industry of North America today released statistical data on imports from China, U.S. consumption and import penetration for YTD November 2007 compared to the same 2006 eleven-month period. - more

  MEPS forecasts world steel production in 2008 at 1420 million tonnes. This equates to a 5.7 percent increase on our predicted out turn of 1343.5 million tonnes in 2007. - more

  The Southern Province Government in New Caledonia says a mining waste disposal pipe poses no threat to the environment. - more

  Switzerland's Glencore International did not build a lucrative metals empire only to give up its dominance to the first bidder that came along, market participants said yesterday. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 42 tons = 46,782 tonnes (1.55% - 726 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,056 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 242000-251000 RMB/t, plus 250  (charts)
Wednesday, February 13
  Update - Residents in Australia's remote Pilbara mining region were warned on Wednesday that a cyclone gaining intensity could hit by the weekend. - more

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up

  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.52/lb 3 month buyer - $12.61/lb (5.88% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 253 to 6,965. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 192 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 324 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 18 tonnes from Busan, South Korea warehouse, minus 24 tonnes from Vlissingen, Netherlands warehouse
  • Lot of interesting news posted below. Nickel spent much of pre-trading and early morning trading in the red, falling as low as nearly $700/tonne on pre-market. Then at the 4th ring, traders took nickel green for a few minutes, before kerb trading pulled the price back into the red zone. Three month nickel ended the day at $12.70/lb ($28,000/tonne).
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Standard Bank Weekly Commodity Research - pdf here

  Courtesy Financial Times - "In an interview with the Financial Times, Vivek Tulpulé, Rio’s chief economist, said some commodities “have yet to reach their cyclical peaks” even though prices have now been rising for five years. He said that it was “very possible” that prices would rise later this year or in early 2009 as the US economy recovers. Combined with continued strong demand from China, this would “create a bounce in consumption that people just don’t see coming” “When it happens it will shock people,” Mr Tulpulé said." (while bullish investors may eat this kind of talk up, we would feel a lot more comfortable if it came from another mining company. Since BHP made a hostile offer for Tinto, we have heard nothing but how great things are going to be for Tinto stockholders from Tinto executives, if they reject the offer. Mining companies have had a much better forecasting record over the past decade than mining analyst's have had, but Tinto's motive's are questionable in making these kind of predictions.)

  Ferrochrome might rise more than 24 percent in the second quarter on more orders and power-related production cuts in South Africa, the largest supplier of the raw material used in stainless steel, Samancor Chrome chairman Danko Konchar said yesterday - more

  (from last month) Stainless Steel and Molybdenum - pdf here

  A nickel-refining test plant in southern Newfoundland will close in June, three years before a permanent facility will open to process nickel mined at Voisey's Bay, employees have been told. - more

  BHP Billiton Ltd./Plc, the world's third-largest nickel producer, has agreed to jointly study development of a mine and metal processing plants in Indonesia with local miner PT Antam Tbk ANTM.JK. The agreement calls for a joint study into the development of the Buli nickel deposit and related processing facilities on Halmahera Island in northern Indonesia, Antam said." - more (curious if this the secret "Pearl" nickel project that BHP has reportedly been working toward in Indonesia. Since December, while BHP has refused media requests for further information, it has been quietly posting adds for new mine management staff on its website. They have denied it had anything to do with their Indonesian Gag Island project, which has been on hold for years. Speculation began in December when a presentation was given by BHP CEO Marius Kloppers, and a slide mentioned an over $2 billion dollar investment being made in an "eastern Indonesia facility"(more). Rio Tinto, a takeover target of BHP, has been in negotiations with the Indonesia government for years, over the La Sampala nickel deposit on the borders of Southeast and Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. In December of 2007, Tinto advised the Brisbane Times that they were in "final" negotiations with Indonesia, who had already approved the project earlier that year. More to come.)

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "South African power company Eskom Holdings Ltd. has told its largest customers, including gold and platinum mining companies, that it may not be able to supply more than 90% of their usual electricity load for up to four years, a spokesman said Wednesday.  "As we stand at the moment, that looks like it will be the case for the next four years," Eskom's Andrew Etzinger said. "

  The recent stake participation bid by the Aluminum Corporation of China (Chinalco) and Alcoa for Rio Tinto may spur other Chinese state-run enterprises to make similar moves in order to offset the perceived negative impact from a possible BHP-Rio merger, despite Rio's rejection of BHP's most recent bid, analysts told Interfax today. - more

  In last November’s Ontario Speech from the Throne, the Liberals highlighted their commitment, “to improve the quality of life and expand economic opportunities for all Aboriginal peoples in our province, both on- and off-reserve.” - more

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "Anglo-Swiss mining group Xstrata PLC and its controlling shareholders are seeking $95 billion from Brazilian suitor Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, or Vale, local financial daily Valor Economico reported Wednesday. According to the paper, Vale signaled to Xstrata's leading shareholder, Glencore International AG, that it was willing to formalize a $76 billion offer. On Monday, the Financial Times reported that Xstrata and Glencore had rejected Vale's informal $76 billion offer. While Vale remained very interested in a tie-up with Xstrata, the price demands have somewhat cooled Vale's ardor, Valor said. "

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.05/lb . Three month nickel has been struggling in the red all morning.
  • Bloomberg - more

  Standard Bank Market Comment - here

  KBC Commodities Report - pdf here

  Reliance Money Commodities Insight - pdf here

   (clip from article) In an interview with the Financial Times, Vivek Tulpulé, Rio’s chief economist, said some commodities “have yet to reach their cyclical peaks” even though prices have now been rising for five years. He said that it was “very possible” that prices would rise later this year or in early 2009 as the US economy recovers. Combined with continued strong demand from China, this would “create a bounce in consumption that people just don’t see coming”. “When it happens it will shock people,” Mr Tulpulé said. - more

  Courtesy IBDaily - "But also should see, the ferro-nickel iron smelting cost relative is higher, specially China imports red soil nickel ore, smelting cost mostly above $25,000 US dollars/tons. Therefore, the relative higher production cost has suppressed the space which the nickel price falls. Although in the future 12 years the nickel price will innovate the high possibility not to be big, but will maintain at 25,000 ~3.5 ten thousand US dollars/ton sectors top digits possibility is very big." (comment - not sure who the actual writer of this is, but if Chinese analysts accept the current price range as lasting over a long period, then we may see Chinese stainless steel producers fire back up)

  German industrial group ThyssenKrupp expects its stainless steel division to return to profit in the fiscal second quarter to end-March after two straight quarters of losses, the company said on Wednesday. - here

  Japan exported 219,760 tons of stainless steel scrap in 2007, decreasing by 25.9 percent than 296,612 tons in the same time of last year. - more

  As Brazil's Cia. Vale do Rio Doce ponders a European acquisition valued at as much as $90 billion, a debate at home is simmering about whether the deal would serve Brazil's best interests. - more

  The domestic stainless steel industry has called for the duty structure on basic inputs going into the manufacturing of the product to be scrapped. - more

  New Caledonian activists say they’ll try to stop a Goro Nickel mining company plan to build an underwater waste disposal pipe. - more

  The Narra Nickel Mining and Development Corporation (NNMDC), a subsidiary of the Canadian company MBMI Resources, Inc. operating in Narra, Palawan is set to ship out 50,000 dry metric tons of raw nickel materials to China by March. - more

  Xstrata became the fifth Australian miner to declare force majeure on coal shipments from the northeastern state of Queensland due to recent heavy rain, which other Australian producers said were hampering recovery in their operations this week. - more

  ISSF has produced a leaflet which answers some basic questions on stainless steel rebar: Why use stainless steel reinforcing bar? - pdf here

  The International Iron and Steel Institute has renewed its formal request that all relevant competition authorities review the proposed alliance between BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. - more

  The world's third-largest miner Rio Tinto said Wednesday its full-year net profit fell almost two percent in 2007 to 7.312 billion US dollars as it again rejected a takeover bid by rival BHP Billiton. - (more) Rio Tinto on Wednesday called on BHP Billiton to raise its already-sweetened takeover offer if it hopes to lure the miner into talks. - (more)

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 174 tons = 46,824 tonnes (2.02% - 948 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 45,876 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 241500-251000 RMB/t, plus 750  (charts)
Tuesday, February 12
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.61/lb 3 month buyer - $12.72/lb (6.8% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 192 to 6,712. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 180 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 1500 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse
  • LME warehouse activity, both in and outbound, was limited to Rotterdam. Market was very subdued today, trading within a small range. We speculate traders are waiting to see what Chinese traders do upon their return tonight in Shanghai. Posted a presentation below by VM Group that is well worth a read. They forecast nickel could be trading over $11.30/lb for some time to come, with possible spikes to the $18/lb range. Jessica also covers another point, that we have touched on briefly in the past, but that few seem to cover. Many of the 1.3 billion citizens of China have learned what personal wealth means, or are noticing their neighbors that have. China may need to cool its rate of growth, per JP Morgan today, but it is traveling on a very slippery slope. Is it not "glorious to be rich" as the Chinese Communist Party proclaims? Can it really afford to slow down without sowing the seeds of political instability? Doubtfully! For the day, three month nickel ended the day at $12.75/lb ($28,100/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more
  • On Friday, we posted links to parts 1 and 2 of "China Rises", an amazing documentary on the change in China. For those interested, here are part 3 here and part 4 here (part 4 covers the remarkable change in Shanghai)

  (Comment - on Feb 4th, Jessica Cross, CEO of the VM Group, formerly Virtual Metals, gave a presentation to Mining Indaba 2008 on the Outlook for Nickel. Media reports mentioned her companies forecast of the $25,000 tonne level being well established over the next few years, with occasional spikes to $40,000/tonne possible, but much of her presentation was not covered. VM Group posted it on their web site today, and it is worth reading - for stainless steel producers, investors, miners, etc. We are concerned they did not mention Onca Puma as a mega project beginning production in 2008-9, and wonder if this would have an effect on their findings.) Mining Indaba 2008: The Outlook for the International Nickel Market Presentation - word document here

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "The world is going to be "raw material challenged" in the next decade, says JP Morgan, adding the companies involved in M&A activity currently underway are conscious output constraints will return once there is synchronized global growth again. Moving into the next decade, JP Morgan says aluminum and stainless steel will have a "strong growth profile" due to expected emerging market growth.....China has a real inflation problem and if China's economy slows more than is expected, then that could weigh on metals demand more than anticipated, says JP Morgan. The bank forecasts metal demand growth to range between 13% and 22%, but China's economy is becoming a "normalized economy" and needs time to cool down."

  World Bank Commodity Markets Review - pdf here

  According to reports by SOGRA, Japanese imports of ferromolybdenum in 2007, amounted to 3234 tonnes - the lowest rate since 1999, when imports were estimated at 2192 tons.

  Oriel Resources has launched the remaining two furnaces at its Russian ferro-chrome smelter after a short delay relating to high raw material prices, and now expects capacity to hit 148,000 tonnes a year. - more

  India's industrial production grew faster than economists estimated in December as record investment in factories, roads and power plants boosted demand for cement and steel. - more (thanks CO)

  A new European law on the handling of metals and chemicals is likely to cost metals firms billions of dollars and the exact terms of the new rules are still unclear, an industry conference heard late on Monday. - more

  Switzerland''s Glencore International AG hasn''t built a lucrative metals empire only to relinquish its dominance to the first bidder that comes along, market participants said Tuesday. - more

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling at no change from yesterday . The Financial Times is reporting Vale and Xstrata are not doing well in merger talks. And BHP is waiting to see Rio Tinto get a little mud in their face tomorrow, when Tinto announces quarterly results. Tinto, typically a quiet company, has gone on a PR blitz since BHP made their offer, trying to convince Tinto stockholders they are better run alone. Tomorrow's results are expected to show Tinto has not benefited as well as some of their other competitors from high metals prices.  Nickel is quiet today, with China traders returning to work tomorrow.
  • Bloomberg - more

  Behre Dolbear Global Mining News - pdf here

  Reliance Money Commodities Insight - pdf here

  TD Bank Weekly Commodity Price Report - pdf here

  Canada Commodity Price Update - pdf here

  The review of China stainless pipe capacity expansion for 2007 is as follow. - more

  L’State submitted with administrative justice the decision of the Southern province to tax 1 % with the figure D’businesses of Goro Nickel. The royalty decided in January by the province has lead in L’wing. - translated article here

  Outokumpu said it will form a stainless steel tubular joint venture with Saudi Arabia's Armetal to meet the market need of stainless steel in the Middle East. - more

  The temperature climbs between trade unions, especially between the CSTNC and FO. In line of sight, professional elections operated next July with the SLN, first private company of the country. - translated article here

  Miner Xstrata has rejected a cash-and-shares takeover approach from Brazil's Vale pitched at just under 40 pounds a share, or 39 billion pounds ($76 billion), the Financial Times said.- more and another

  Growth in the Southern African stainless steel industry slowed in the second half of 2007 as a result of higher stock and material price levels and nickel price volatility. - more

  Steel production in the United Arab Emirates will double to 10 million tonnes per year by 2010 as the second-largest Arab economy reduces its reliance on oil, Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Economy, said yesterday. - more

  Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said Monday it lifted Allegheny Technologies Inc.'s credit ratings out of junk status, citing strong demand for the specialty metal producer's products. - more

   Courtesy AISI - "In the week ending February 9, 2008, domestic raw steel production was 2,118,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 88.8 percent. Production was 2,126,000 tons in the week ending February 9, 2007, while the capability utilization then was 89.5 percent. The current week production represents a 0.3 percent decrease from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending February 9, 2008 is down 0.7 percent from the previous week ending February 2, 2008 when production was 2,134,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 89.5 percent."

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 30 tons = 46,998 tonnes (2.36% - 1110 tonnes cancelled warrants/  45,888 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - (closed for holiday) (charts)
Monday, February 11
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.70/lb 3 month buyer - $12.80/lb (7.47% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 167 to 6,520. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 300 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 288 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, plus 30 tonnes into Gothenburg, Sweden warehouse
  • Much of the movement over the next few days will be traders speculating on what Shanghai traders might do when they return to work on Wednesday. Nickel trading started up early in pre-trade, but lost its momentum at first ring. Three month nickel ended the day at  $12.75/lb ($28,100/tonne) 
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Haywood Securities Metals & Mining Weekly - pdf here

  KBC Commodities Report - pdf here

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "CTA or momentum buying that took LME metals higher early Monday faded into the afternoon session as profit taking kicked in, says Standard Bank analyst Leon Westgate. Says Wednesday is the big day, with Chinese consumers potentially selling copper strongly on their return from Lunar New Year."

  Canadian Mineral Exploration firm Mindoro Resources Ltd. said it was looking at the possibility of locally processing the ore from its Agata nickel laterite projects instead of shipping it out to buyers. - more

  Approximately 150 people took part in the picnic of protest of the coordination of defense of the South, Saturday, close to course N’Endowed. Objective: to denounce the installation of the large pipe and to show that associations follow closely the project Goro Nickel. - translated version here

  China will shut coal-fired power plants, cement factories and chemical manufacturers near Beijing to reduce pollution before the Olympic Games in August - 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

  Rusal’s co-owner Viktor Vekselberg has no doubt that the merger of the aluminum giant with Norilsk Nickel will succeed. However, the deal is far from completion. - more

  Euro Inox has introduced 5 new cases studies on its website

  • Renovation of the Atomium in Brussels - here
  • Bridge in Cala Galdana on Menorca - here
  • Milan Trade Fair - here
  • Vauxhall Cross Bus Station in London - here
  • Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff - here

  Charmaine White Face thinks there's enough sun and wind in South Dakota for all of America's energy needs. That's why she doesn't think mining for uranium is a good idea, even if uranium mining officials in Wyoming and South Dakota say that there's no danger to anybody from their underground uranium leach mines, and that America needs uranium to reduce its intake of foreign oil. - 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 $.07/lb . Official prices for today are posted at the bottom of this page.
  • Bloomberg - more

  Thanks to another ice storm turning a normal 20 minute commute to work into a hour and a half long expedition, the morning update is small and we will give you a full update at noon.

  Desjardins Report - "Commodities stand up to the darkening economic outlook" - pdf here

  Reliance Money Commodities Insight - pdf here

  Courtesy/copyright Dow Jones - "The recent rally across the base metal complex, led by copper, is attracting momentum buyers and fueling further gains Monday, says Barclays Capital. Says tighter credit conditions and higher borrowing costs, combined with escalating project capital and operating costs, are beginning to cast a shadow over some new mining projects."

  PT International Nickel Indonesia INCO.JK said on Monday its nickel output in 2007 rose 7 percent to 169 million pounds, or 76,675 tonnes, from a year ago despite a workers' strike in November. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 42 tons = 46,968 tonnes (2.61% - 1224 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 45,744 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - (closed for holiday) (charts)
Saturday, February 9 & 10 (Weekend Update)
  The mining industry has some gritty and colourful characters in its ranks - big Mick Davis, the chief executive of nickel producer Xstrata, is said to have devoured an entire turkey at a Christmas lunch in Johannesburg a few years ago - but even these larger-than-life folk are astonished at the wave of mega-mergers and rumours of takeovers that are sweeping through the sector. - more

  Standard Bank Commodities Weekly - pdf here

  Reliance Money Commodities Report - pdf here

  National Mining Association Mining Week - pdf here

  It is reported that Ms Gloria Macapagal Arroyo president of Philippines announced the creation of a special army unit to protect mines, plantations and power transmission lines on the troubled southern island of Mindanao. - more

  US Department of Commerce, which published the preliminary results of the administrative review of the antidumping duty order on stainless steel sheet and strip in coils from Mexico on August 6th 2007, has announced final results in the matter. - more

  The Union steel ministry has decided to work out the ratio between rise in input costs and the extent of recent price hike announced by domestic steel majors, ahead of a crucial meeting of steel companies called by the ministry next week to review the hike. - more

  Xstrata shareholder Glencore is concerned about the terms of a proposed 50 billion pound ($97.5 billion) merger between Xstrata and Brazilian miner Vale, The Sunday Telegraph reported. - more

  IN keeping with the size of the prize, BHP Billiton’s pursuit of rival mining group Rio Tinto looks set to be a marathon affair. Last week Marius Kloppers, BHP’s chief executive, finally took the wraps off the £76 billion takeover offer. - more

  According to the data released by US authority in December, the import in the month of stainless steel plates and semi-finished products declined than it in November, 2007 as well as than the same period of 2006. - more

  China nickel pig nickel smelter goes public - contains some interesting info - pdf here

  Researched by Industrial Info Resources (Sugar Land, Texas)--Although prices may fall in the short-term to midterm, major stainless and nickel alloy steel manufacturers continue to gear up for strong markets and rising prices in the long-term. - more

  The massive deal that China signed with the Democratic Republic of Congo last year is not the "second colonisation" that some Europeans allege it is. The agreement appears, in fact, a promising way to kick-start an economy. - more

  Courtesy Steel Insights - "Viraj Profiles Ltd, India's largest and the world's sixth largest manufacturer of stainless steel long products, is currently on a massive expansion spree. In the first phase in 2005-06, the company, which is part of the Viraj Group, has set up a new steel melting shop and a new wire rod mill with technical assistance from VAI Pomini of Italy. With the commissioning of the new melting shop, the melting capacity has gone up to 3,50,000 tons per annum (tpa) of stainless steel."

  There is a downside to the booming mining economy in Greater Sudbury. Smaller businesses are losing skilled workers to better paying jobs at local mining companies and their suppliers. - more

  A Chinese city lying across the Yalu River from North Korea has announced plans to accelerate the construction of the first new road bridge to span the river in more than half a century. - more

  But the Super Pit, in historic Kalgoorlie-Boulder in Western Australia, is also eating the booming city it is helping sustain and literally shaking its residents to their foundations. - more

  Tomorrow the Johannesburg high court will be the venue for the opening salvo in a legal battle to determine whether former mine workers, who have contracted occupational lung disease due to negligence on the part of mine owners, are entitled to sue their former employers for damages. - more

  Will prosperous farm and mining sectors help Minnesota weather the economic storm? Perhaps, but we should not count on it. - more

  National Geographic - Mining the New Amercian West - video here

  Journeyman Pictures - Copper Theft in South Africa - video here

Friday, February 8
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.41/lb 3 month buyer - $12.52/lb (5.12% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 218 to 6,353. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 180 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 36 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse
  • Price of nickel started out trading in the green in pre-market, and thru the first two rings was trading around $350/tonne higher. Then the third ring hit and the price of nickel soared - by nearly $900/tonne. Copper price rose to a nine month high on short covering, and nickel played follow-the-leader. Some analysts are reporting there are more copper shorts that may need to cover, so nickel may have room to go higher, even if there are no "fundamental" reasons for the jump. Three month nickel ended the day and week at $12.79/lb ($28,200/tonne)   
  • Closing Metals Report - more
  • Since Valentine's Day is Thursday here in the good old U.S. of A, and with my better half being of Italian descent, I thought I would post a youtube video that could possibly bring back a lot of childhood memories for her fellow American Italian's. Video here
  • And you can watch a few episodes of an amazing Canadian Broadcasting special called "China Rises" here - (in case you were wondering where all that nickel was going) - Part 1 Part 2  (it shows that it is a 4 part series, but only parts 1 and 2 are posted)
  • Have a wonderful - and safe - weekend!  

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "LME lead and nickel moved above key resistance levels which triggered further buying, following in copper's rise, says a London-based trade house analyst."...."Improving demand from the stainless sector will lend short-term support to LME nickel prices but prices are set to resume their downtrend by late '08, says Societe Generale's Stephen Briggs. Adds that nickel may reach back above $30,000 a metric ton "if and when the stainless steel cycle turns more convincingly," but low s of $25,000/ton are seen by year-end. Notes that the role of the high-cost Chinese nickel pig iron industry is becoming less critical over time, leaving $20,000/ton a possible target in '09."

   Dow Jones  updated their Europe Base Metal Physical Prices. As of 2/7 Nickel Cathode 4 x 4 (Russian) +350/550 and Nickel Russian Uncut +150/250. (European base metal cash price expressed as a differential over the London Metal Exchange settlement price on the day of update, in dollars a metric ton. All prices are Dow Jones free market assessment of actual spot transactions and are quoted in-warehouse, unless otherwise specified)

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "Brazilian miner Companhia Vale do Rio Doce , or Vale, is ready to make its bid for Anglo-Swiss mining group Xstrata PLC, but is waiting on completion of 2008 iron ore price talks and possible intervention by Chinese investors, the local Estado news agency reported Friday...... According to the report, Vale wants to complete negotiations with global steelmakers on 2008 iron ore price contracts in order to strengthen its financial picture. Market watchers expect iron ore prices to rise at least 50%."

  Glencore is seeking advice from Citigroup and Morgan Stanley on options for its 35 per cent stake in Xstrata, the Anglo-Swiss mining group. - more

  The "new" factor in nickel fundamentals.....

(copyright Citigroup - from Commodity Heap  8 Feb 2008)

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.14/lb . All of the LME based metals are in the green this morning, apparently piggy backing the markets enthusiasm for copper, which is selling at a three month high.
  • Bloomberg - more

  Standard Bank Market Comment - here

  Reliance Money Commodities Insight - pdf here

  Jyske Bank Commodities Briefing - pdf here

   Courtesy Stahl - "The world steel market grew by about 6% in 2007 and will grow by about 7% in 2008. Thus demand for rolled steel will rise to 1.28 bn. tonnes in 2008. This would be an increase of 84 million tonnes compared to the previous year. World steel production could reach 1.4 bn. tonnes in 2008." - graph here

  It is reported that stainless steel council of China special enterprises association has published statistics about the country's stainless steel output, imports, exports and consumption in last year. - more

  ArcelorMittal Stainless and Nickel Alloys of France joins hands with Auerhammer Metallwerk GmbH of Germany and Shivalik Bimetal of India to form a new company, Innovative Clad Solutions, to manufacture and market clad metal products across the world. - more

  Kolkata-based Rohit Ferro Tech is planning forward integration into stainless steel manufacturing, reports DNA. - more

  Terra Nostra Resources Corporation TNRO, a majority owner of two joint venture companies in the copper and stainless steel industries in China, today announced that its stainless steel joint venture, Shandong Quanxin Stainless Steel Co. Ltd., is now manufacturing continuous cast 310S-grade stainless steel, with the first production order shipped in January. - more

  Some 10,000 German metal workers walked off the job on Thursday as a strike for higher wages gained momentum and shut down several production plants, unions said. - more

  The Kolskaya GMK, a regional subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel in Murmansk Oblast, might fire as many as 5000 people over the next five years, company leader Yevgenii Potapov said during a visit to the town of Zapolyarny this week. - more

  Why does BHP really want to tempt the dragon? Chinalco has already made the message clear: they really do not want to see a merger. You're not going against a corporation. You're going against a nation." - more

  Brazil's government will press to make certain that control of Vale do Rio Doce remains in Brazilian hands but doesn't see any other obstacles in ongoing takeover talks between the mining giant and Anglo-Swiss mining group Xstrata PLC, a top Brazilian official said Thursday. - more  and more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 144 tons = 46,926 tonnes (3.12% - 1,464 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 45,462 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - (markets closed) (charts)
Thursday, February 7  Happy New Year - Year of the Rat
  Afternoon Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.00/lb 3 month buyer - $12.11/lb (1.68% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 133 to 6,135. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 210 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 138 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 36 tonnes from Singapore warehouse, minus 24 tonnes from Liverpool, England warehouse
  • Reports out of the US today were rather negative. Pending home sales fell more than expected, while new jobless claims rose more than expected. Dollar slumped again against the Euro. Nickel was erratic in pre-market trading, then slumped in early rings, before beginning a slow recovery after 1 pm. By the 3rd ring it had climbed into the green, but just barely, and in the 4th ring, began to slump again. Then in PM kerb trading, it took off, gaining nearly $500/tonne in just a few minutes. Movement like this, with no major news affecting supply/demand fundamentals, could mean some short covering, as the price of nickel came very close to falling below where it started the year. For the day, three month nickel ended trading at $12.43/lb ($27,400/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Global nickel prices will be pegged back by rising production and high stock levels, despite signs of a pick-up in demand from the key stainless steel sector, analysts say. - more

  Courtesy Dow Jones - "Russia exported 255,600 metric tons of nickel in 2007, 1.6% less than in 2006, the federal customs service reported Thursday.   The exported nickel was worth $8.656 billion, compared with $5.893 billion in 2006."

  Ernst & Young - Mining & Metals "Backpedaling on the cycle"- pdf report here

   Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "Brazil's government will press to make certain that control of Vale do Rio Doce (RIO) remains in Brazilian hands but doesn't see any other obstacles in ongoing takeover talks between the mining giant and Anglo-Swiss mining group Xstrata PLC, a top Brazilian official said Thursday."

  US Dept of Homeland Security - What Every Member of the Trade Community Should Know About : Heading of Fasteners - pdf here

  NASA scheduled Shuttle launch set for 1:45 pm CST today - watch it live here

  USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries 2008 - pdf here

  Everything to do with mining is impressively vast. It is an industry that makes huge holes in the ground and relies on trucks with tires the size of houses. - more

  Yesterday we reported that the Turkey's Yildirim Group had possibly acquired Swedish based Vargön Alloys. We were sent Swedish media reports from Monday that confirmed this report. - 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 $.05/lb . Pre-market trading saw nickel down by nearly $100/tonne, then up by over $400/tonne, then back to where it started. By the second ring, the price of three month nickel had fallen into the red. News this morning is on the shallow side. Most of the media seems to be centered on the hostile bid by BHP for Rio Tinto. We will try to wrap it up for you in a few words, instead of linking to a bunch of articles that say the same thing.
  • BHP - "Will you marry me?"
  • Rio Tinto - "Not hardly! Ring isn't big enough."
  • Bloomberg - more

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "With Chinese New Year celebrations this week, Barclays analyst Sudakshina Unnikrishnan expects thin, quiet trading conditions over the next few days, with broader markets being "the key driver" for base metals direction this week. "

  Ernst & Young says metals analysts’ prediction of metal prices “have consistently and significantly lagged behind the actual spot market,” and that mining and metals equities have been undervalued. - more

  Finland's Outokumpu Oyj Thursday said in order to improve service to French stainless steel customers, and in line with the strategy to increase sales to end-users and project customers, it will expand its stock and processing capability in France. - more

  ArcelorMittal Stainless and Nickel Alloys, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ArcelorMittal, on Thursday announced a tripartite joint venture with Germany's Auerhammer Metallwerk GmbH and India's Shivalik Bimetal Controls to set up a metal cladding plant at an investment of Rs 40-50 crore. - more

  German union IG Metall has called its members to join warning strikes on the production site of ThyssenKrupp AG's stainless steel division in Dusseldorf tomorrow to back demands for higher wages. - more

  Information on this site is available at no charge thanks to our corporate sponsors. Rick Kauffman, VP of Sales from Duraloy Technologies, reports - “Duraloy had a record year for sales and shipments in 2007, with strong performances in specialty products like retorts and calciners, continued growth in our tunnel furnace rolls for the steel industry, as well as rolls and furnace components for continuous galvanizing and annealing lines. We are starting 2008 with a record backlog and projecting another good year in steel and petrochemical products.” Call Duraloy, an ISO 9001 company, for your static and centrifugal castings.  

  Mining accounts for seven per cent of Australia's gross domestic product, contributing more than $500 billion to national wealth during the past 20 years. - more

  Zimbabwe's draft mining bill will not force firms to give a stake to the government for free as previously feared, and will be debated by parliament after elections next month, a senior official said on Thursday. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 12 tons = 46,782 tonnes (2.71% - 1266 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 45,516 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - closed for holiday (charts)

Wednesday, February 6 (only 8 days till Valentine's Day)
  Afternoon Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $11.97/lb 3 month buyer - $12.11/lb (1.68% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 30 to 6,002. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 204 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 24 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 36 tonnes from Singapore warehouse, minus 24 tonnes from Liverpool, England warehouse,
  • LME nickel inventories returned to their gaining ways overnight. While the totals are approaching a psychological 50,000 tonne mark, we wonder if the market will hit it. Outbound activity has picked up since the first of the year, and if China returns from their holiday with any gusto, we could see the build-up evaporate. We keep saying pig nickel production will keep nickel prices honest, but with the recent power problems China has been suffering, and the Olympics approaching, we could see the Chinese government clamp down on power hungry and polluting pig nickel smelters. At this point, its hard to tell what may or may not happen. On the other hand, if China does not come back with any renewed vigor, it is possible we could see the inventories build further, as Norilsk ships in anticipation of the annual floods in May that shut down their outbound shipments. A lot of "what if's" abound, and even though 47,000 tonnes of "surplus" inventory sitting in LME warehouse sounds like a lot, in the scheme of worldwide daily usage, it's uncomfortably low. Most would agree that the reason it has grown as high as it has, is because of a general slowdown in stainless steel production, which has only recently shown signs of life, primarily in Europe. While other base and precious metals spent the day trading in the green, nickel spent nearly all of pre-trade and the trading session in the red. But not to be outdone, it jumped out of the red before the session ended.  We feel this was primarily due to the European equities markets trading in the green, and the extra attention the BHP - Rio Tinto potential merger has on the industry as a whole. Three month nickel ended the day at $12.16/lb ($26,800/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Purchasing Dept - it is possible you may see some delays in FedEx shipments after last night's rash of killer tornadoes has caused disruptions and flight delays in their Memphis, TN hub.

  Metals Watch - Feb issue - here

  Mining analysts are missing the mark in their predictions for a sharp decline in metal prices, according to a report from Ernst & Young. - more

  International Ferro Metals said on Wednesday it plans to build three new ferrochrome smelters in South Africa to boost output to 650,000 tonnes a year, and hopes for even further expansion. - more

  Industrial services company Harsco Corp said on Monday it had won a Belgian scrap yard contract with the world's largest steel producer ArcelorMittal, worth as much as $100 million over the next nine years. - more

  Comparing LME traded 2007 average base metal prices to year 2000 average. Aluminum 1.73 times higher. Tin 2.64 times higher. Zinc 2.96 times higher. Copper 3.7 times higher. Lead 3.96 times higher. Nickel 4.43 times higher. And largest gainer - Lead at 5.57 times higher.     

  Rumor? - We have heard that a company affiliated with the privately owned and Turkish based Yildirim Group, has acquired  Swedish based Vargön Alloys, one of Europe's largest producers of ferrochrome. (no official comment or confirmation from either company has been made that we could find)  

  Mexico said in a filing with the WTO, dated Jan. 31, that it intended to appeal against a decision by a WTO dispute settlement panel in a case involving U.S. anti-dumping measures on imports of stainless steel from Mexico. - more

  So what can we expect from "The Year of the Rat" from legend. - more And "Chinese astrologers offer Year of the Rat stock tips" - more

  (no surprise here) - Rio Tinto said Wednesday that it has unanimously rejected BHP Billiton's pre-conditional offers as not being in the best interests of shareholders.

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by less than $.01/lb . Pre-trade and early rings have been ho-hum with nickel trading mostly in the red zone. So far this morning, it's the only base metal trading down, with other base and precious metals, all trading in the green. BHP announced a hostile offer worth US$147.4 billion dollars for Rio Tinto last night with BHP CEO Kloppers stating "This is our first and only offer." The offer can expect a fight from regulators (more) and possibly other potential buyers (more). The company also reported that while production levels were higher, first-half profits fell 2.4% (US$6.20 to US$6.02 billion) as increases in commodity prices were eroded by higher taxes and a weaker U.S. dollar. (more)
  • Bloomberg - more
  • Reuters - more

  Reliance Money Commodities Insight - pdf here

  KBC Market Research Commodities Report - pdf here

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "The metals are broadly expected to consolidate lower this week, as scale-down buying emerges to provide support, said Base Metals analyst Will Adams. With Chinese consumers out of the market, traders aren't anticipating major drivers to return to the fore until mid-month. Downside risks could still come from further falls on equity markets, said analysts, after very bearish U.S. ISM data Tuesday triggered losses on Wall Street and in Asia overnight."

  China may yet seek to spoil the merger of two of its biggest iron ore suppliers, but that won't help its steelmakers stave off another big rise in annual prices when negotiations resume later this month. - more

  Copyright/courtesy The Globe and Mail - "The London Metal Exchange, the world's largest marketplace for copper and aluminum, hired Chris Evans from Metal Bulletin PLC to manage new products. Mr. Evans will start at the bourse in March and oversee a study into possible cobalt and molybdenum contracts, Adam Robinson, an LME spokesman, said yesterday. The 131-year-old exchange may offer trade in so-called minor metals as part of a plan to double trading volumes in the next five years."

  From Scotia "China Update" - "...the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) told coal producing provinces that small coal mines that meet coal mine safety standards should resume production as soon as possible. Over the past two years, thousands of small coal mines have been closed for safety concerns. These closures have led to a stall in output growth. The NDRC now claims that provincial authorities might have overreacted to the orders from the central government by closing many small coal mines simply because of their scale." - more

  Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors, Inc., finally gave listeners at the Mining Indaba this week a feeling of hope and optimism toward the global economy and the commodities - a refreshing change from what he called “exceedingly bearish” outlooks from other analysts. - more

  German union IG Metal has called its members to join warning strikes on the production site of ThyssenKrupp AG's stainless steel division in Dusseldorf tomorrow to back demands for higher wages. - more

  Market Tendency On Imports Of Ferro-Alloys At 31st January 2008 - here

  The family Duval, shareholder with height of 37 % D’Eramet (head office of the SLN), would plan to yield its shares with Areva to repurchase the branch alloys of the group. - translated article here

  The preliminary works with the construction of L’machines North are finished. A base-life of 220 beds is D’now and already operational and will be put in management D’here a month. Will follow L’installation of the road D’access to the future port and launching D’important earthworks. -  translated article here

  The preliminary estimated value of U.S. nonfuel mine production rose last year to $68 billion - a 2.9 percent increase from that of 2006, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 120 tons = 46,770 tonnes (3.04% - 1422 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 45,348 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - closed for holiday (charts)
Tuesday, February 5 (only 9 days till Valentine's Day)
  Afternoon Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.05/lb 3 month buyer - $12.16/lb (2.1% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 89 to 6032. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 60 tonnes into Gothenburg, Sweden warehouse, minus 252 tonnes from Rotterdam , Netherlands warehouse, minus 120 tonnes from Busan, South Korea warehouse, minus 6 tonnes from Singapore warehouse
  •  BHP has one more day to make a formal offer for Rio Tinto, or it must back off for 6 months. Vale is expected to announce a formal offer for Xstrata any day. That is, if China hasn't put a pickle in both barrels. Outbound shipments from LME warehouses saw some Asian movement. Makes us wonder if the temporary power crisis in China isn't having an effect on pig nickel production. No proof, just a hunch. Nickel trading started lower in pre-market, and at the first ring, prices slumped further. Slight turnaround at the closing, but the day ended in the red. The US ISM report issued today, was issued after the downward trend in nickel prices was already established. Two supply issues to note from today. First, Vale executives announced Goro would begin production late this year, but they also added it wouldn't be producing at its 60,000 tonne capacity until 2012. Second, with a general dependency in the mining industry, forcing a shift from mining sulphide to laterite ore, the price of sulfuric acid for leap processing is an important variable to watch. The Heron press release below tells us this is getting very expensive. And on the supply side, we note in our average price update below that the average price for iron jumped by 29% last month. Don't expect stainless steel prices to drop anytime soon... in fact they appear to be on the increase again. For the day, three month nickel ended the $12.16/lb ($26,800/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more
  • CNN - more
  • Video - Situation Critical - Quecreek Mine Disaster - here

  Copyright/courtesy Dow jones - "The descent in base metals prices accelerated as investors digested worse than expected non-manufacturing index data for January, says a London trader....While services sector doesn't impact the metals markets directly, it could spell trouble for US metals demand, he says."

  Updated pages - AK Steel March surcharges added here  Monthly XL spreadsheet updated here  Average prices for January 2008 courtesy AK Steel - Nickel - $12.5598/lb  - Moly - $33.0250/lb  - Chrome - $1.7520/lb  - Iron - $420.00/GT (iron up 29% over December) New nickel forecast posted here

  Beijing is seeking to enlarge its cache of raw materials via worldwide deals and strategic tie-ins, reports Helen Power. China has embarked on a massive corporate land-grab to shore up its supply of natural resources. - more

  Courtesy IATS - "According to the latest statistics from the Customs Agency (Customs agency), in 2007, exports from China ferromolybdenum compared to the previous year rose by 13.6% to 21133 tonnes against 18598 t.

  (comment - easily overlooked except by stockholders, this news release contains some interesting information - from Heron resources press release Feb 1, 2008) "Heron Resources Limited has today announced that despite meeting all the technical hurdles encountered in the PFS, the PFS at Jump-up Dam has concluded that based on current configurations, the Heap-Leach process does not make an adequate return on investment.... Escalations in capital expenditure are due to significant increases in the cost of acid and power plants (97% increase). Escalations in operating costs are predominantly due to sulphur price rises, and the impact of higher oil prices on transport and mining costs. Ongoing increases in construction and labour costs also contributed to the escalated PFS outcome."

  Investment in commodities is set to rise in 2008, led by metals and agriculture, as cooling economic growth prompts money managers to switch to the best-performing assets, according to Societe Generale SA. - more

  Metals prices have completed the sixth year of a bull-pricing phase that started in 2002. Since the end of 2001, a market basket of six basic nonferrous metals has increased in a supercycle pricing surge of 338%. In the same timeframe, commodity steel prices have been more erratic and have increased by 113%. - more

  TD Bank Special Report - Economic Stimulus and the US Outlook - pdf here

  The ISM nonmanufacturing index fell to 41.9% in January from 54.4% in December. The reading was well below the 53.0% expected by economists

  The four years of Vladimir Putin's presidency were very favorable for the Russian metallurgy industry. - 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 $.16/lb . Inventories held in LME warehouses, saw their third consecutive drop, dropping 318 tonnes overnight. Trading started out in the negative this morning, and has been unable to gain any foothold. Media is still abuzz with rumors about what China is, or maybe up to, with its investment into Rio Tinto, and a possible buy-in of Xstrata. Investment? Blocking strategy? Control? Rumors are moving faster than a grasshopper on an ant's nest. Surcharges are moving up in March, after dropping slightly this month - at least in the States. Analyst tells South African conference that nickel will sell between $1.33/lb and $18.14/lb during the next 3 years.
  • Bloomberg - more
  • CNBC - more

  Behr Dolbear Global Mining News - pdf here

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

  Reliance Money Commodities Insight - pdf here

  TD Bank Weekly Commodity Price report - pdf here

  Canada Commodity Price Update - pdf here

  For those hoping for another month where they might see US stainless steel surcharges go down, Allegheny Ludlum released their March surcharges yesterday. 304 Stainless went from $1.30/lb in February to $1.41/lb in March and on 316 Stainless, the surcharge rose from $2.21/lb to $2.35/lb. (more)

  World average stainless selling values are forecast to move lower again in February. Rises in the EU and Asia are expected to be outweighed by falls in North America. - more

  Nickel markets are set for a roller-coaster ride in the years immediately following 2007, Jessica Cross, CEO of VM Group, told delegates at 2008 Mining Indaba in Cape Town on February 4. The considerable scope for price activity, she said, is likely to maintain short-term investor interest. - more

  courtesy Goldman Sachs - "We expected economic slowdown to affect base metals in 1H08... Base metal equities have been under pressure since the beginning of 2008 averaging declines between 25 and 50%, as continued signs of an economic slowdown in the US and Europe, plus remerging sub-prime issues triggered a rotation out of cyclical and economic sensitive names. GS is forecasting a mild US recession with peak-to-trough declines in real GDP of ½% in mid 2008, followed by a modest recovery in 2009. In addition, our Chinese economists downgraded their 2008 GDP estimates to 10% from 10.3% due to a significant policy tightening and a modest slowdown in Western World economies. Despite these forecasts, we remain bullish on an extended base metal cycle with sustainable high prices due to structurally constrained supply (i.e. lack of skilled labor and equipment), low inventories and strong demand from the industrialization and urbanization of BRICS economies. Nevertheless, the prospect of a hard landing in the US that may “re-couple” global economies into a more severe economic slowdown has driven de-risking in base metal equities." - source

  After reaching a low in mid-December 2007, nickel prices increased slowly through to the end of the year before re-weighting of the Dow Jones AIG and other indices supported a rally through to 4th January 2008. - more

  Domestic consumption of stainless steel grew by 29%, to 192 647 t in 2006, driven primarily by the many capital projects in progress in Southern Africa, the Southern Africa Stainless Steel Development Association (Sassda) said in a statement. - more

  South Africa, the world's biggest producer of precious metals, said a change is ``imminent'' in mining laws aimed at redistributing assets to black people. - more (thanks CO)

  (excerpt) Jeff Zweig of Goro Nickel says the facility should be producing 60,000 tonnes of nickel by 2012. - more (with production scheduled to begin by end of this year, it will take 3 years to reach maximum capacity?)

  Nickel, one of Cuba's most important economic sectors, consolidated its position as the island's main export in 2007, said the Minister of the Basic Industry (MINBAS), Yadira Garcia, on Saturday during a meeting with workers and executives of the sector in Moa, in the eastern province of Holguin. - more

  Finnish Customs suspects steel maker Outokumpu and its management of serious financial crimes. - more

  Courtesy AISI - "In the week ending February 2, 2008, domestic raw steel production was 2,134,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 89.5 percent. Production was 1,877,000 tons in the week ending February 2, 2007, while the capability utilization then was 78.2 percent. The current week production represents a 13.6 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending February 2, 2008 is up 1.5 percent from the previous week ending January 26, 2008 when production was 2,101,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 88.1 percent."

  Several American stainless steel welded pressure pipe producers have filed an unfair trade claim toward China’s welded stainless steel pipe imports on January 30th 2008. - more

  Merger News

  • Chinalco president Xiao Yaqing yesterday dismissed suggestions that the Chinese Government is seeking to gain control of Australia's mineral resources, and laughed off reports that Beijing was prepared to give him a $US120 billion ($132 billion) "war chest" to pursue mining giant Rio Tinto. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 318 tons = 46,650 tonnes (2.30% - 1074 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 45,576 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 241000-250000 RMB/t, minus 1000   (charts)
Monday, February 4
  Afternoon Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.38/lb 3 month buyer - $12.54/lb (5.29% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 13 to 6121. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - minus 84 tonnes from Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse
  • Nickel market was subdued today, spending much of the morning falling below and climbing above the beginning mark. By early afternoon, three month nickel fell by nearly $800/tonne, before starting to climb back slightly in late session trading.  For the day, three month nickel closed at $12.29/lb ($27,100/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  The price of nickel will find support at $25,000 a tonne and possibly rise to $40,000 a tonne in the next three years due to unexpected delays in production from new mines, a mining analyst said on Monday.- more

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "Base metals trade Monday has been relatively subdued in the lead up to the Chinese new year, says Sempra Metals analyst John Kemp. "The market is looking for inspiration," he says. Thinks US rate cut-related buying has already worked its way through the market. "Fairly substantial moves on the upside (were seen) last week without follow through buying Monday."

  The rapid growth of global steel consumption is partly responsible for today’s strong molybdenum demand. However, the current moly rally is different from the long moly rally three decades ago. - more

  The European Union began an investigation last Friday into whether steelmakers in China, South Korea and Taiwan are exporting stainless steel cold-rolled sheet to Europe below cost, a practice known as dumping. - 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 $.10//lb
  • Bloomberg - more

  Haywood Securities Metals & Mining - pdf here

  Reliance Money Metals Report - pdf here

  KBC Commodities Report - pdf here

  Nickel was Cuba's top export product last year and ranks as one of the island's most important industries, Basic Industry Minister Yadira Garcia told the official media. - more

  Things look rosy for the world's second-largest nickel producer in 2008, but Vale Inco's Ontario operations could run into a serious labour shortage problem as the year unfolds. - more

  The head of New Caledonia’s Goro Nickel company says nickel production at its site is set to start by the end of October or beginning of November. - more

  Coal jumped to records at Australia's Newcastle port and South Africa's Richards Bay as snowstorms in China, power cuts in the southern African nation and floods in Queensland reduced output. - more

  Chinese government-owned Chinalco said Monday it has no plans to lift its stake in Rio Tinto beyond nine percent even though it is seeking permission from the Australian government to have up to a 19.9 percent holding in the world's third-largest miner. - more

  Vale, the world’s second-largest mining group, has fired Merrill Lynch as one of its two lead advisers after the investment bank decided not to help finance a potential $90bn takeover bid for Xstrata, the Anglo-Swiss miner. - more China, seeking to cool a merger frenzy in the mining sector, may buy a major stake in Xstrata after Friday's purchase of a 9 percent holding in rival Rio Tinto, reports and analysts said on Monday. - more  China Development Bank, one of the country's policy lenders, Monday denied it is in talks about taking a 35% stake in Xstrata PLC ( XTA.LN). - more

  The world’s largest aluminum producer, Rusal, was this weekend putting the finishing touches to $4.5 billion (£2.3 billion) fundraising that should allow it to buy a 20% stake in Norilsk Nickel. - more  Billionaire shareholder Vladimir Potanin may fight a takeover bid from United Co. Rusal, the world's largest aluminum producer, Chris Weafer, chief strategist at UralSib Financial Corp. in Moscow, wrote in an e- mailed note to clients. - more

  PT International Nickel Indonesia Tbk announces annual production and talks with Indonesian Government on future development - pdf here

  The military said Monday it expects communist rebels to stage more attacks against mining firms in the country, as it defended the deployment of Army-trained private militias. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 84 tons = 46,968 tonnes (2.87% - 1,350 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 45,618 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 242000-251000 RMB/t, plus 500  (charts) (Markets will close Monday for one full week)
Weekend Review, February 2 & 3

  Update - Tropical Cyclone Gene, which was threatening New Caledonia late last week, has turned away from the island.

  THE surprise raid on Rio Tinto by China's Chinalco and US-based Alcoa has done three things: put Rio firmly into play as BHP Billiton has until Wednesday to "put up" a bid or "shut up" for six months; put renewed confidence in the mining sector; and put just about every listed resource company on takeover alert. - more

  Only two days after Chinalco spent an unprecedented 7.2 billion (HK$111.7 billion) for a 12 percent stake in miner Rio Tinto's London-listed shares, the mainland mining group has reportedly now gained access to a US$120 billion (HK$936 billion) war chest to mount a full takeover bid if necessary. - more (the Chinese are trying very hard to block two of the biggest mining mergers in history from happening)

  China's traditional New Year celebration, Spring Festival, began today. The Lunar New Year and beginning of calendar year 4705 (Year of the Rat) takes place on the 7th, and the 15 day festival will mean China, for all practical purposes, is closed for business until the 18th. The Shanghai Futures Exchange closes on Wednesday, February 6th and re-opens on Wednesday, February 13th.

  China's worst snowstorms in decades will reduce steel production by 1.5 million metric tons because of power shortages, according to Mysteel.com. - more

   Fastener price forecast - both steel and stainless are expected to increase due to continued increases in raw materials and freight.

  Scotiabank Commodity Price Index - pdf here

  MetalsWatch! January 2008 - more

  Phoenix is one of six Home Depot test markets for a St. Louis company's liquid stainless steel product. Also getting attention from industry press and home improvement shows, the product was created by Thomas' Kitchen Art Inc., a three-generation St. Louis company now led by the founder's grandson Floyd Thomas.- more

  Stainless Steel Flatware Vs Silverware - Silverware or stainless steel flatware? What to choose, what to use? The answer is never simple, but its good to know a few facts before you dive in - more

  Courtesy CorridorNet - "The China-Africa Development Fund (CADF) is to invest an undisclosed sum in Zimbabwe to establish a ferrochrome plant. The money will come from a $90m fund for CADF that is to be used to help Chinese business enter African markets. Sinosteel Corp is to establish the new facility."

  (if you have been watching LME inventories grow and wonder why) courtesy Dow Jones - "MMC Norilsk Nickel produced 295,209 tonnes of nickel in 2007, 21% more than the 244,000 tonnes produced in 2006, the company said in a statement. It expects to produce 300,000-305,000 tonnes in 2008."....."MMC Norilsk Nickel is considering buying back up to $5 billion worth of its shares, which would be a record for the Russian market, the Vedomosti newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying. In order to finance the deal, the mining giant could sell its energy assets, the paper said. A source close to one of Norilsk's co-owners told the paper that Norilsk planned to put the re-purchased shares not on its own balance sheet but on the books of a foreign subsidiary."

  The European Commission on Friday opened a new anti-dumping investigation into certain steel products from China, the second of its kind in recent months. - more

  Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc Market Report - pdf here

  Reliance Money Commodities Insight - pdf here

  India Base Metals Fundamentals of the Week - here

  AIIS December 2007 Import Press Release - "Imports declined again in December, to 1.98 million tons, based on preliminary reporting. “Imports plummeted in December by 15% from November’s low level and by 34.3% compared to December 2006,” reported David Phelps, president, AIIS. For the year the decline from record 2006 levels was 26.6%." - more

  We need to keep an eye on the base metals because January has been quite a bullish month for base metals. Almost all analysts, we have been speaking, had written off base metals for the first half of 2008. But the performance has quite been on the positive side. - more

  At the following day of the passage on the territory of Murilo Ferreira, the chairman of Vale Inco, Phil of the Roof, the general manager of Goro Nickel, took stock of L’past year. He benefitted from it to confirm the starting of L’machines South at the end of 2008. - translated article here

  Courtesy Forbes - "The worst winter weather China has seen in five decades should continue this week, the China Meteorological Administration told a news conference Wednesday, explaining that the current chaos was caused mainly by sleet forming as a result of an enduring pattern of warm and cold air currents clashing over south China.....In Guizhou, heavy snow has damaged power networks, halting production for almost all the province's 700,000-800,000 metric tons of aluminum capacity. To maintain the electricity supply to households and for essential services, power companies in most provinces had cut supply to energy-intensive industries, leaving about 10% of the country's smelting capacity left idle. The metalworking plants are unlikely to resume production before mid-February." - (more) Hundreds of Chinese coal mines that usually close for Lunar New Year will work through the holiday this week to ease shortages, but small mines that were closed as too dangerous will not be allowed to reopen, the government said Saturday. - (more)

  It is reported that BHP Billiton has gained ground after it sealed a long term deal with Baosteel which may allow a departure from the traditional benchmark price system. - more

  Major Indian steel producers announced an 8 per cent hike in steel prices on Friday pointing towards a period of higher prices. - more Rising input costs of raw materials like iron ore and coking coal have compelled steel Companies to increase prices for the second consecutive month in the current calendar year. - more India will review next week a decision of steel makers to raise prices, a minister said on Saturday, even as he sought to cut in import duties on raw materials in the budget later this month to help firms lower costs. - more

  The New People’s Army will continue to attack mining firms operating in different parts of the country despite the security being provided by the military, Communist Party of the Philippines spokesman Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal declared Saturday. - more

  The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals has postponed its final decision on an appeal regarding chromite mining in Coos County for up to three weeks. - more

  Manufacturing in China, the world's fastest-growing major economy, cooled in January as growth in shipments overseas slowed. - more

  National Mining Association Mining Week - pdf here

  Copyright/courtesy RBC - "Norilsk Nickel Mining and Metallurgical Company may resolve to buy back its shares to thwart a takeover by UC RUSAL, analysts polled by RBC tend to believe. However, Norilsk Nickel itself has made no official comment so far on media reports alleging its buyback plans. Such a move would indicate Vladimir Potanin's reluctance to sell its stake to RUSAL, as he would like to derive maximum benefit from the deal, some experts say. However, if Norilsk Nickel chooses to buy shares on behalf of a subsidiary, and the shares are entitled to vote, this would complicate the already intricate ownership structure, and the merger of Norilsk Nickel and RUSAL on the whole, as in this case RUSAL would have to buy such stake as well."

  Canadian mining companies are still enjoying historically high metal prices, but rising costs, some recent price easing and unfavorable exchange rates mean the upcoming earnings season could be a tough one. - more

  The Philippines's largest power producer, state-run National Power Corp. (Napocor), has failed for a second time to secure a fresh coal supply for three power plants due to high prices, the state-run group said on Friday. - more

  An impromptu helicopter pit stop on a remote Wyoming mountaintop may prove to have been a multimillion-dollar "potty break" for a renowned figure in the Canadian mining industry, according to a U.S. forestry official. - more

  Iron ore producer Mount Gibson Iron Ltd is investigating whether various Chinese parties that have taken a substantial stake in the company are associated. - more

  The Office of the Ombudsman has approved the filing of corruption charges against Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and an official of the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) in connection with alleged anomalies that attended the Palawan local government’s granting of permits to small-scale mining entities. - more

  The Nova Scotia government has failed to ensure that newly approved mining operations won't cause serious environmental damage, several groups charged yesterday as the province sanctioned a disputed gold venture. - more

  On his deathbed, Marco Polo is said to have despaired that he had not told half of what he saw "because no one would have believed me". - more

Friday, February 1
  Afternoon Nickel/Stainless Roundup
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.56/lb 3 month buyer - $12.70/lb (6.63% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 82 to 6,134. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - minus 126 tonnes from Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 36 tonnes from Singapore warehouse
  • Media was all a buzz today with the BHP-Rio Tinto merger story, with the introduction of the Chinese to the story. China is nervous about this potential merger, which could give BHP a commanding voice in iron ore supply and pricing. As it stands now, they share that power with Rio Tinto and Vale. With Tinto out of the picture, and Vale shipping from the other side of the planet, China doesn't like to imagine what might happen if these two become one. How the Chinese are playing spoiler here is, as one author called it, a shrewd move (more). Three month nickel spent most of early trading in a $400-$600/tonne plus range, until stories like this appeared in the media "January's surprise decline in the U.S. jobs market marks the first such loss in more than four years, the most striking in a batch of underwhelming economic data that may signal widespread recession worries going into 2008 are well-founded." With that news, nickel lost all of its gains for the day, with a slight bump at the end. For the day and week, three month nickel closed at $12.65/lb ($27,900/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more  (DJ's title yesterday - "Rally On Technical Buying, Gains Not To Last" - today "Profit Taking Clips Gains But Further Rises Seen" - figure that one out.
  • No video clip for you today, but an entire web site. Watch movies and documentaries in DIVX format (very clear) - here (These types of sites are full of copyrighted programs, so I would guess this site will not remain online for long. In the mean time, they have a very impressive collection of documentaries. Have a great weekend!)

  Stainless and Heat Resisting Steel Crude Steel Production (Ingot/Slab Equivalent) - thru 3rd quarter 2007 statistics here

  The European Commission has initiated an antidumping investigation into imports of stainless steel cold-rolled flat products from China, Korea and Taiwan as the result of a complaint lodged by steel trade body Eurofer, according to Friday's official European Union journal. - more

  Mining in China has long made headlines – and generally for all the wrong reasons. From outside the country, it appears that the urgency to extract minerals is such that even the most superficial safety arrangements are ignored. - (more)  another article from same paper - " RAMU nickel project landowners who threatened to shut down the billion kina project on Tuesday, have resolved to give seven days notice to the Chinese developer in keeping with a clause in the project memorandum of agreement (MoA). The decision of the landowners resulted in normal operations on all work sites of the project in Madang town, Basamuk, Usino access road and Kurumbukari yesterday. The landowners said failure by the developer, China Metallurgical Construction Corporation, to respond favourably would leave them with no option but to carry out their threat."

  We have been advised that our server was having e-mail problems during this past week. If you have sent us an e-mail and did not receive a response, please be advised we may not have received it.  

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.18/lb . Nickel has been trading in the green all morning, and off earlier high's.
  • Forbes - more

  KBC Market Research Commodities Report - pdf here

  Reliance Money Base Metals Report - pdf here

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "Data suggest that nickel substitution in the production of stainless steel is ongoing and combined with the economic slowdown, nickel price rises will be limited, says Michael Widmer at Lehman Brothers. Says the upside is "somewhat limited" because consumers have increased the usage of stainless grades that contain either less or no nickel. Therefore, believes that a return to the bullish fundamentals seen at the beginning of 2007 is unlikely. At the same time however, an end of de-stocking should give better support to nickel prices in the coming months. ".....""It looks like it's going to be a bullish day," said a London-based trader, adding the market will be watching U.S. data, particularly January employment figures. The mood in the base metals at present suggests the metals are capable of moving "under their own steam," said BaseMetals analyst Will Adams. He said supply concerns stemming from energy problems in China and South Africa appear to be the driving force of recent gains, but given the high number of aluminum stocks other factors are likely driving the rise, so it may have further to go."

  It is reported that both China and Japan have in late January simultaneously kicked off the new round of negotiations for 2008 fiscal year iron ore prices. - (more) According to a report in China Securities Journal, China Iron and Steel Association has denied market rumors that it has set a 30% ceiling price rise in talks with iron ore suppliers. - (more)

  London-listed miner Xstrata has declared force majeure to its vanadium and ferro-chrome customers as power shortages disrupt mining in South Africa, the firm said on Friday. - more

  Global steel production is expected to continue its upward trend and grow to 1.39 billion mt in 2008, up from 1.32 billion mt produced in 2007, said Amit Chatterjee, advisor to the managing director of India's Tata Steel at the Asia Steel 2008 conference in Singapore. - more

  The Nickel Institute and ID Inox (the French Stainless Steel Development Association) were invited to give a joint seminar in Warsaw on January 8, 2008 on the use of stainless steels in the water industry. - pdf presentation here (3 mb)

  China’s Lianzhoung Stainless Steel Corp (Lisco) has announced the price increase by RMB$500/ton for February. - more

  The European Union broadened the threat of tariffs on steel from China to protect EU producers including ThyssenKrupp AG from cheaper imports, opening a probe that also targets Taiwan and South Korea. - more

  Valor Economico, citing people close to the negotiations, reported that Vale is ready to bid for Xstrata Plc after it arranged as much as USD 50 billion in financing and concluded all necessary proceedings. Valor said that Vale is waiting for the green light from the government, which wants control of Vale to stay in Brazil. - more

  BHP Billiton and takeover target Rio Tinto each issued some good news yesterday, with BHP highlighting its strong relations with China's worried steel makers and Rio showing off its acquisition of Alcan - with approvals cleared for a major expansion of a hydro-powered aluminium smelter in Canada. - more   Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton bosses - more

  European mining shares surged in early trade on Friday after Chinese mining group Chinalco said it had teamed up with U.S. aluminium producer producer Alcoa to buy a 12 percent stake in Rio Tinto. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 162 tons = 47,052 tonnes (2.40% - 1,128 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 45,924 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 242000-250000 RMB/t, plus 1250  (charts)

Previous day / January 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 *

2-29

47,874

1.28%

47,262

$14.29

$14.38

$14.26

2-28

47,868

1.43%

47,004

$13.74

$13.79

$14.11

2-27

47,586

1.88%

46,692

$13.06

$13.15

$13.25

2-26

47,658

1.90%

46,752

$12.63

$12.72

$12.68

2-25

47,976

2.71%

46,674

$12.90

$12.99

$12.79

2-22

47,958

2.48%

46,770

$12.95

$13.04

$12.86

2-21

47,832

2.68%

46,548

$12.87

$12.98

$13.27

2-20

47,376

2.74%

46,080

$12.54

$12.66

$12.75

2-19

47,190

2.09%

46,206

$12.59

$12.66

$12.79

2-18

47,040

2.36%

45,930

$12.43

$12.57

$12.52

2-15

46,824

1.63%

46,062

$12.52

$12.61

$12.53

2-14

46,782

1.55%

46,056

$12.43

$12.45

$12.63

2-13

46,824

2.02%

45,876

$12.52

$12.61

$12.70

2-12

46,998

2.36%

45,888

$12.61

$12.72

$12.75

2-11

46,968

2.61%

45,744

$12.70

$12.80

$12.75

2-8

46,926

3.12%

45,462

$12.41

$12.52

$12.79

2-7

46,782

2.71%

45,516

$12.00

$12.11

$12.43

2-6

46,770

3.04%

45,348

$11.97

$12.11

$12.16

2-5

46,650

2.30%

45,576

$12.05

$12.16

$12.16

2-4

46,968

2.87%

45,618

$12.38

$12.54

$12.29

2-1

47,052

2.40%

45,924

$12.56

$12.70

$12.66

3 month nickel averaged $16.55/lb in 2007, $11.01/lb for all of 2006, and $6.69/lb in 2005
Cancelled warrants are goods sold


Translate this page to French | German | Spanish | Italian | Portuguese | Chinese | Japanese | Korean | Russian


INSG - The London Metal Exchange acts as a barometer of nickel supply/demand world-wide. Trading on the LME takes place in two daily sessions (morning and afternoon). The two sessions are each broken down into two rings made up of five minutes trading in each contract (cash and 3-months). The official prices for the day are assessed after the second ring of the morning session by a "quotation committee" in light of the dealings and prices quoted during the day's morning session. LME official nickel prices are used as bench mark prices by the international trade.


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 = 2204.622 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


Sponsored by

Your banner here


Updated Weekly
1/27 Market Prices

Ferromolybdenum (65-70%)
$36.25/lb
 

Moly Oxide (>51%)
$33.40/lb
 

Ferrochrome (60-65%)
$1.70/lb
 

Ferrochrome (low carbon)
$2.90/lb
 

Ferromanganese (C<.5%)
$1.95/lb
 

Philippines Nickel Ore (1.5%)
Tianjin Port

$730/Yuan/MT
 

Indonesia Nickel Ore (1.8%)
Rizhao Port

$1020/Yuan/MT
 

Ferrochrome (LC) Gr 50
Taiyuan Port

13450/RMB/MT
 

1/27 Scrap Prices

(LTL/ton)
$.83/lb
 




Additional US links - see bottom of this column

Nickel Graph Temporarily Down

Daily Reports

Platt's
UBS Daily
MF Global
BNP Paribas
Metals Insider
Macquarie Bank
Commonwealth Bank

Prices/Analysis


Shanghai
Shida Morning Post
Shanghai Metal Price Index


Central Japan


India MCX

Other Sites

US Stainless Scrap Prices
Baltic Dry Bulk Index
Nickel Mining Stock
US Economic Calendar
USGS Mineral Reports
Investor Guide
Metal Conferences
DJ Industrial Metals Index
DJ Nonferrous Metals Index
World Disaster Information

Media

Bloomberg TV
Business News Network
CNBC TV18
CNBC Metals
Resource Radio
Market Matters Radio
Korelin Economics

News Archives

2020
January February March
April

2019
January February March
April May June July August
September October
November December

2018
January February March
April May June July August
September October
November December

2017 and prior


Republic of Mining

Nickel Publications at Amazon

Balemaster Manufacturing - Hay Bale Spears and Unrollers

Additional Links

U.S. Steel and Stainless Steel Import / Export Statistics

USGS Mineral Commodity Reports

Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States -
Chap 72 Steel/Stainless/Scrap

Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States -
Chap 75 Nickel

Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States -
Chap 73 Articles of Iron/Steel


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

Contact author  /   EStainlessSteel Home Page

Your free daily news source for nickel, molybdenum, ferrochrome, chromium, iron ore and stainless steel market prices and news.

Any reproduction in whole, or in part, without permission from the author is prohibited.
© 2003-2019