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Stainless Steel News & Nickel Prices

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Friday, March 30

  Today's official LME nickel closing - cash - $20.59/lb - 3 month buyer - $19.87/lb (31.6% higher than 1/1/2007). Hey, didn't we tell you yesterday nothing much would happen today unless something big happened. Does China's own state owned Antaike forecasting "In view of the strong demand of nickel for stainless steel production, the official expects domestic nickel prices to continue its upward trend in 2007, growing say about 12%" qualify as big news? Apparently those who trade nickel thought so, with an otherwise docile morning turning into an interesting and active afternoon. Official prices, established around 11:30 am London time, actually show a drop from yesterday. But with half a days trading left, nickel rose and ended the day, week, and month at $20.32/lb ($44,800/tonne). (Comtex Finance - here) Have a safe and restful weekend! And don't forget Monday is April Fool's Day.

  And you thought the market was the only bull in town!! (all taken from this site and pay  special attention to dates) - (#1 Blame speculators) 10/11/2004 Anton Berlin, Norilsk Nickel's head of market analysis and development, told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview today that the supply/demand balance of worldwide nickel is nearing a balance and that the high price of nickel is unjustified and due to speculative activity. (comment - and the reaction to this? - 10/13/2004 The Globe and Mail is reporting today's drop in nickel is its worst single day drop since January 1988.)  (#2 Blame LME) 8/21/06 "From China's largest producer of nickel website - the Jinchuan Group - 8/18 - Mr Li Yongjun, president and chairman of the Board is quoted "LME is no longer a place for fair dealing of metals but a paradise of speculations". He warned that if the LME did not take measures to strengthen management of the market, the recent "irrational" surging in nickel prices would "impair development of downstream sectors" and "bring ill effects to the LME and speculators". (#3 Blame the consumer) 8/18/06 - Norilsk Nickel Deputy General Director Victor Sprogis released an e-mail statement today stating “Today's market volatility is due to the fact that some consumers this year cut the volumes they buy under long-term contracts and so increased their spot market purchases. We hope they'll draw lessons from it in 2007.''(comment - and the reaction to this double team? On the day Jinchuan/Norilsk posted/stated this, the price of nickel was $12.69/lb. One week later it was $13.34/lb)  (substitution concerns) 4/6/2004 WMC Resources CEO Andrew Michelmore advised investors at the company's annual meeting today, that the market could not sustain nickel prices above $6/lb for much longer, or the high costs could have a long term negative impact on the industry. He also advised he would like to see prices stay in the $4 to $6 range. (to be fair to Mr Michelmore, this was an honest mistake, with numerous others, and the media, and us, saying much the same thing) (and finally - no more concerns at all) 12/6/2004 - Two months ago on October 5th, the International Nickel Study Group forecast the worldwide nickel deficit of 10M tons seen this year, would disappear in 2005 with a balanced market. Since then (nickel) prices have fallen from $7.16/lb (the day of the announcement) by about 20%." (comment - now you know why we gave up forecasting  - in print!)

  Indonesia court delays verdict on Newmont - "An Indonesian court decision in a high-profile pollution trial involving the Indonesian unit of Newmont Mining Corp and its American chief has been postponed by two weeks, the judge trying the case said on Friday." - article here

  China's nickel output to rise up to 200,000 mt in 2007: Antaike - "Beijing's Antaike forecast China's nickel output at 190,000-200,000 mt in 2007, up from the around 140,000 mt produced in 2006, an official from the state nonferrous metals information division said to Platts." - article here

  (translated, so hard to understand, but worth trying) Stainless Steel industry- how to deal with high nickel prices? - "In the recently held the "2007 International Symposium on Chinese markets and raw materials". Participants in the negotiations is the largest raw material issues." - translated article here

  News Bites- 3/30 investment report by Netease for Chinese non-ferrous metal industry - (translated, therefore not per batum) "Currently, very strong demand for nickel from stainless steel industry, particularly stainless steel output is seeing substantial increase... we think that after experiencing a short-term adjustment, prices will return to normal levels of nickel, and nickel prices will remain high thru 07." 3/30 Sohu Securities - "Rapid growth in stainless steel output of China's future will inevitably face the chronic shortage of nickel supply situation."

  News Bite - Chinese media per Hexun - according to sources, Korean Public Procurement Service (PPS) reportedly purchased 100 tons of nickel, half from Glencore, and the other half from Eramet. 

  Indications at 7:50 am CST show nickel was selling up by about $.07/lb . Market is shrugging off reports from Norilsk that the supply of nickel may exceed worldwide demand, possibly as early as this year. Something to consider over the weekend. Over the last few years of following the nickel market daily, we have noticed that nickel producers, who might be accused of being overly optimistic to shareholders, have been a lot more correct on their forecasts of nickel pricing, than have been the analyst's. A lot closer! In the last few weeks, Jinchuan, Xstrata, and now Norilsk, have all dropped hints of possible price declines in the near future. While we, like many of the analyst's, don't see the new supply necessary, it is worth mentioning. Although Jinchuan and Norilsk have been known to cry wolf before, and Xstrata just might have a reason for wanting the market to "think" prices will fall, they represent some of the largest nickel producers in the world, and their opinions should not be ignored.   (Bloomberg - here)  (AFX News - here)

  Fasteners - US stainless steel importers were notified yesterday by Taiwan fastener manufacturers that stainless steel mills from Taiwan, Japan and Korea have raised prices of 304 stainless steel wire and rod by 13-17%, and 316 stainless by 13-18% for April. This is the largest monthly increase since spring of last year, and users can expect to see future price increases on their stainless steel fasteners. 

  TD Bank Financial Group Weekly Commodities Price Report - pdf here

  New projects, mergers to puncture nickel's rally - "Soaring nickel prices have helped spark a rash of multi-billion dollar corporate takeovers and new projects in mining, though few, if any, believe such lofty metal prices will last." - article here

  Chinese Steel Producers Struggle With High Raw Material Prices - "Russian, Brazilian and Indian steel producers are the most profitable, while Chinese producers struggle with high raw material prices. This is according to Integer Research's latest report that examines the world's leading 55 steel producers, the 2007 Steel Financial Insight." - article here

  Nickel: Conference and rumours - "The third conference on nickel has been just completed. One will have little learned with the liking interventions from them but the corridors, them, bruissé rumours." - translated article here

  The New Caledonian Goro Nickel company has told an international nickel conference in Noumea this week that its production facilities will be in full operation by 2011. - more here

  News Bite - US Commerce Department releases figures showing nickel scrap exports from US were up 21% in December 2006.

  Canadian nickel independents FNX Mining, Dynatec now takeover targets - "Prudential Equity asserts that Xstrata’s bid for Vancouver’s LionOre may mean that Canadian nickel independents FNX Mining and Dynatec are also potential takeover targets." - article here

  Yusco, Tang Eng raise stainless steel price - "Yusco, the largest stainless steel maker in Taiwan, announced to raise their stainless steel list prices for April by NT$18,000 to 19,000 per ton, which is the highest rise range in a month in recent years." - article here

  Strike deadline looms for 330 Local 2020 employees - "There could be a strike at CVRD Inco's Greater Sudbury operations within 48 hours if a new deal isn't hammered out before the strike deadline at midnight Saturday." - article here

  Mid-ranking commodities trader? Walk this way - "Headhunters confirm mid-ranking traders are getting harder to find. “The shortage of staff is absolutely more critical than before because there’s been such expansion,” says Colleen Quilty, head of the commodities division at search firm Akamai Financial Markets. “Most of the demand is at the intermediate level, for people with between five and seven years’ experience.”" - article here

  Sumitomo eyes $1-B Philippine nickel refinery project - "Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd. said was doing a feasibility study with Taganito Mining Corp. on a nickel refinery in the southern Philippines that will require investment of more than $1 billion." - article here

  Norilsk Says Nickel May Be in Surplus on New Chinese Supplies - "MMC Norilsk Nickel, the world's largest producer of the metal, said the market may be in surplus this year on increasing ``unconventional'' supplies from China, easing near-record prices." - article here

  3/29 - Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang tells news conference that Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan will be visiting Papua New Guinea and amongst other things on his agenda, he will visit the China Metallurgical Group's nickel mine. Mr Gang also reported that the Chinese government has conducted an investigation into accusations of labor law violations, and found the allegations "groundless". (see 1/26/07 for more info)

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - plus 126 tons = 5,418 tonnes (36.32% - 1,968 tonnes cancelled warrants).

Thursday, March 29

  Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $20.66/lb - 3 month buyer - $19.89/lb (31.7% higher than 1/1/07). After 10 days of breaking news from all corners of the globe about nickel, the media was rather quiet today. The market was quiet early, but after positive economic data from the US was released, buyers got some renewed interest. With only one day left in the month and first trading quarter of 2007, some movement was due to funds cleaning up their accounts. At the end of the day, nickel ended at $19.89/lb ($43,850/tonne). Without major news surfacing overnight that might affect the supply/demand parameters, we expect the markets to remain quiet tomorrow. (Comtex Finance - here) (and we can not explain why the Kitco graph shows the market ending down - they use their own formula and not actual prices...all indicators we watch show market up for the day)

  Chinese manganese metal prices surge; offers in wide range - "Chinese-origin 99.7% manganese metal offer prices have continued to rise, moving beyond $3,000/mt FOB China this week." - article here

  M'sian mills turning to no-nickel stainless steel - "Malaysian stainless steel fabricators are considering switching to metal with zero-nickel content as record nickel prices are squeezing their cash flows, a senior industry official from the country said." - article here

  Indications at 7:55 am CST show nickel selling up by $.10/lb . No breaking news out today that should influence the market in either direction. There are a few of us that still think the correction, now that it has gotten jump started, isn't over yet, with trading support levels still to be tested.  (Bloomberg - here)

  New Caledonia Eyes Cap On Raw Nickel Ore Exports - "The government of nickel-rich New Caledonia in the South Pacific is seeking to limit exports of raw nickel ore in the future to add value through processing and wants to get tougher on environmental regulation, New Caledonia's mining minister said Thursday." - article here

  Mining companies show us the fast money - "Resources stocks were where the good money, or at least the fast money, was in the past quarter with new mining company listings the 13 best performers over the period." - article here

  China to take down world markets - "We are looking right now at the following situation. China is about to drop the world markets in stemming their bubbles – stocks and real estate and manufacturing. I notified PS subscribers that China is going to prick the world stock bubbles – as the emerging manufacturing giant, just like the USA did in the 1929/30’s." - more here

  Courtesy and copyright Dow Jones Newswire - "Trade buying, short-covering, and technical-related buying supports LME nickel prices, says a broker. Adds that strong stainless steel demand should help nickel resume its upward trend towards $50,000 a metric ton. Moreover, demand for white metal products, nickel hybrid batteries, and anticorrosive pipes remains strong and is supportive for nickel demand and prices, broker notes. LME nickel trades at $44,100/ton, up 1.6% from Wednesday, but down from it's recent record high of $48,500/ton."

  Sumitomo Metal Mining, Taganito To Start Feasibility Study - "Sumitomo Metal Mining (5713.TO) said Thursday it has agreed with Taganito Mining Corporation of the Philippines to begin a feasibility study on nickel refining operations in the country." - article here

  Commodity Prices Stronger For Longer -National Australia Bank - "In what is still a common belief among many analysts, National Australia Bank Ltd. said Thursday that global prices of commodities should remain stronger for longer, with a supply response leading to modest declines in 2008." - article here

  China News Bite - Gansu Province-based Jinchuan Nickel Group, China's largest nickel producer, has reduced its 2007 nickel export target to 3,000 tons due to pressure from the increased export tax put in place by state regulators, the company told Interfax yesterday.

  Unmanned haul trucks two years off - "According to a report by Reuters, leading surface mining equipment manufacturer, Komatsu is set to commercialise its automated haul truck system in only one to two years time. The comments were attributed to Rod Schrader, vice president and general manager of Komatsu America’s mining division, who was speaking at the CRU World Copper Conference in Santiago, Chile on March 28." - more here

  Xstrata gets Australian Federal Treasurer go-ahead for LionOre deal - "Diversified-miner Xstrata had received notice from Australia’s Federal Treasurer that it had approved Xstrata’s proposed acquisition of LionOre Mining, the group said on Thursday." - article here

  Koniambo: Xstrata plays prudence - “All is very well”, ensured Kevin Brown yesterday. The director of the Koniambo project even promised with the floor of world specialists in nickel brought together with the Meridian line the first ingot of ferronickel of the factory of North in 2010." - translated article here

  Tropical cyclone Becky has weakened during the day as it is approaching New Caledonia. - more

  CVRD Inco Sudbury office staff OK strike mandate - "Unionized office, clerical and technical staff at CVRD Inco's Sudbury nickel operations have voted to give their union a mandate to strike if the two sides are unable to reach a new labor contract." - article here

  Mechel set to make ChMP unrivalled leader in the domestic stainless steel sector - "A program is scheduled at Chelyabinsk Iron & Steel Works to upgrade its production facilities, which will make the concern the unrivaled leader on the stainless steel market in Russia. We advise investors to devote attention to the shares of ChMP and Mechel, which controls it." - article here

  Posco to increase 400 series price by $75/ton - "After raising the surcharge of 300 series stainless steel, South Korea Posco announced that the prices of 400 series stainless steel would be adding by 70,000 won/ton (US$75/ton) after April 5, 2007." - article here

  US stainless imports reduce in first 2 months - "According to US Customs data, Mexico was the only country to sell its stainless products to US with an increased volume in February." - article here

  Sumitomo Metal Mining Plans Philippine Nickel Project - "Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Japan's largest nickel producer, agreed with Manila-based Taganito Mining Corp. to conduct a joint study on building a $1 billion nickel smelting plant in the Philippines." - article here

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - minus 204 tons = 5,292 tonnes (38.21% - 2,022 tonnes cancelled warrants).

Wednesday, March 28

  Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $20.64/lb - 3 month buyer - $19.83/lb (+31% from 1/1/07 (corrected - per Frank). While tin took a beating, nickel stayed in positive territory today, ending the day at $19.66/lb ($43,350/tonne). (Contex  Business - here) Wow! Would you take a look at all the new nickel production coming down the pike! BHP's Ravensthorpe  in Australia - maybe spring 2008. CVRD's Brazil Onca Puma - maybe fall 2008. CVRD's New Caledonia Goro - maybe late 2008. CVRD's Brazil Vermelho project - maybe late 2008. Even Indonesia's PT Aneka Tambang is hoping to increase nickel production by 22M tonnes - by 2008. Of course it takes a new mine a couple of years to get up to full production levels. And let's not forget the upcoming supply disruption - when the world's largest nickel miner, Norilsk Nickel can't ship - in May/June there is a typical 4 week period Norilsk can't ship from Dudinka due to the spring floods on the Yangtze River. Those who are concerned about future nickel prices, sure have a point....or at least they will ....maybe in 2008.  

  Nickel rationing may be needed in 2008 - "Dwindling stockpiles of nickel and sustained strong demand from world stainless steelmakers could create a second year of alloying metal shortages and create the need for rationing of primary material next year to ensure supplies, according to the latest quarterly commodities review by investment bankers at Société Générale." - article here  (we have been critical of this magazine in the past, as its readership is primarily purchasing agents (our customers). Their erroneous forecasts for the past few years have always leaned toward a collapse in nickel and stainless steel pricing. This sudden shift, with such a dire context, is extremely concerning)

  Stainless Steel Bar from Spain: Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review - notice here

  Xstrata Pledges Caution in Koniambo Nickel Project - "Swiss mining giant Xstrata said Wednesday it would move cautiously in developing a nickel producing operation in Koniambo, New Caledonia, site of one of the world's last remaining large-scale nickel deposits." - article here

  Nickel-price 'super-cycle' likely - "Scotiabank's commodity price index bounced back strongly in February, after a sharp drop in January, to within 0.6 per cent of December's record high." - article here

  China's steel products prices expected to move down in second half - "Steel product prices on the Chinese market may fall in the second half of 2007, industry insiders predicted in a conference recently." - article here

  Haywood endorses LionOre Xstrata nickel merger but doubts competitive offer forthcoming - "Despite the speculation and hype surrounding Xstrata’s $4B bid for Toronto’s LionOre Mining International, Vancouver’s Haywood Securities asserts that LionOre shareholders not expect a competing offer." - article here

  Glencore to Sell Xstrata's Nickel, Cobalt From April - "Glencore International AG, a Swiss commodity trader that made a $5.3 billion profit last year, will sell nickel for Xstrata Plc, the world's fourth-largest producer." - article here

  Finnish stainless steel maker Outokumpu upbeat on 1Q earnings due strong demand - "Metals group Outokumpu Oyj said Wednesday its first-quarter profit could be higher than the record previous quarter because of "prevailing favorable market conditions." - article here

  Impala, Anglo Pt in nickel bonanza - (quote from article) "John Meyer, an analyst at Numis Securities in London, said the company is considering lifting its 12-month average nickel price from its current level of $22,046/tonne. However, there are dangers in this. “Nickel prices tend to be extremely volatile and, consequently, a sharp correction downwards is possible.” Nonetheless, prices may average at “very high levels” versus historic prices, Meyer said." - article here

  Watch the Canaccord Adams "Closing the Structural Supply Shortage: Mid-Tier and Emerging Nickel Producer Conference" conference online - here (must log in but free - speakers include FNX, Sherritt, Dynatec, Skye, First Nickel, Brilliant Mining, International Nickel Ventures, European Nickel ,Globestar Mining, Canadian Arrow, Canadian Royalties, Independent Nickel, Blackstone Ventures, Crowflight Minerals - watch it all - or just your favorite company)

  FSA publishes review of the commodities market - "Growth in Commodity Investment: risks and challenges posed for commodity market participants" - pdf here

  Chile's Codelco sees moly prices firm in 2007, output steady - "Chile's national copper company Codelco expects prices for molybdenum, the most important byproduct in its mines, to remain firm this year, the company's executive president Jose Pablo Arellano said Tuesday." - article here

  Indications  at 7:50 am CST show nickel selling up by $.49/lb . Typically, a positive inflow of nickel into LME warehouses has historically brought the price of nickel down during this bull run. But for the last two days, traders have appeared to shrug this off, and taken prices even higher. Why? Could it be many felt the price dropped too fast last week, and has allowed itself to fall below market fundamentals? Or are the traders dismissing recent inventory gains as temporary? Or are traders looking at the long term numbers and questioning the recent "forecasts" given? Or is it just another grasp? Whatever the reason, it appears the bulls have re-gained much of their confidence. Will it hold? Or will something happen to add fuel to the fire? Stay tuned. (Bloomberg - "Nickel Rises for Third Day as Stainless-Steel Production Grows" here)

  Good golly, Ms Moly - "Like nickel and uranium, among others, molybdenum is up 1000% or so in the past five years. The metal, known in the trade and among specialist investors as "moly", and mostly used in steel alloying for hardening and corrosion resistance, is now in a $12bn a year market, but is it still worth a punt?" - article here

  DJ Australia's Fox Restarts Underground Nickel & Copper Mine - "Australia's Fox Resources Ltd. Wednesday announced it has restarted underground mining of nickel and copper ore at its Radio Hill project in the Pilbara region in the far northwest." (article here)

  Ambatovy Receives Key Malagasy Certification - press release here

  Scotiabank Commodity Price Index - March 2007 - pdf here

  Nickel price stops falling to give stainless price ways to soar - "Nickel price has rebounded on March 27 after a dip in last week." - article here

  BHP tipped as rival bidder for LionOre - "XSTRATA chief executive Mick Davis has admitted his company could face competition in its $US4 billion ($4.96 billion) friendly offer for nickel miner LionOre, amid speculation BHP Billiton was a logical rival bidder." - (article here)  - Analysts mixed on possibility of competing bid for LionOre - "Some investors and market watchers seem to be expecting a rival bid for LionOre Mining International Ltd. (LIM/TSX) after Xstrata Plc’s offer of $18.50 per share emerged on Monday." - (article here)

  Vale's Agnelli Says Goro Mine on Time, Within Budget - "Cia. Vale do Rio Doce's Goro nickel mine on the French Pacific Island of New Caledonia likely will start output as expected in late 2008 and stay within its $3 billion budget, Chief Executive Officer Roger Agnelli said." - article here

  Nickel Market to Remain Tight in 2007 - "Nickel for delivery in three months climbed $959, or 2.3%, to $43,159 a tonne in London yesterday, and has risen nearly 30% so far this year. The metal peaked at a record $48,500 on March 16, after gaining 161% in 2006. Currently, nickel is trading at $43,100 on the London Metal Exchange (LME), and analysts see further upside." - more here

  (not nickel related) Zimbabwe ignores court and provokes mining firm - "African Consolidated Resources, which had its Marange diamond mine in Zimbabwe expropriated in January, said that country's government had ignored a high court ruling allowing staff to return to the site." - article here

  Xstrata's takeover bid comes up short in shareholders' eyes - "The premium attached to Xstrata PLC's $4.6-billion takeover bid for nickel miner LionOre Mining International Ltd. is too slim and several institutional shareholders said they won't tender their shares to the all-cash takeover bid in hopes of wresting more money out of the friendly buyer." - (article here)   - Aggressive Xstrata will carry on putting another nickel in - "Xstrata remains on the lookout for a new, " transforming" deal even after launching its latest takeover bid." - (article here)

  DJ Xstrata To Decide On Koniambo Nickel Project Aug 2007 - "London-listed Xstrata PLC will conclude a review of its Koniambo nickel project in New Caledonia in August, an Xstrata official said Wednesday." - (article here)  Xstrata's Koniambo Nickel Mine May Start in 2010 - "Xstrata Plc, the world's fourth- largest nickel producer, said its Koniambo nickel project in New Caledonia will probably begin production by the end of 2010, putting it at the latter end of its previous forecast." - (article here)  Koniambo, Goro timetables - "Xstrata plc, the world`s fourth-largest nickel producer, said its Koniambo nickel project in New Caledonia is expected to begin production by the end of 2010, putting it at the latter end of its previous forecast, while Cia Vale do Rio Doce said its Goro nickel project, also on the Pacific island, is set to be completed in late 2008." - (more here)

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - plus 126 tons = 5,496 tonnes (37.33% - 2,052 tonnes cancelled warrants).

Tuesday, March 27

  Today's official LME nickel closing (set after 1st ring) - cash - $20.64/lb - 3 month buyer - $19.55/lb. It was a rough and tumble trading day for those buying and selling nickel on the LME trading floor. Indications would show the market up one moment, then down the next. When the dust finally settled, nickel ended the day in positive territory, at $19.41/lb ($42,795/tonne) The market appears to have no clear direction at this point, with optimism and pessimism pulling emotions equally. We will be curious to see how stainless steel producers react to the last few weeks pattern of inconsistency.  (Comtex Finance - here)

  Notable quote - copyright and courtesy today's Platts: What's Moving the Metals Market - ""There's some more stock coming in for nickel and lead, but not enough to make an immediate difference," said the trader (unnamed in article). The trader argued that there are two metals looking pretty strong and self-supporting, aluminium and copper, and two that look a little weak, namely nickel and zinc, which are "possibly being influenced by non-market factors. Lead is also looking a little unstable but I doubt there'll be any major correction soon."

  BHP Says Metals to Firm for Decades on Asian Demand - "BHP Billiton Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Chip Goodyear said prices of copper, nickel and other metals will remain high for several decades as demand from China and India climbs." - article here

  Behre Dolbear - Global Mining News - pdf here

  Metal sector set for bumper year - "Non-ferrous metal production in China is expected to grow by 15 percent this year, led by aluminum and copper, boosted by mounting demand, according to an industry organization." - more here

  Notable Quote - courtesy and copyright Business Day - "“What the nickel industry needs is clearly more nickel units,” said Nick Moore, an analyst at ABN Amro Holding in London. “Acquisitions don’t change the nickel market. All they do is shift the chairs so capacity is owned by somebody else.”

  Nickel may be new Holy Grail, but have prices already peaked? - "Global nickel supplies are so tight that Nick Moore is almost ready to give the metal the same moniker aerospace engineers and sci-fi buffs have applied to a variety of mythical or hard-to-find substances over the years." - article here

  China's ferroalloy export growth to slow on strong local demand - "China's net exports of ferroalloys will maintain at around 10% of the country's total production to reach at around 1.5-1.7 million mt/year in the next few years, said Xie Xinmin, consultant and former chairman of China Ferroalloys Industry Association, adding that the export growth from the country, however, had been on the downtrend." - article here

  China Buys African, Turkish Chrome on India Tax Rise - "China, the world's biggest producer of ferroalloys, is turning to South Africa and Turkey for chrome ore after India imposed a tax on the mineral to curb shipments." - article here

  Lead scare: 'Don't eat fish' - "PEOPLE have been warned not to eat fish from the waters off Esperance after high lead and nickel levels were found near the West Australian port." - more here

  Hungry Xstrata shark swallows nickel lion - "Are the Xstrata boys just predatory sharks with today’s decision to swallow the nickel Lion (Ore) cub – as many pundits are saying – or astute businessmen looking for strategic growth?" - article here

  Jinchuan to cut nickel exports on government tax - "Jinchuan Group Co, which controls 90% of China`s output of nickel, said exports will drop this year because of a government tax to curb overseas shipments of the metal, used to make stainless steel." - article here

  Indications at 7:55 AM CST show nickel selling up by $.05/lb. Another large gain in inventory and while prices are up this morning, we can only imagine trading is lackluster. We wouldn't be surprised to see the day end in the negative.  (Bloomberg - here) (Reuters - here)

  Our two cents - Have you ever been trapped in a closed in area with some unknown person in the crowd apparently suffering from a disruptive digestive system? We call that the PFF syndrome - the Phantom Flatulent Factor. 'Something stinks, somebody's to blame, but nobody is fessin up.' We received an e-mail yesterday asking why we are questioning the motive of Xstrata's takeover offer for LionOre. If that is the impression we gave, we apologize to our readers. We personally couldn't care less whether Xstrata buys LionOre or visa versa. What we are passionately concerned about, is the apparent manipulation, by persons and/or company's, with obvious motivation behind their words, that is and has affected the nickel market over the last week, and the state of uncertainty it is putting the stainless steel consumer in. These are our customers, our vendors, and our readers, so if nickel producers want to play mind games with the market, and their stockholders, so be it. But when those, with their own motivations, begin to adversely affect prices, and not allow the supply and demand parameters to guide the market, the credibility of the entire industry is placed in doubt.  

  DJ Australia's Esperance Port Still Loading Nickel, Not Lead - "Esperance Port on Western Australia's southern coast continued Tuesday to load nickel but not lead cargoes amid ongoing concerns in the town about high environmental levels of the two metals." - article here

  China's nonferrous output set to grow 15% in 2007: CNMIA - "Nonferrous metal production in China is expected to grow by 15% in 2007, led by aluminium and copper, boosted by mounting demand, China Daily reported Tuesday, quoting an industry organization." - article here

  Reuters Metal Weekly - pdf here

  Rand Merchant Bank - Base Metal Report - pdf here

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

  Commodity Price Update - pdf here

  Notable quote  made today - "“Nickel is still in an up-channel and looks strong technically while it remains above $41,000,” Man Financial analyst Edward Meir said. “But a break below could trigger a significant amount of selling, driving prices sharply lower.”

  Metal prices will determine hybrid battery type - "Three kinds of batteries can power the new generation of environmentally friendly hybrid vehicles, but the one that wins will be the one that has the best balance of price and performance." - article here

  Average Nickel Prices To Rise Long-Term - Brook Hunt - "Long-term nickel prices will need to be substantially higher than historical averages to trigger a sufficient number of new projects to meet steady demand growth, metals consultancy Brook Hunt said Tuesday." - article here 

  Australia's Focus Minerals To Speed Nepean Nickel Mine Start - "Australia's Focus Minerals Ltd. (FML.AU) said Tuesday it plans to restart mining operations at its Nepean nickel project near Coolgardie hamlet in Western Australia state within the next 12 months." - article here

  Nickel on fire - "Investors don't like to kid around about nickel: prices have risen from just over $2/pound late in 2001 to fresh recent records above $22/pound. London Metal Exchange (LME) nickel inventories are at record lows of less than one day's supply. This year alone, nickel prices for cash delivery have soared 32%." - article here

  Xstrata's takeover bid comes up short - "The premium attached to Xstrata PLC's $4.6-billion takeover bid for nickel miner LionOre Mining International Ltd. is too slim and several institutional shareholders said they won't tender their shares to the all-cash takeover bid in hopes of wresting more money out of the friendly buyer." - article here

  Damstahl Stainless Steel Report - March 2007 - pdf here

  International Steel Prices Surge - "A proportion of the recent transaction price rises announced by the US producers are slowly working their way into the market place, in many instances driven by escalating scrap surcharges. Mill order books for April have filled up quickly and several suppliers are now quoting mid May. Import offers are few at present, due to the weak dollar and good demand elsewhere. Although inventories at the service centres are coming down they have still not reached the desired level. Resale margins are holding steady for now but some resistance to higher prices has been noted. Distributor business is steady." - article here

  Xstrata to have lowest cost chrome and nickel technologies - "London-listed diversified miner Xstrata will have lowest cost technologies in both chrome and nickel if its bid for LionOre is successful, Mining Weekly Online can report." - article here

  Cuba plans JV with Sherritt to help expand nickel and cobalt output - "Havana's Center for Research and Projects at the Mining-Metallurgical Industry (CIPIMM) is developing new technologies to expand the Cuban nickel industry." - article here

  The elite of nickel in Noumea - "It is a mastodon on the scene of world affairs, but the company remained a long time of a discretion… any Soviet. Blow of projector on the Russian Norilsk Nickel, second world producer." - translated article here

  BHP Says Australian Iron Ore Port to Close on Cyclone - "BHP Billiton Ltd., the world's third-largest iron ore exporter, said Pt. Hedland iron ore port in northwestern Australia will be closed later today because of an approaching cyclone." - article here

  China Buys South Africa, Turkey Chrome Ore After India Tax Rise - "China, the world's biggest producer of ferroalloys, is turning to South Africa and Turkey for chrome ore after India imposed a tax on the mineral to curb shipments." - article here

  BHP, Miners May Boost Exploration to Record on Demand - "BHP Billiton Ltd., the world's largest miner, and rivals may spend more in 2007 on exploration than last year's record $7.13 billion to search for metals in Asia and Africa as Chinese demand depletes existing mines." - article here

  Esperance Port Probe Extended on Lead, Nickel Levels - "Western Australia's government expanded a pollution probe that halted lead exports from Ivernia Inc. after finding metal levels in the seabed at Esperance Port were as much as 100 times more than permitted." - article here

  Rio Tinto Targets 5 Percent of Global Nickel Output - "Rio Tinto Group, the world's third- largest miner, expects two nickel projects to secure an initial 5 percent of global production as it seeks to benefit from prices that have risen to record highs." - article here

  New Caledonia Govt Plans Tougher Mining Legislation -Minister - "New Caledonia's government plans to revise its mining legislation covering exploitation of the island's vast nickel reserves with a firmer stance on environmental protection and raw ore exports, the French-controlled island's economy and mining minister said Monday." - article here

  Vale Nickel Mine Won't Reach Full Output Until 2011 - "Cia. Vale do Rio Doce said its Goro project, the largest nickel mine under construction, may take three years to reach full production with costs at the project in New Caledonia exceeding its $3 billion budget." - article here

  Eramet says rebuilding New Caledonia nickel stocks - "French nickel miner Eramet ERMT.PA said on Monday that it was still feeling the effects of a four-month strike in New Caledonia that cut production at its nickel smelter." - article here

  Xstrata says not looking for Koniambo partner - "Anglo-Swiss miner Xstrata said on Monday it was not looking for a partner to help fund development of its Koniambo nickel mining and smelting project in New Caledonia." - article here

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - plus 468 tons = 5,370 tonnes (35.64% - 1,914 tonnes cancelled warrants).

Monday, March 26

  Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $20.59/lb - 3 month buyer - $19.52/lb. Nickel took off sharply higher this morning, with news of a possible delayed  nickel shipment in Australia, and news LionOre had negotiated a friendly takeover offer from Xstrata of Switzerland. As if to remind everyone we are in the middle of a (uh-hum) correction, the president of LionOre CEO Colin Steyn, reminded everyone that the good times would soon be over for the nickel market. What the--?? Someone has apparently been doing his homework - and we are not referring to the nickel market, per se. Maybe Mr Steyn knows what happens when you cross Xstrata's Mick Davis in a takeover...remember Derek Pannell being unceremoniously dumped when Falconbridge was taken over last year? (That would be how Ian Pearce became head of Xstrata Nickel) Compare that with the nice little pocket change Scott Hand retired with after he endorsed the Inco-CVRD marriage, and you might understand why it "pays to play ball" during these takeovers. Looking over the investor boards, there is some concern being raised by LionOre inventors about this deal, and Mr Steyn, and Mr Pearce, who might be just a tad bit motivated to get this purchase approved, are telling investors they should pocket the money before the good times, as they have come to know them, come to an end. Whether they will buy in is yet to be seen, but today's trading ended the day at $19.28/lb  ($42,495/tonne). (more- Comtex - here)  

  Metals Insider - Week in Review - here

  Brakes on stainless steel boom - "A big surge in global stainless steel making in 2006 that has helped drive nickel prices to record highs was coming to an end, a leading forecaster said on Monday." - article here

  Cars will drive demand for nickel; FNX president paints rosy long- and short-term picture for industry  - "Growing world demand for energy-efficient cars is good news for nickel producers, says the CEO of FNX mining. " - article here

  Nickel prices sustainable in short term - "NICKEL prices will be sustained by market fundamentals in the short term, but in the longer term higher prices could damage the stainless steel market, said LionOre CEO Colin Steyn." - article here

  News Bite - found on blog, source not given - "Australian environmental authorities have widened an investigation into metals pollution at the Esperance port in Australia that may delay a shipment of nickel out of the port. The shipment is said to contain 3,000 tonnes of nickel, which equates to approximately 1/4 of LIM's Q1 projected shipments. The cargo is due to depart for Finland early next week, however a spokesman for the Western Australian Environment Department said it will be halted if there's a risk of dust escaping."

  News Bite - courtesy China - "Beijing Antaike Information Development Corporation predicted that China's demand for nickel by 06, 07, 250, tons to 300,000 tons, 20%, 06, 143 and 1,218. tons to 194,000 tons of 36% growth due to the high iron content of nickel iron output rose. Antaike think the reason is the rapid growth of China's nickel consumption increased demand for stainless steel producers. It is expected that China's stainless steel output of 07 million tons from 06, 530 tons to 7.2 million to 5.6 million tons."

  News Bite - courtesy/copyright Reuters - "BHP Billiton Ltd said its $US2.2 billion ($A2.7b)Ravensthorpe nickel mining and smelting project in Australia was more than 80 percent complete following huge cost overruns. BHP's vice president of business development Ian Clark told a nickel mining industry conference that 400 of 650 required employees had been hired and the first shipment for refining would occur by late 2007."

  Indications at 7:55 am CST were nickel was selling up by $.75/lb .  After Friday's freefall, investors took the weekend to think about what is actually going on in the market. While no one is predicting the bottom to this correction has been found yet, the news was much different than last weekend. Then, Jinchuan caught the market offguard with its threats, while this week is starting with some investors wondering if anything really changed in the supply/demand picture. Nickel inventories gained some last week, but were they real, or covering a short bet? So, with concerns about nickel shipments being potentially held at the Port in Esperance, Australia, traders have so far returned to their bullish mood. Will it stick? Stay tuned  (more - Bloomberg here)

  News Bite - courtesy/copyright Financial Post - "Wellington West noted that this takeover, as well as a potential halt of shipments from Australia pending investigations into environmental contamination, will be the likely focus for the nickel market this week."

  Consolidation for booming mining firms - "As the bull market in commodities rolls on, one of the most successful sectors on Londonis Aim market has been the mining area. At the end of December 2001 there were 31 miners; by the end of last month there were 189." - article here

  BMO Capital Markets - The Goods - pdf here

  Nickel Inventory to Be `Tight' Through to 2010, Macquarie Says - "Nickel inventories will probably be ``tight'' through to 2010 helping to support higher prices for the metal used to make stainless steel, Macquarie Bank Ltd. said." - (article here)  and LME nickel price to rise 34% this year as market stays tight: Macquarie - "Slow supply growth in the nickel market will keep the market tight until 2010, with average 2007 prices forecast to jump 34% on year and project delays remaining a key swing factor for the market, Macquarie Commodities Analyst Jim Lennon said Monday." - (article here)

  Vale's Onca Puma Nickel Mine Construction on Schedule - "Cia Vale do Rio Doce, the world's largest nickel producer, said construction of its Onca Puma nickel mine in Brazil's Amazon jungle is on schedule." - article here

  Eramet President: Budgeting $10/Pound For Nickel - "Jacques Bacardatf, the president of France's Eramet S.A. (13175.FR), said Monday the company was budgeting for a nickel price of US$10 a pound (US$22,000 a metric ton) this year and expects prices to slide in the future." - article here

  2006 Full-year Stainless Steel Production Beats All Expectations - "The International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) has announced that stainless steel production rose by 16.7% to 28.4 million metric tons (mmt) in 2006. All major regions of the world contributed to this strong growth." - article here

  Two sides to the mining boom - "Mining companies have fallen into two camps, those that are making so much money that they don't know what to do with it and those that are struggling in the high cost environment." - article here

  Xstrata bids $4bn for Canada's LionOre - "LSE- and ZSE-listed diversified miner Xstrata announced on Monday that it had entered into an agreement to buy all of the issued and outstanding shares of nickel producer LionOre for $15,96 a share, valuing the transaction at $4-billion, or R28,9-billion." - more here  and here and here and here  (official press release here)

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - minus 30 tons = 4,902 tonnes (40.27% - 1,974 tonnes cancelled warrants).

Weekend Review, March 24 & 25

  Nickel slumps as buyers back off - "Nickel prices slumped 6.5 per cent, or $US2950 a tonne, on Friday with commentators saying the 27 per cent rise so far this year might have spooked buyers from the stainless steel sector." - article here

  Vale, BHP Nickel Mines May Be Delayed on Costs, Labor Shortages - "Cia. Vale do Rio Doce and BHP Billiton Ltd., building two of the world's largest nickel mines, may miss their scheduled start-up dates, driving up prices that rose to a record this month." - article here

  Moving From Metal to the Fuel Pedal - "On a recent investment scouting trip to India, Frederick Sturm was overwhelmed by the peacefulness of the country, given the number of people seeking permanent shelter and round-the-clock electricity and water." - article here

  Year to date nickel price graph - using cash buyer prices

  The Chinese are coming - "When the Chinese government opened up its economy in 1978 and embarked on a policy of reforms, China has come a long way since then. In less than three decades, it has become an economic powerhouse, showing phenomenal growth the likes of which had never been seen before. It has $1 trillion foreign exchange reserves, registering a trade surplus of $177.5 billion in 2006 alone. China is awash with so much cash - it just keeps on flowing into the country. Last year, $70 billion foreign direct investments poured into China. The Chinese government has freed up control measures to allow companies and individuals to take the money abroad. China is expected to invest as much as $5 billion every month for the next two years." - article here

  SMC strikes new 'vein' - Recycling business bolsters the bottom line - "Under the foothills of the Beartooths, miners labor day and night to pry precious metals from the J-M Reef. But Stillwater Mining Co. has discovered another source of platinum and palladium, a source that runs on four wheels and can be found above ground." - more here

  Belvedere Acquires Outokumpu Mining Oy's Hitura Nickel Mine - "Belvedere Resources Ltd. is pleased to announce that it has now signed the Final Agreement to acquire the Hitura Nickel Mine from Outokumpu Mining Oy and the remaining 55% of Finn Nickel (Suomen Nikkeli Oy)." - press release here 

  Metal thieves knock Vancouver radio station off air - "A Vancouver radio station was knocked off the air for several hours Thursday after thieves raided its transmitter, stealing copper and other metal." - article here   Rise in Ag Theft Has Farmer's On High Alert - "A rise in Ag theft around the Valley has both authorities and farmers on high alert. One fed-up farmer told Action News he had a 1,000 gallon tank of diesel fuel stolen. Many more have run into problems just trying to water their crops." - article here   Manchin vetoes metal theft bill, says it went too far - "In vetoing a House bill, Gov. Joe Manchin said the Legislature went too far in its quest to deter scrap metal thieves." - article here   Thieves targeting valuable metals in catalytic converters - "It turns out there's a gold mine under every vehicle, and enterprising thieves are starting to cash in by stealing catalytic converts from parked cars." - article here  How to prevent metal theft - "The best way to prevent metal theft, Porter County Sheriff Dave Lain says, is the same way to prevent any theft: secure your property." - article here  (comment - just a reminder to those in the Northern Hemisphere with summer approaching - test your air conditioner. We reported late last year, that over the winter, thieves were stealing the insides out of air conditioner compressors and replacing the outer shell - thus making it nearly impossible to discover until you try to turn your air conditioner on, and nothing happens. We met a person last month that was victimized by this. )

  Cramer back on the Base Metal Bandwagon - "Everybody hates Jim Cramer. That may be so, but don't underestimate him. His personality may put your TV on mute, but he does have a nose for sentiment. He knows when the crowd is getting in and when they are getting out." - more here

  (not sure how they figure 7%) LME nickel drops over 7 pct, tin hits new high - "Nickel shed over 7 percent on the London Metal Exchange on Friday as investors took profits ahead of what analysts predicted would be a more balanced market in the second half of 2007. " - article here

  Zimbabwe: Mugabe says government to redistribute mineral resources - "President Robert Mugabe says the Western attacks on Zimbabwe and the demonization of the its leaders is nothing new as revolutionaries of the struggle faced serious denigration at the hands of some Westerners during the liberation struggle." - more here

   Nickel prices to remain soft - "Nickel prices in the domestic market may remain weak in near term following the global markets reports of fund selling and higher LME stocks data." - article here

 Quote from Dow Jones article - Confirmation to Metal Bulletin report on Thursday - "Recent deliveries into LME warehouses in Asia is by China's Jinchuan Group Ltd. against a nickel short position. But traders said this is natural, given the requirements of Chinese accounting. "If Jinchuan has sold material to the LME and the market is above it, it has to deliver it because it can't have a difference account," one physical trader said. He noted Jinchuan is a major nickel producer and a short position would be covered by its own output. "It's the naked shorts that have been caught out," he added.""

  DJ Steelmakers Cancel Nickel Ahead Of Surcharge Fall - Traders - "Steelmakers are canceling deliveries of nickel from producers in anticipation of a collapse in the stainless surcharge, physical market sources told Dow Jones Newswires Friday." - article here

  (our two cents) Week in Review - Brutal for nickel investors. Source used for the following is different than Comtex, where we get the daily ending number, and the LME, where we get the official prices. Until Monday's trading began, 8 of the preceding 12 trading days of March, had seen new record high's for nickel, with Friday, March 16th's $22.00/lb for 3 month nickel, being the most recent all-time record to beat. Over the weekend, reports began to surface that implied stainless steel producers were cancelling orders for nickel, with China's largest nickel producer announcing Monday, the market was out of control. When traders showed up Monday they were a little unnerved by all the news, including the weekend interest rate hike in China, and the markets opened at $21.70/lb, saw a high of $21.75/lb, saw a low of $21.09/lb, and ending the day at $21.23/lb, a loss of 2.25% for the first day of the week. Tuesday didn't fare any better for traders, with the market opening at $21.19/lb, hitting $21.27/lb for the high, falling to a low of $20.09/lb, and ending at $20.11/lb, another bigger loss of 5.3%. Wednesday saw the slide slow down, which was interesting considering the nearly 18% increase in nickel inventories reported at the beginning of the day. The market opened at $20.14/lb, rose to a high of $20.25/lb for the day, fell to a low of $19.37/lb, and ended at $19.91/lb, just shy of a 1% loss. Thursday saw the bulls return, on news the Fed had decided to leave interest rates alone and a report from a respected metals site reported Jinchuan was attempting to cover a short bet it had made. Markets opened at $19.87/lb, also the low of the day, rose to as high as $20.66/lb, and ended the day at $20.47/lb, a gain of 2.8%. Friday, the market opened to news that Jinchuan was denying the report, and the market would tumble all day, confirming the market was in a correction mood. Markets opened at $20.64/lb, snuck up to $20.71/lb for a high point, fell to a low of $19.20/lb, and ended at $19.26/lb, a loss of 5.9%. The 3rd week of March closed approximately 12-1/2% lower than the record high it had hit on the Friday before. But the market is up approximately 2-1/2% on the month, and a whooping 21-1/2% for the year. For the 12 month period, the price of nickel is up 277% from March 23rd, 2006. The difference between the highest traded price (Monday) and lowest (Friday) for the week, was about 12%. Inventories started Monday at 3,702 tonnes, and on Friday morning LME was reporting they had gained 25% so far for the week.

So, was Jinchuan motivated by a bad bet to scare the market into a freefall? Who knows, and at this point, it really doesn't matter. If they lied, they are still too big a consumer for the nickel market to mess with. If they didn't, they succeeded in bringing about a correction, that was overdue to happen anyway. Now things will get interesting. We are posting a report above that shows consumers of stainless, are cancelling orders, knowing surcharges will probably drop for May. This could potentially force the stainless steel producers, that weren't cancelling orders for nickel already, to delay future shipments. The producers of nickel will take the extra nickel that they haven't had for months and possibly send it to the LME warehouses. Growing inventories in LME warehouses, after the drought we have seen, could scare the market into further price declines. We say could, potentially, and possibly, because no one really knew what will happen for sure. A thousand things could happen to change everything.

It is is worth noting that much of the supply/demand news that came out this week, would have in any other week, drove the market higher.  The first two weeks of this month, the market hit new records on far less news. On the supply side, The Port Authority in Esperance has temporarily banned the shipments of tin after a large bird kill, and when they checked the local water, they found high concentrations of nickel. This may cause shipping troubles for Australia's third largest producer of nickel, LionOre Mining, just days after it reported record profits for 2006. For demand, besides Jinchuan's proclamation of doom and gloom, Chinese officials released figures, showing nickel imports into that country surged 84% in February. And on Thursday, China government owned Antaki, projected nickel imports would increase by 20% on the year, rising from 250,000 tons in 2006 to 300,000 tons in 2007. On Wednesday, the executive president of China’s Stainless Steel Council Li Cheng, admitted the market share for low nickel stainless steel had actually fallen since 2004, a period which saw nickel prices rise. He reported the production of 200 series stainless steel had fallen by 2-3% to approximately 17%, totally opposite of what others had been threatening. A day later, Antaki reported the market share for 200 series stainless steel was more like 15%, but 'destined to increase due to higher nickel prices'(these two should probably compare notes in the future).  

Maybe the title for the week should have been a question? "Has the nickel market finally found the price ceiling that forced stainless steel producers to openly revolt?"   

  Not nickel related - interesting article - Global Ruling Class: Billionaires And How They ‘Made It’ - "In India, which has the highest number of billionaires (36) in Asia with total wealth of $191 billion USD, Prime Minister Singh declared that the greatest single threat to ‘India’s security’ were the Maoist led guerrilla armies and mass movements in the poorest parts of the country. In China, with 20 billionaires with $29.4 billion USD net worth, the new rulers, confronting nearly a hundred thousand reported riots and protests, have increased the number of armed special anti-riot militia a hundred fold, and increased spending for the rural poor by $10 billion USD in the hopes of lessening the monstrous class inequalities and heading off a mass upheaval." - article here

  A tattoo for the educated man - here  Have a safe weekend!!

  Public Broadcasting's Frontline is an in-depth weekly news investigation program, and our favorite. PBS archives their 50 most recent broadcasts for viewing online here

Friday, March 23

  Today's official closing prices - cash - $20.69/lb - 3 month buyer - $20.18/.lb. Can you spell "market correction"?. Overdue, it was just a matter of time before prices fell back. The gains seen so far this year, while sometimes spectacular, were well beyond what many feel the fundamentals justified. Much of the slide today, fed on itself, with traders forced to bail out, as the downward momentum of the market, grew stronger as the day grew older, and the end of the weeks trading grew closer. If this were a game of cards, Jinchuan raised the hand and the other players folded. Bluffing or not, it does remind us what it's like to play cards with an 800 pound gorilla! February, a whole 17 working days ago, saw nickel prices end its final days trading at $18.66/lb. The market closed today, and this week at $19.14/lb ($42,195/tonne) We hope, for the sake of our customers, that the market finds itself a price it can live with, and some stability returns to the stainless steel market. (more - Bloomberg here) (more - Dow Jones here) (more - Comtex here) (more - Bloomberg here)

  Wives tale or reality? - If this is true we don't know why, but it is claimed that rubbing one's hands with stainless steel, will remove odors. See here and here (not sure rubbing your hand on a stainless steel knife is a good idea to test this theory....rub it the wrong way and the odor will be gone all right - along with your hand)

  New page added last night - Convert price of nickel from tonne to pounds, kilogram, troy ounce, or carat. Then convert the amount to foreign currency value - here

  European Nickel production delayed - "European Nickel plc said a Turkish project that will supply nickel to BHP Billiton Ltd, the world`s largest miner, may start producing later than expected because of delays in obtaining a government licence." - article here

  News Bite - (courtesy/copyright Interfax) - "The appointment of a new general director at MMC Norilsk Nickel (RTS: GMKN) will not lead to a management reshuffle, Denis Morozov, the new general director, told the press in Krasnoyarsk Friday. "There will be no major changes in strategy or a reshuffle in Norilsk Nickel's management because of the change in general director," he said."

  Tibet Activists Target British Mining Company - "Tibetans and their supporters demonstrated at the London Headquarters of Central China Goldfields, a British conducting exploratory mining in Tibet, demanding they withdraw from Tibet until the Chinese occupation ended." - article here

  Calyon hikes nickel, lead price forecasts - "Calyon said on Friday it has revised up its price forecasts for nickel and lead because the company believes the market will be underpinned by low stocks and tight supplies." - article here

  Price of nickel keeps on breaking records - (quote from article) "FNX Mining is a medium sized company working entirely in the Basin. FNX Mining, CEO Terry McGibbons says, “With the opening of the Levack mine this year our production will grow quit dramatically. This growth will take place during a period of incredibly high nickel prices." - article here

  Courtesy Metals Insider - for your free daily copy of their report, visit here

  (courtesy/copyright Chicago Tribune) "An Alabama mining company on Thursday denied any relationship with right-wing death squads in Colombia and said it has no intention of settling a related U.S. lawsuit. A federal judge in Alabama last month allowed a civil suit to go forward against Drummond Co. Inc. for allegedly paying a hit squad to kill three union leaders in 2001 at one of its Colombia mines. Colombia's chief prosecutor announced a formal criminal investigation into Drummond on Tuesday for alleged ties to paramilitaries."

  Indications  at 7:55 am CST show nickel selling down by $.58/lb . In the last 4 days, nickel inventories have grown by 75%. While still critically low, the market is reacting as expected, and some profit takers are cashing out. (more - Bloomberg report here) (more - Dow Jones report here)

  Treasures in her hold - "More than a million dollars worth of nickel is aboard the stricken MSC Napoli, it was confirmed this week." - article here

  New Caledonia Nickel Gathering May Provide New Insight - "Nickel, a key component in the manufacture of stainless steel, has continued its meteoric rise that started in 2006 amid project delays, low stocks and strong demand, rallying 54% since the start of the year to a record $48,500/ton on March 16." - more here

  Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel announces raw materials surcharge - "Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. has announced that, effective April 1, 2007, it will institute a $53 per ton raw materials surcharge on orders scheduled for April shipment." - more here

  Esperance bans lead concentrate shipments - "The Port Authority in Esperance has banned shipments of lead concentrate after thousands of birds died in and around the town." - article here

  Chinese Firm RockCheck Steel Group To Invest $200-M In Philippine Mining - "A leading Chinese corporation on Wednesday pledged to invest an initial $200 million in the Philippines for the construction of a ferro nickel plant in Eastern Samar, south of the capital Manila." - article here

  News Bite (from Investor Village forum, verified) - "Detailed China import-export numbers were released today for February....Nickel net imports were up 84% to 10.3 kt."

  PT Newmont Slammed With New Lawsuit Over Buyat Bay - "Indonesia's largest environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia (WALHI) has launched a civil suit against Newmont’s Indonesian subsidiary PT Newmont Minahasa Raya (PTNMR) over alleged pollution from the disposal of mine tailings into Buyat Bay - now the fourth litigation of its kind." - article here

  Cuba plans JV with Sherritt to help expand nickel and cobalt output - "Havana's Center for Research and Projects at the Mining-Metallurgical Industry (CIPIMM) is developing new technologies to expand the Cuban nickel industry." - article here

  Mining law to change as lawsuits rear up - "THE South African government has made a critical amendment to its mining legislation in an effort to block potentially damaging lawsuits later this year alleging expropriation." - article here

  Indian ore tax to help Australia - "AUSTRALIA is set to be the major beneficiary, with Brazil, of India's export duty on iron ore - which has already caused Chinese buyers to divert more than 20 ships from India." - more here

  Mills to produce low nickel grades stainless - "Although nickel prices hit a record peak of US$48,500 on March 16, China’s demand for nickel may still rise by 20 percent in 2007 and output is likely to surge by 36 percent, senior analyst Aidong Xu who worked in a state-owned research group Antaki said." - article here

  Jinchuan Denies Report It Has `Large' Nickel Wager - "Jinchuan Group Co., a company controlling 90 percent of China's nickel production, denied a Metal Bulletin report that it has a ``large'' bet on lower prices for the metal used in stainless steel." - article here (this could get interesting - last year Posco of Korea denied similar reports, which later proved to be true)

  Philippines MacroAsia, China's Jinchuan In Nickel Deal - "Philippine investment holding company MacroAsia Corp said Friday that it has signed a deal with China-based nickel producer Jinchuan Group Ltd. to explore and possibly develop mining claims." - article here and another

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - plus 618 tons = 4,932 tonnes (33.33% - 1544 tonnes cancelled warrants).

Thursday, March 22

  Today's official LME nickel closing (set after 1st ring) - cash - $21.59/lb - 3 month buyer - $20.23/lb. Makes a person wonder how many millions of dollars were lost in the last few days, possibly because one company made a bad bet and wanted to minimize its losses. And the market blames mining companies for manipulating the market! Today saw the days trading end at $20.48/lb ($45,150/tonne) (more - OsterDowJones - here) (more - Reuters - here)

  Still not able to verify the Metal Bulletin report this morning about Jinchuan dumping nickel on the LME to cover shorts. No one else seems to be talking about it. However, the fact the LCH raised margins on nickel today (see below), does tend to make us believe something is up.

  (Did you notice that sentence in the Bloomberg "Nickel Snaps 3 Day" article this morning? We missed it, but this trader didn't. And his reaction? Couldn't have said it any better ourselves.)- forum entry here

  News Bite - "LCH Clearnet increased margin payments for nickel transactions to $25,500 for each 6 metric-ton lot of the metal. A margin payment is the amount of cash or other collateral such as bank guarantees that exchange members....must set aside to hold metals." Excel report here

  LionOre's $100 Million Nickel Shipment May Face Delay (Update4) - "LionOre Mining International Ltd., the third-largest nickel producer in Australia, may have a shipment worth as much as $100 million delayed as authorities widen an investigation into metals pollution at Esperance port." - article here

  China's nickel demand seen rising 20 pct in 2007 - "China's demand for nickel may rise 20 percent this year and output is likely to surge 36 percent amid higher production of high-iron ferro-nickel, a senior analyst at a state-owned research group said on Thursday." - article here (worth reading)

  BCL May Ferry Ore to Zim Refinery - "BCL may start refining its ore at a facility of the Bindura Nickel Corporation Limited (BNCL) in northern Zimbabwe "soon"." article here

  Resources Stocks Weather Global Market Storm - "Strong commodities prices defied the plunge in equity prices across global markets last week, showing that commodities are no longer closely tracking the fortunes of the U.S. economy, say market commentators." - article here

  Cuba: Minister Announces Increase in Oil Drilling - (quote from article) - "The minister noted that Cuba has greatly advanced in its knowledge of its national geology. She added that expansion of the nickel industry and the obtaining of greater value-added products are being actively sought." - rest of article here (above only mention of nickel)  Cuba Hones Nickel Technology - ""The Center of Researches and Projects at the Mining-Metallurgic Industry (CIPIMM) is currently developing new technologies to expand the Cuban nickel industry" - article here

  Skye Resources announces 2006 financial results - press release here  Skye plans for Guatemalan ferronickel mine output in late 2009 - "Canada's Skye Resources Inc. aims to start commercial production from its Fenix ferronickel project in Guatemala in the latter part of 2009, the company said Thursday. " - more here

  China's ferromoly trade in doldrums; offers in a wide range - "China's ferromolybdenum trade is now in the doldrums while offers are in a wide range of $68-73/kg on a CIF basis for shipment to Europe, Japan and South Korea, sources said. " - article here

  Indications at 7:50 am CST show nickel selling up by $.19/lb . What an interesting morning! News out of China is much different today than we heard earlier this week. Substitutes for stainless steel down, demand for nickel up, production of stainless steel up, and oh by the way, if the Metal Bulletin report is confirmed, Jinchuan apparently gambled that the market would be down now, and went short, so they may have a little bit of motivation for getting angry earlier this week. (Kind of like screaming "cheater" at a card table you just can't seem to win at. - We haven't been able to confirm this report yet, but when we do, we will do our "we told you so" dance.)  There is really nothing holding the market back now from resuming its climb, unless the wind has been taken out of the sails of the traders for the time being. So far the market is up, but very timid. (more -  "Nickel Snaps 3-Day Drop as Supply Remains Tight; Copper Gains" - here )

  Chinese Headline - "Jinchuan Group signs Australian nickel mine deal with Metals X"

  Dow Jones Newswire News Bite - "LME nickel jumps following news overnight from a Chinese research firm that Chinese demand for nickel may rise 20% in '07, says a trader. Also, news of possible supply-side disruptions to nickel stocks in Australia adds to upside momentum, the trader adds."

  China leads world in nonferrous metals output - "China has led the world in nonferrous metals output for five years in a row, said sources with the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association (CNMIA) on Thursday." - article here

  News Bite - Metal Bulletin - "China’s biggest nickel producer Jinchuan Group is in the process of delivering thousands of tonnes of nickel into LME warehouses in order to cover a large short position built up last year, according to traders" (ouch - a little motivation for all those tough words earlier in the week??)

  (this is big news for nickel producers - 200 series stainless has been touted in the past as the most likely substitute to nickel laden 300 series stainless steel - appears it is in trouble. We have found it interesting that while the India Stainless Industry is trying to market 200 series stainless aggressively, their own association magazine only shows photo's projects done in India - where 300 series stainless was used?!) Chinese stainless product mix changes - "The executive president of China’s Stainless Steel Council Li Cheng said, the stainless steel industry’s is expanding in China and it caused changes of its stainless steel product mix, in a stainless and raw materials conference held in Foshan." - article here

  China now wants roll back of duty hike on Indian iron ore - "Chinese steel makers, who threatened to boycott Indian iron ore, are suddenly finding themselves caught between the high rock and the deep sea as the international price of the commodity is on an upward curve. The latest report show that the price of Australian iron ore has risen by $5 a tonne in the past few days while the Chinese were protesting against a duty hike of $7 on Indian iron ore." - more here

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - plus 12 tons = 4,314 tonnes (32.27% - 1392 tonnes cancelled warrants).

Wednesday, March 21

  Today's LME official closing - cash - $21.36/lb - 3 months buyer - $19.91/lb. Nickel struggled to find a foothold today, with the growth in nickel inventories causing bearish concern, but reports of sustained growth in stainless steel production reinforcing bullish thoughts. By the latter part of the trading day, a new bottom seemed to have been established, but the market was having a hard time finding the rpm's to start climbing again. Tomorrow will be interesting, with a few questions to be answered. Will inventory levels grow again tomorrow, or return to their slumping ways? Does the market have the gas to climb, or is the engine missing? And did today's downhill stop overheat the brakes? Some say this is a minor bump in the road, others are calling it the beginning of an overdue downhill correction. The one thing we can say for sure, is today's trading ended at $19.89/lb ($ 43,855/tonne)  (more) (more)     

  News Bites from Chinese media - "Chinese Steel Output Increased 20.1% in February" - "Baosteel Focuses on Ferritic Stainless Steel Development" - " Taishan Steel to Build a 600,000-ton Stainless Steel Project"

  Cuba's Minister of Basic Industries, Yadira Garcia, is quoted as stating Cuba intends to lift production of nickel from 74,000 tonnes in 2006 to 76,000 tonnes this year.

  A little background on the beef the Xikrin Indians have with CVRD in Brazil - "The Xikrin Indians x CVRD written 2/21/07" - more here

  DJ Global Nickel Market In 7,000 Ton Deficit In Jan 2007 - WBMS - "The global nickel market recorded a deficit of 7,000 metric tons in January, with reported stocks some 3,000 tons lower, the World Bureau of Metal Statistics said Wednesday." - article here

  Steelworkers and Global Union Partners Announce Unity Accord - "The United Steelworkers (USW) and unions from six of the world’s nations announced on Tuesday a new global union accord designed to advance the interests of workers employed by the rapidly growing Companhie Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD)." - more here

  China`s stainless steel output may rise 37% this year - "China, world's biggest producer of stainless steel, will probably increase output by 37 per cent this year to 7.35 million metric tonnes, metals research firm Heinz H Pariser said." - article here

  Indications  at 7:45 am CST show nickel selling down by $.30/lb . Nickel inventories gained by 18% overnight, adding some evidence to last weeks report by Reuters that some stainless steel producers were delaying or cancelling nickel shipments due to the high prices.  (more) (more) (more)  

  Reuters Metal Weekly Review - pdf here

  Rand Merchant Bank - Monthly Base Metal Report - pdf here (we gave you a link to the weekly edition yesterday)

  Morning's quote - courtesy Dow Jones Newswire - "LME nickel's selloff isn't a concern until prices slip below the $42,000 a metric ton, a broker says, with $40,000/ton and "anything below this" possible. "In a market that's been so fundamentally bullish for the last several months, a correction of this kind isn't unexpected," he adds. A return to recent highs and above "is certainly not out of the question," he adds."

  Canada Weekly - Commodity Price Update - pdf here

  DEC to monitor Monday's nickel loading at Esperance Port - "An officer from the Department of Environment and Conservation will be present during a nickel loading process at the Esperance port next Monday, as concerns rise over dust emissions from the facility." - article here

  South Korea Seeks 200 Tons of Nickel Cathode in March 26 Tender - "South Korea's Public Procurement Service issued a tender to buy 200 metric tons of refined nickel at a premium over the London Metal Exchange cash price." - article here

  Miners issue 'white paper' against draft mining law - "Major mining companies issued a `white paper' Tuesday, calling on the government to retain the Contract of Work (CoW) system under the proposed new mining law if it wanted to avoid creating a major impediment to new investment." - article here

  Permanent ban on all raw ore export, DRC's Katanga governor decrees - "A permanent ban had been imposed on all raw ore leaving the mining-rich Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the newly elected Katanga governor Moise Katumbi told Mining Weekly Online on Tuesday." - article here

  The investment column: Kazakhmys - "Kazakhmys' ambition is to become the "BHP Billiton of Kazakhstan". To achieve this end, the Kazakh group needs to move away from its reliance on mining copper." - more here

  Mining unions meet in Sudbury to identify commonalities - "Unions representing CVRD/Inco Limited workers are banding together, building relationships and strengthening their voice." - article here

  China market demand low upon high stainless price - "The high stainless steel price has made the end users not to buy and postpone their factory’ production due they are not able to afford. " - more here

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - plus 654 tons = 4,302 tonnes (24.41% - 1050 tonnes cancelled warrants).

Tuesday, March 20

  Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $22.39/lb - 3 month buyer - $20.87/lb.  The day started with nickel prices slumping for a second day, but by the end of the day, someone apparently blinked, and prices suddenly were in a slide. With good news coming from the US housing start report issued earlier, obviously some traders put merit in Jinchuan's warning.  Nickel ended the days trading at $20.23/lb ($44,595/tonne) (more) (more)

  (We received an e-mail questioning our claim that Jinchuan's threat was old news - here is something from our own records) August 21, 2006 - From China's largest producer of nickel website - the Jinchuan Group - 8/18/2006 - Mr Li Yongjun, president and chairman of the Board is quoted "LME is no longer a place for fair dealing of metals but a paradise of speculations". He warned that if the LME did not take measures to strengthen management of the market, the recent "irrational" surging in nickel prices would "impair development of downstream sectors" and "bring ill effects to the LME and speculators". Dow Jones is also reporting the company's web site is predicting prices will soon fall below $20,000/ton and quotes the site as stating "China's tightening measures will effectively lower commodity prices" (comment - Jinchuan produced 90,000 tonnes of nickel in 2005. It had set a target of 100,000 for 2006 but estimated during this that the actual production would be lower. They ended up producing 101,000 tonnes in 2006, with the price of nickel at $12.69/lb the day they made this statement, rising throughout the rest of the year to end at $15.10/lb. Their $20,000/tonne forecast would have been $9.07/lb. As consumers of stainless steel ourselves, we understand their frustration, and agree that downstream consumption is hurting, but find the tone of their threats a little dubious. Unless the Chinese government, which is seriously concerned about other countries slapping anti-dumping suits against them for their ever increasing steel and stainless exports, cracks down and uses this as an excuse to force their producers to cut back on production (see here), business will remain as usual in the global doggie-dog, kill or be killed world of business. And that's our two cents, for whatever it's worth.)

  More trouble for Goro nickel project - "More trouble seems to be brewing for the giant Goro nickel project in New Caledonia. The latest initiative by opponents of the project—led by the indigenous Rheebu Nuu group—is to build a makeshift village on a piece of land designated for a waste pipeline." - more here

  Don't Cry for the U.S. Steel Industry - "For decades, the U.S. steel industry has successfully pressed Washington for protectionist trade policies, charging China and other rapidly developing nations with selling steel at below-market prices. But look again, argues Daniel Ikenson of the Cato Institute." - more here

  Miners' Woes Heard - If Faintly - in US - "The pattern of persecution of miners in Colombia overlaps with the map of operations of foreign corporations, especially U.S. companies, Colombian trade unionists told a U.S. legislator." - article here

  Nickel drives record sales - "WA nickel sales more than doubled, gold sales increased by more than a third and iron ore sales shot up by almost 30 per cent last year, new figures have revealed." - article here

  Specialty metals could see waivers by Defense Department - "According to reports, companies mining specialty metals could seek "one-time waivers" from the Department of Defense to be allowed for use. As part of of the 1941 Berry Amendment, the Department of Defense must place priority on domestic companies for mining metals." - article here

  Russia starts charging 3-yr anti-dumping duty on EU stainless steel - "Russia's three-year anti-dumping duty of 840 euros per tonne on flat steel with nickel content of 2.5% or higher imported from the European Union entered into effect on March 20." - article here

  Phelps Dodge name dies as Freeport takes over - "Phelps Dodge Corp., one of the most famous names in U.S. mining, moved from ledger books into history books on Monday as Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. completed a $25.9 billion acquisition to form the world's largest publicly traded copper company. - article here

  IIF report: Latin American growth to decelerate - "Latin America will continue to grow at a "robust" pace, but the region's economic prospects have worsened as a result of falling commodity prices and a loss of momentum in some countries, like Argentina and Venezuela, according to the Institute of International Finance." - article here

  Reader invites interested parties to The International Wire and Cable trade Fair in Moscow, Russia May 28-32 - more here

  Indications at 8:00 am CST show nickel selling down by $.22/lb  . US Housing Starts figures released this morning may help give market some direction. At the present time, nickel is floundering, intimidated by the threat from Jinchuan. Not sure we really understand why - their biggest threat seem to be that nickel 'would' be in over-supply in a few years. We can see that as a distinct possibility, but what that has to do with today's market, has us puzzled. But apparently it has rattled the market. (more) (more) (more)

  Behre Dolbear Global Mining News - pdf here

  Rand Merchant Bank - Base Metal Report -  pdf here

  Nickel prices may crash on over-supply in a few years - "China’s top nickel producer, Jinchuan Group Ltd, warned on Monday that a potential oversupply could cause a crash in nickel prices in the next few years. The company said the current red-hot prices were fuelling “irrational investment” in nickel mines and had forced many downstream firms to use substitutes to cut costs." - article here  and another

  BNP Says Nickel May Average $30,000 a Ton This Year - "Nickel, which rose to a record $48,500 a ton last week, may average $30,000 this year, PT BNP Paribas Securities Indonesia analyst Ferry Wong said, as he raised profit forecasts for the nation's top miners of the metal." - article here

  Citigroup Raises 2007 Nickel Forecast on Supplies - "Citigroup Inc., the biggest U.S. bank, raised its 2007 forecast for nickel, saying supply constraints will keep the commodity in a ``super cycle'' of elevated prices." - article here

  China's Juichuan Group backs Australia's Metal X nickel development - "Metals X Ltd said China's largest nickel producer, Jinchuan Group Ltd, has agreed to assist it in developing its Australian mineral assets, including the Central Musgrave nickel project in Western Australia." - article here

  Beijing clarifies exploration licence status - "Beijing`s Ministry of Land Resources has rejected reports that new minerals exploration licenses had been banned for commodities other than coal. The ministry told the China International Mining Group (CIMG) that a nationwide ban applies only to coal, not to any other minerals." - article here

  (If you read the stories about the bird kill caused by lead we posted last week, nickel is now being introduced to the problem) - Nickel levels raise new Esperance health fears - "High levels of heavy metals have been found in more than a third of backyard water tanks tested in Esperance as public health fears of lead contamination from the town’s port move to include nickel." - article here

  Damstahl Stainless - Price Developments March 2007 - here

  Asia steelworks to hike stainless steel price for April - "After the nickel cash price exceeded US$50,000/mt last Friday, the future nickel price is going to approach US$50,000/mt." - article here

  Commodities super cycle has further to go - "You would have to have been living on a desert island for quite a long time now not to be aware that something has been going on in the world of commodities." - more here

  Siberian mine blast death toll at 106 - "Emergency officials in western Siberia said Tuesday 106 miners were confirmed dead in a coal mine explosion a day earlier and 93 had been rescued." - more here

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - minus 54 tons = 3,648 tonnes (25.16% - 918 tonnes cancelled warrants).

Monday. March 19

  Today's official nickel closing - cash - $22.83/lb - 3 month buyer - $21.32/lb. Today's 3 month nickel ended the day at $21.11/b  ($46,550/tone) (more) (more) (more) With all the threats coming from the stainless steel industry of an intentional slowdown, markets went into a wait and see pattern today, with a few profit takers jumping ship. We have been here before. A lot of the warnings that are being published, are repeats of threats made last fall, when nickel took another seemingly irrational jump. Speculators out of control, prices well beyond fundamentals, we are switching to stainless with less nickel, more than enough nickel coming - someday - and it goes on. It's re-hashed and re-worded, but it isn't new. The question is, what do the producers hold in their deck, and are they bluffing? It's hard to imagine any producers of stainless steel sitting on any excess inventory, with many gambling prices would have gone down by now. This is especially true in China, where producers were none to quiet about the fact that they were not going to stockpile before their February holiday, betting prices would fall. So if the stainless steel producers have limited stores of nickel, they either pay, or quit producing. With stainless gaining popularity, it's hard to imagine they will choose the latter.    

  Fortis Metals Monthly - pdf here

  China's Jinchuan Predicts Price Slump as Output Rises - "Jinchuan Group Co., a company that controls 90 percent of China's nickel output, said prices of the metal are likely to slump because of increased production." - article here

  Steel firms demand end to iron ore exports - "India's steel industry on Monday called for an end to iron ore exports in five to seven years and the doubling of an ore export duty to ensure adequate supplies for domestic firms." - more here

  Metals Insider - Week in Review: Nickel zeros in on the $50,000 target - here  (like us, MI follows 3 month nickel. Cash nickel has already gone well over $50,000/tonne, and closed over that barrier today) 

  Is the time right for a correction in nickel prices? You be the judge.

  Indications  at 7:55 am CST show nickel selling down by $.40/lb . Traders start this week with more than a few concerns to think about. First, while doubtful to have much effect, China raised its interest rates on Saturday by .27 points. Secondly, after days of record breaking growth, the market is due for a correction, however minor it might be. And most importantly, there is talk of a stainless steel producer revolt, of sorts. If you missed our weekend review, you might want to give it a look. There are reports of producers cancelling and delaying nickel orders and stopping stainless steel production altogether. If true, LME nickel inventories should start growing, as they did this morning by a mere 138 tons. Is this evidence of a buyers boycott, or just the normal flow of inventory seen every week? That is the million dollar question, and traders will be watching inventory levels and news closely this week. (more) (more)

  Macquarie ups long-term base metal price estimates - "Australian investment bank Macquarie has revised up its long term price estimates for all base metals, reflecting further escalation in capital and marginal operating costs." - article here

  News Bite - "LME nickel is averaging $37,456/ton in the year to date, up from an '06 average of $23,252/ton, says John Meyer of Numis Securities. "In light of the strength in prices so far this year, we are considering raising our outlook for the year ahead," says Meyer. " (courtesy Dow Jones Newswire)

  China rate hike will not impede demand for commodities - Australian economists - "The People's Bank of China's (PBoC) decision to hike its key interest rate by 27 basis points is unlikely to have any significant impact on demand for commodities with exports seen continuing to grow strongly, economists here said." - article here

  Press release - "Metals X hits 'Ravensthorpe-sized' nickel resource" - pdf here (on page 3 a nice chart showing largest undeveloped nickel mines in the world)

  Philippines – Rusina to be nickel producer within months - "Australia ’s Rusina Mining is set to become a nickel producer within months under a financing and mining contract set earlier this month for part of its lucrative Acoje project in the Philippines ." - article here

  New acquisitions to elevate Mincor’s nickel output - "Mincor Resources NL, now the leading nickel miner in the Kambalda region of Western Australia, is expecting to lift its group annual production of contained nickel in fiscal 2008/09 to 20,000 tonnes." - article here

  Arcelor Mittal eyes hostile bid for Posco - ""The company will acquire more friendly shares for stable management," a POSCO official said, adding that shareholders counted as friendly to the management now controlled 40 per cent of the company." - article here

  China Jinchuan warns pricey nickel may cause crash - "China`s top nickel producer Jinchuan Group Ltd warned that oversupply could cause a crash in nickel process in the next few years as "crazy" current prices encourage blind investment in nickel mines." - more here

  Rheebu Nuu plays the opening - "The complaints of Rheebu Nuu with respect to Goro Nickel did not change: environmental protection, of the lagoon, of the ground water, better association of the bordering populations to the project. Except that today, Raphaël Mapou and they his consider that they have from now on a valid interlocutor. “We were never opposed to the negotiation with Goro Nickel. Today, we note that the context is favourable with this discussion. " - translated article here

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - plus 138 tons = 3,702 tonnes (31.12% cancelled warrants)

Saturday, Sunday, March 17 & 18 Weekend Review  (news stories added below commentary)

  Commentary - Here is something you may not hear anyone else claim. Consistent pricing trends of nickel, even those of an increasing nature, stimulate purchases. The historically based opposite, increases purchasing risk factors. In other words, the price increases we have witnessed over the last few weeks, could actually prove beneficial for nickel demand, in one respect. Now before you classify us as escapees from the local funny farm, allow us make our case.

For years, nickel prices have had their ups and downs. A strike in Canada, a power plant fire in Norilsk, the collapse of the Iron Curtain, the Asian Financial Crisis, the list goes on and on. These, and many other reasons, have caused nickel prices to spike, and plummet. Bull market spikes of the past could be counted in weeks and months, but usually, only bear markets lasted for years. With price spikes having a historical track record of going bust nearly overnight, stainless steel producers have become leery when prices begin to rise. All have been burnt and seen their nickel inventory loose value nearly overnight.

With this in mind, many producers of stainless steel, the main customer of nickel, have been reluctant to stockpile excess nickel. This reluctance spreads down the stainless supply chain. Even three years into this bull market, and during the large spike witnessed last fall, Norilsk Nickel Deputy General Director Victor Sprogis tried to blame nickel users - “Today's market volatility is due to the fact that some consumers this year cut the volumes they buy under long-term contracts and so increased their spot market purchases.'' While we blasted this remark last August as presumptuous, it did reflect the uncertainty of future nickel prices, and the pressures stainless steel producers were, and continue to purchase under.

The past six years has not only been a bull market, but has laid out a track record of spikes, followed by minor corrections, and more price spikes. This overall upward trend in prices, has lowered the threat of past price declines, and puts purchasers of nickel on a more predictable playing field. Nickel buyers, historically worried about disastrous declines, now must be concerned about the financial risk of waiting. And while all accept the occasional price corrections, purchasers, like analysts, are becoming more resigned to the fact, that this market could maintain prices at a level few even imagined possible, just a year ago. If extreme price volatility ever returns to the London Metal Exchange trading floor, you will see nickel buyers return to a wait and see tactic.

Therefore, while some market watchers fear substitution, users of stainless worry about passing on the price increases they are experiencing, miners warily watch demand, and traders keep their eye on supply, pricing that shows a degree of durability, has positive benefits, beyond immediate profits to miners and stockholders.  

(the next story from Reuters is given as the immediate threat to the above theory)  

High prices choke China's imports of nickel - "Surging world nickel prices are choking imports of the metal into China, as consumers take advantage of domestic prices that are 10 percent lower than the cost of imported metal, traders said on Friday. Chinese importers are asking overseas suppliers to delay or cancel term shipments and are taking the bare minimum amounts allowed in other contracts, and their unwanted metal could find its way into LME warehouses. Prompt nickel on the London Metal Exchange was around $51,000 a tonne on Friday. Prices have rallied 45 percent this year, lifted by dwindling supplies in LME-monitored warehouses, which have fallen to 3,564 tonnes from over 6,000 tonnes at the start of the year. Jinchuan Group Ltd., China's top nickel producer, on Friday raised prices by 10,000 yuan to 357,000 yuan ($46,100) a tonne in reaction to the LME surge. "Basically spot imports have stopped," an importer in Shanghai said. He added that his firm had already exercised a clause in its contracts that allowed it to halve its term imports and was considering suspending all imports from May. A manager at a nickel importer in Inner Mongolia said half of his clients had stopped buying and others had bought less. The firm was asking its Russian supplier to suspend its 2007 shipments. "(Overseas supplier) may put that extra nickel in the futures market. At this price level, who is going to buy spot metal?" the manager said. Australia and New Zealand Bank analyst Andrew Harrington said: "We could see some downward pressure on spot prices. If Chinese imports are delayed, material en route could be diverted to warehouses. "That would give people in urgent need of material an additional avenue." However, supplies in China have turned very tight and merchants were trying to get hold of nickel from local producers such as Jinchuan. In eastern China, prompt nickel on Friday traded at 415,000 to 420,000 yuan a tonne, up 16,500 yuan from Thursday. Spot imports were trading at premiums of $250 to $450 a tonne over cash LME nickel prices for smelting grade. Nickel for plating grade traded at $200 to $1,000, compared with 2007 term premiums of $800-$1,000 "If you imported one tonne of nickel now, you would at least lose 30,000 yuan a tonne." a dealer at a large Chinese trading firm said. Traders said small- and medium-scale stainless steel mills and plating plants were reducing production rates to use less nickel and have completely stopped production.

"Nickel prices are out of control. It is now $1.60 an ounce and this could be the start of a revolt by stainless producers," ABN AMRO global commodities analyst Nick Moore said. "The problem stops and starts with China, but if the Chinese don't buy, who will? They will not want to see material go to competitors who can use it to produce, nor will they want it to go to a merchant who can dribble metal out slowly." Moore noted that Chinese stainless capacity rose by 40 percent in 2005 and by 42 percent in 2006. "I am forecasting a rise this year of 38 percent to 6.5 million tonnes," he said. Smaller Chinese stainless steel mills, concerned that end-users will resist paying higher prices, are reducing their orders, traders said. The most popular 304-grade stainless steel was trading at about 46,000 yuan a tonne in eastern China, against 36,000 yuan in late February. A source at a stainless-steel tube maker in eastern China said the firm was limiting new orders due to the higher risk posed by volatile nickel prices. The firm sold stainless-steel tube used in chemical industry, at about 60,000 yuan a tonne, more than 30 percent higher than late December. The price has risen 6,000 yuan a tonne so far this month. ANZ's Harrington said: "We are getting to a point where producers of stainless steel are starting to react to expensive nickel. Commercial decisions become harder and if people decide to cut back production because of the cost of nickel as an input it could re-establish a ceiling." About two-third of world production of nickel goes into stainless steel." (courtesy and copyright Reuters - taken from UBS Daily Report 3/16/07) 

(comment - if the above is true - it will be interesting to see if the drop in demand is reflected in growing LME inventories, or if mines will start stockpiling to keep prices inflated. More than likely, all that will be gained, will be shortages of stainless this spring/summer. In the short term they might accomplish bringing nickel prices down. In the long term, they could feed another spike in nickel when they resume buying.)

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

  Macquarie Research updated forecast (for price forecast thru 2011, see here)


 Global commodity-price boom 'unstoppable phenomenon' - "South African Mick Davis is nothing if not acquisitive. Under this former Eskom executive director, the London-listed Swiss-based Xstrata plc has seen its share price soar following flurry of acquisitions in the past five years, his latest scalp being that of Canadian nickel giant Falconbridge." - article here

  China raises benchmark interest rates by 0.27% - "China's central bank announced on Saturday that the one-year benchmark interest rates are raised by 0.27 percentage points as of March 18." - article here

  Palace not lifting limits on mineral extraction - "Amid protests by environmental groups and big mining firms, Malacañang has abandoned its earlier decision to lift the limits imposed on the extraction of minerals by small-scale miners across the country." - more here

  News Bite - "The Director of Brazil-based Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD), one of the world's largest mining and metals firms, announced that the company is planning to set up a regional base in Oman, Arab News reported."

  Nickel Prices shooting High Making Indian Stainless Steel Lackluster - "A top industry official reported on January 31, 2007 that burgeoning global prices of nickel together with recently introduced reduced duty on a variety of finished metals would shrink the margins of Indian stainless steel manufacturers." - article here

  Private fund to finance Madagascar mine deal - "Korea plans to launch a fund worth about 200 billion won ($212 million) in June to finance a nickel mine project in Madagascar, as it scrambles to secure supplies of the costly raw material." - article here

  Lead stays in shed as fears grow - "A $23 million pile of lead concentrate is sitting in an old shed at the Esperance port as public health fears grow over the death of thousands of birds in the south coast community." - article here

  Prosecutors confident Indonesian court to find Newmont guilty of polluting bay - "Indonesian prosecutors are confident a court will find a local subsidiary of Newmont Mining Corp. and its top official guilty of polluting a bay with toxic chemicals when judges announce their verdict next month, a prosecutor said Saturday." - article here

  Steel De-Stock Hanging Over Nickel Price Outlook - "Nickel has been a star performer among the base metals in recent months, its price spiking to more than US$20 per pound as demand from the stainless steel market has been surprisingly strong and the supply side response has been slower than anticipated." - article here (forecasts added to our forecast review page)

  Nickel Price Growth Not Worrisome Amid Price Rise For Substitutes - "MMC Norilsk Nickel thinks that the rapid growth of nickel prices is not a cause for concern, as prices are also rising for this metal's substitutes." - article here

  Thanks to one of our Aussie readers, here is a report of the nickel sector, and an extensive review of small to midcap nickel companies  - 'The Nickel Sector - Metal and Equity Report' by FD Capital - pdf here (if you invest in nickel, this is an excellent read. Thanks Bruce!)

  Cheeky thieves steal metals from unimaginable places - "The headless body of a Ukrainian poet, night-time raids on railway depots and the theft of priceless works of art. The ingredients of a Cold War thriller?" - article here

  Did we miss something on this site - Here is a report from 2003 - "3/4 - Norilsk Nickel announces its employees have agreed to extend their labor contract thru 2007." - Has anyone heard about any negotiations going on at Norilsk?

  Flashpoints - A Guide to World Conflicts - here  / Terrorism Knowledge Base - here

  3 part video - Naked Short Stock Sales - part 1  2  3

  Manufactured Landscapes - video just released - (here) (promo intro) Edward Burtynsky captures the awe inspiring expense of modern expansion - "The River of Rust" taken in Sudbury, Canada - here

  Bookmark - online news stand - check the front cover of major worldwide newspapers every day - here

  Trading in review - 3 month nickel opened Friday at $21.45/lb, hit a high of $22.00/lb (new record), a low of $20.97/lb and ended at $21.63/lb. Nickel started the week on Monday morning at $19.28/lb. The lowest of the week was $19.23/lb on Monday, and each day's highest traded price was a new record high - Monday - $20.02/lb, Tuesday - $20.29/lb, Wednesday - $20.41/lb, Thursday - $21.64/lb, Friday - $22.00/lb.  (see bottom of this page for more)

Friday, March 16

  Today's official LME nickel closing - cash - $22.46/lb - 3 month buyer - $21.18/lb. Nickel just won't give in to any pressure. It started the day, much like the past week, and headed up to a new record high of $22.00/lb. Then after news a company that held up to a third of the LME inventory, had reduced its holdings, the market fell sharply. By afternoon though, any thoughts of a pending correction were put on the back burner, and prices headed back up. LME 3 month nickel ended the day and week, and what a week, at $21.63/lb  ($47,700/tonne) (more) (more)  (more) (more) We hope you have a safe and restful weekend, and we leave you with an amazing video clip from nature. (here

  Nickel prices have gone ballistic - "The price of this strategic, silvery-white metal seems to be going as high as the nickel-containing ballistic missiles that defend North American air space. I hate to sound like a broken record, but the price of nickel keeps on breaking records!" - article here (thanks for the plug Stan!)

  CVRD plans own ships to reduce freight costs - "Brazilian mining and metals group CVRD plans to have its own large-scale ships given an increase in freight costs, business daily Valor Econômico reported." - article here

  Norilsk Nickel board approves Denis Morozov as company head-1 - "The board of Norilsk Nickel has approved Denis Morozov as a new general director of the world's largest nickel producer, the company said Friday." - article here

  News Bite - AFX News - " "It's the end of a long emotional week. Volumes (traded) this morning are a lot lower than they have been of late," notes RBC Capital Markets analyst, Alex Heath. He explained that with a high level of investors in the market, fuelling prices to high premiums, "a technical correction is healthy."

  Indications at 7:50 am CST show nickel trading down by $21./lb . Would we sound like a broken record, if we mentioned nickel broke another record today, when it got as high as $22.00/lb? 8 for 12. That is how many days this month we have hit a new record high on nickel. That is also .666%. If you are of a deeply religious nature, of the Christian faith, that may make you want to head for the cellar. This could also make a few investors think about taking some profit before the weekend. And then again, maybe it won't. We will have to wait and see.  (more)  (more)

  TD Bank Financial Group - Weekly Commodity Price Report - pdf here

  Interfax News Bite - China produces 74.25 mln tons of crude steel in Jan and Feb, up 23.1 %

  Nickel Heads for Biggest Gain in 2 Years on Deficit Speculation - "Nickel rose to a record, heading for the largest weekly gain in more than two years, as investment funds bought the stainless-steel ingredient on speculation shrinking stockpiles will create a supply shortfall." - article here

  Dow Jones News Bite - LME nickel poised for consolidation short-term after hitting another record high overnight, technicals now suggest metal's overbought, says Standard Bank.

  China to slash tax rebates on more export products - "China has expanded the list of exports for which it will reduce or remove tax rebates to include some base metal and natural resource products, coal, cement, textiles and high-tech products, a government source told Reuters on Thursday." - article here

  China's Jinchuan ups local nickel prices by $1,292/mt on Mar 16 - "China's largest nickel producer Jinchuan has raised its domestic prices for electrolytic nickel by Yuan 10,000 ($1,292)/mt, effective March 16, 2007, the company said Friday. " - article here

  Base metal prices shine on weak dollar - "Tight supply and bargain hunting by investors have boosted base metals which are attracting fresh investments after last week’s fall Ninety day copper forwards rose to a three-month high, up 3% to $6,440 per tonne, as inventories fell 1,625 tonnes to 1,96,125 tonnes." - article here

  News Bite -  Glencore revenues increased to $ 116.6 billion in 2006, from $91 billion in 2005.

  Metals correction may continue - "ECONOMISTS say it's too soon to pencil in a sustained metal market recovery despite improvements in commodity prices. "The market will remain extremely volatile for the foreseeable future," said Nico Kelder, an economist at The Efficient Group." - article here

  Figures verify resources boom - "Australian miners made hay while the sun shone on the resources sector in the last three months of 2006, with nearly two-thirds of the nation's major mineral and energy commodities posting record production increases for the period." - article here

  Sidenor to raise prices by €40/ton in Q2 - "Spanish Sidenor, producer of special steels (including high alloy steels and stainless steels) and Heavy Forging and Casting Pieces is planning to increases prices by €40/ton for second quarter this year." - more here

  CVRD: Chinese steel production could reach 470Mt in 2007 - "Steel production in China could reach 470Mt this year, Brazilian mining and metals group CVRD (NYSE: RIO) CFO Fábio Barbosa told analysts and investors in a presentation Thursday." - article here

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - minus 30 tons = 3,564 tonnes (32.15% cancelled warrants)

Thursday, March 15

  Today's official LME nickel closing - cash - $22.32/lb - 3 month buyer - $20.95/lb. Inventories fell overnight by nearly 6%, so nickel traders responded by driving the price of nickel higher by as much as 7%. Breaking record benchmarks has become less of a story this month, and more the norm. 7 of the last 11 working days, nickel has set a new all time record high. Today, cash nickel broke thru that impenetrable barrier - the penny a carat, the $1.56 per troy ounce, the $22.68 per pound, and the $50,000/tonne threshold. All for a rock that doesn't even sparkle!  The only people being more hurt by this trend than the stainless steel consumer, are the traders who predicted the market would be down by now, and bet short. And while the doom and gloom crowd have been fairly quiet lately, there have been many pontificators that have forecast the mining good times would be over by now. They are still out there, just muzzled a little by reality, and today 3 month nickel ended the trading day at $21.36/lb ($47,100/tonne) after hitting an earlier high of $21.72/lb (the new record to beat).  (more)  (more)  (more)  Our recommendation - if you know you will be using stainless steel in the next few months, buy it now. The surcharge on 304 stainless is $1.53/lb this month, it will be $1.75/lb next month, and early estimates put it at $2.00/lb for May. 316 stainless is seeing even more of a jump, with molybdenum prices increasing.  

  China suspends new mining rights - "China has banned the issue of new minerals exploration licences through the end of 2007 as it reorganises its mining sector, a regional officer said on Wednesday." - article here

  News Bite - According to Chinese customs statistics, in 2006 China imported 6.78 million tons the amount of scrap non-ferrous metals. 3.1% growth over 2005.

  Inco appoints new board of commissioners - "PT International Nickel Indonesia (Inco) at an extraordinary shareholders` meeting here Wednesday appointed new people to its board of commissioners, including a new president commissioner." - article here

  Planning for a new global giant - "Two years ago today, Morgan Stanley’s chief economist and director of global economic analysis Stephen Roach wrote “The China Disconnect,” and essay warning world financial markets about the prospect of a major economic slowdown in China." - more here

  Oriel Resources has been awarded the 2006 European Mining Deal of the Year by Project Finance Magazine for the funding of it’s 100% owned Voskhod Chrome Project in north west Kazakhstan. - pdf press release here

  Norilsk Nickel plays safe with new CEO appointment - "Norilsk Nickel has appointed Denis Morozov, a deputy to the current chief executive Mikhail Prokhorov, to succeed him in the command spot at Norilsk Nickel." - (article here)   more on Denis Morozov - here

  Canadian support goes to MARS in hunt to find more mine workers - "The mining industry is struggling with a severe shortfall in qualified workers to explore, develop and operate the next generation of mines. Spurred by continuing high commodity prices, the industry has work for 80,000 more people than it expects to find. The shortage is driving labour costs, and the bottom line of most developments, higher and higher." - more here

  India's iron ore export tax scares off Chinese buyers - "India's iron ore exporters said on Wednesday that Chinese buyers, a key market, are not willing to accept a price increase following the imposition of an export duty in last month's Union budget." - article here

  Indications  at 7:45 am CST show nickel trading $.56/lb higher than yesterday's close (every $.45/lb is approximately $1000/tonne). We are now  7 for 11 days - another record is met with nickel rising to $20.91/lb earlier this morning. This new high may be replaced before the end of the day, as the nickel market seems to be feeding off its own adrenaline now.  (more) (more)

  Thieves Swipe Stainless Steel As Prices Go Up - "Most people have heard about metal thieves stealing copper from construction sites and stripping it from air conditioning units. Now it seems burglars are targeting a more common metal that can usually be found in the average kitchen cabinet, reports CBS station KTVT-TV in Dallas." - article and video here

  Best To Pile Up On Bulk Commodities - "One could easily argue that Merrill Lynch's research reports on natural resources this morning are the perfect illustration of investors' attitude towards stocks of resources producers these days. Let's have a look at the various title choices first:" - article here

  Chinese Yuanjiang holds 2007 electrolytic nickel output at 700 mt - "China's Yuanjiang Nickel Industry Ltd. plans to produce 700 mt of electrolytic nickel in 2007, unchanged from the output in 2006, a company official said Wednesday." - article here

  CVRD Inco in Sudbury office staff contract talks - "Labor talks are under way between CVRD Inco and the union representing office, clerical and technical workers at the big nickel operations in Sudbury, Ontario, the company said on Wednesday." - article here

  Inco plans to invest $1 billion to build two nickel plants - "PT International Nickel Indonesia (Inco), the country's biggest nickel miner, said Wednesday it would build two new nickel plants by 2010 at a total cost of US$1 billion." - article here

  Specialty Metals Industry Group Releases Year-End 2006 Market Data - pdf here

  Norilsk`s Prokhorov steps down - "Mikhail Prokhorov has stepped down early as chief executive of Norilsk Nickel - the world`s largest nickel miner - to concentrate on energy projects, says the Russian company." - (article here)   Norilsk Nickel Nominates Denis Morozov As New Chief Exec - "Prokhorov, who owns a controlling stake in Norilsk jointly with business partner Vladimir Potanin through ZAO Interros Holdings, is to leave the company as part of a broader division of Interros' assets." - (article here)

  Benefit record with the SLN - "The flight of the prices of nickel obviously benefits the SLN, which pulverizes its preceding figures with 34 billion frank benefit Net for 2006." - translated article here

  Base metals pare losses, nickel stays up - "Base metal prices pared losses Wednesday after falling in Asia while nickel set a fresh record high as tight supplies supported prices." - article here

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - minus 222 tons = 3,594 tonnes (31.39% cancelled warrants)

For our new visitors
We sometimes forget, as we follow this market daily, that many of our newer visitors, may appreciate a little background on where we are at, and why we are here, when it comes to stainless steel and nickel prices. First, we follow nickel prices on this site daily, because it is responsible for over 60% of the price of stainless steel. Second, we are in the fifth year of rising mineral prices. Nickel averaged $2.70 per pound for all of 2001, and $11.01/lb for all of 2006. Yesterday, nickel was over $20.00/lb. We also follow other pricing factors for stainless. Molybdenum is a key ingredient in 316 stainless. Iron ore and chromium are also important ingredients for all grades of stainless. For US consumers, we also list past, current and future monthly stainless steel surcharges, from three of America's largest suppliers. Third, very low prices for nickel thru the 1990's, stimied mining companies ability to budget for exploration and construction of new nickel mines. This finally caught up with them, when China's economy began to grow at unprecedented proportions in the 21st century, and while all current mines are producing at full strength, they are having serious difficulty keeping up with worldwide demand. And finally, the market is so tight on supply at the current time, that any disruption, or hint thereof, drives nickel prices to new record prices. This month we have experienced record high's on five of the nine working days so far, primarily due to the fact that nickel inventories have not been able to build through the winter, and concerns supply may not be able to keep with demand, as we begin the seasonally busy season for stainless steel, the primary consumer of nickel. Worldwide consumption of nickel is estimated to be approximately 3700 tonnes per day during 2007 (ABARE - 1.35 million tonnes annual). This site provides numerous links to news stories market followers might find of interest. As our readership includes purchasers, sellers, and manufacturers of both stainless steel and nickel, including mining companies and investors, the amount of information may seem over-powering, but we attempt to provide you the single most extensive source of daily information available on the internet.

Wednesday, March 14  

  Today's official LME nickel closing - cash - $21.50/lb - 3 month buyer - $20.18/lb. Another day, another broken record. Every optimistic trader in the world must be investing in nickel right now, because if you look at the worldwide stock markets, it's a different story. (here) If there were any long term economic concerns, the metals markets seemed to shrug them off today. Nickel ended today's trading at $20.32/lb ($44,800/tonne)   (more) (more)

  Top investor warns of Russia stock bubble - "Prominent emerging markets investor Jim Rogers said Russian equity markets were overvalued and could burst "sooner rather than later," revealing the skeletons in the cupboard of its "outlaw capitalism." - article here

  It was just a correction, prices on bull run again - "The commodities bull is alive and kicking. All markets—metals, grains, energy and even fertilisers—are showing a firm up trend in prices, with little likelihood of a demand slump anytime soon. In fact, the volatility in early March was simply a blip that may be safe to ignore, say brokers." - article here

  "Coal faces bleak future in global warming fight: MIT study - "The coal industry faces a bleak future unless ways are developed on a commercial scale to capture and store carbon dioxide in the campaign against global warming, according to a study released Wednesday." - article here

  Ecuador will review oil and mining deals - Correa - "Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said on Wednesday he would renegotiate mining and oil deals, undeterred from his radical leftist reforms by an increasingly fractious power battle with the volatile Andean state's Congress." - article here

  Update. Well we are batting .600 today. 6 out of 10 working days thus far this month, we have set a new record. Today's peak, so far, $20.41/lb ($45,000 tonne)

  Indications at 7:50 am CST show nickel selling up by $.27/lb .  The US markets were shaky yesterday, as the inevitable problems with borrowing to those who can't afford to buy a house, catches up with the system. This concerned traders of copper and aluminum, who watch the housing market closely, while nickel traders are more concerned with any long term affect it might have on the overall US economy. So far, they aren't phased, and nickel is back up this morning. So far our record breaking batting average this month is .556 (5 out of 9). Will we end the day at .6, or split the difference at .5? Stay tuned.  (more) (more) (more)

  Greenpeace founder supports mining; Harper Government does not - "Patrick Moore, founding member and former president of Greenpeace, supports the mining sector. This is the same Patrick Moore, who, with his band of Rainbow Warriors forced the American and French governments to stop nuclear testing, shamed the Russians and Japanese to halt factory whaling and were a nightmare for Newfoundland sealers." - article here

  Mining company urged to waive protesters' $5760 fine - "The Green Party has urged state-owned mining company Solid Energy to waive its right to a court-ordered payment of $5760 from protesters who challenged its right to mine the habitat of a rare snail." - article here

  Canadian company considers mining in Michigan's Upper Peninsula - "A Canadian mining company says it will conduct exploratory drilling near the spot in the Upper Peninsula where Kennecott Minerals Co. wants to mine copper and nickel." - article here

  Australia mineral export earnings up, nickel leads with 21% rise - "Australia's mineral export earnings rose by 2% to A$27.1 billion ($21.2 billion) in the December quarter of 2006 compared with the previous quarter, and nickel led the way as the commodity with the largest increase in export earnings, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics." - article here

  Commodities still in bull market-Schroders  - "Commodities are in the early stages of an extended bull market, especially agriculture where price increases have only just begun, said an emerging markets specialist at Schroders on Tuesday." - article here

  Latin America's shrinking appeal for mining investors - "The allure of Chile and other Latin American countries for mining investors has declined precipitously in the last year, according to a new survey." - article here

  Jyske Bank - Morning Commodities Briefing - pdf here

  News Bite - (courtesy and copyright Dow jones Newswire)  "Russia exported 104,000 metric tons of aluminium in January, compared with 333,200 tons in January 2006, the federal customs service reported Wednesday. All the exported metal went to countries outside the Commonwealth of Independent States and was worth $212 million, compared with $438.3 million in January 2006. Russia's nickel export in January was 15,600 tons, 6.1% more than in January 2006. The exported nickel was worth $501.7 million compared with 209.1 million a year ago. Out of the total nickel export in January 15,500 tons went to countries outside the CIS."

  River System Contaminated - "HIGH levels of toxic metals have been found in the blood samples of people living along the Auga and Angabanga rivers of Central province, a recent study conducted by Dr Sylvestor Kotapu and Associates of Australia has revealed." - article here

  China 's steel products export rose in January-February - "China exported 8.75 million tons of steel products in the first two months this year, up 139.3 percent year-on-year. Steel billet export rose 87.9 percent year-on-year to hit 1.12 million tons in the January-February period, according to customs figures." - article here

  Unions to blame for labour slump - "SINCE 1984. employment in the mining industry has fallen 43 . 61% a fact blamed on everything from increasing mec hanisation to the physical reality of resource exhaustion." - article here

  Storm opens door to mining unions - "UNION heavyweights have demanded a judicial inquiry into safety procedures on mining worksites in Western Australia as they regain lost ground in the resource-rich region, which has been largely de-unionised since the late 1990s." - article here

  Stainless producers planning to cut Q2 nickel purchasing - "European stainless steel mills are decreasing their purchase on nickel for the second quarter while three-month nickel price soared to US$47150 on the LME, market sources said." - more here

  Indonesia Inco plans to build $1 bln nickel plants - "The Indonesian unit of Canada's Inco Ltd. plans to build two nickel-processing plants at a cost of up to $1 billion to tap increasing demand for the anti-corrosive metal used to make stainless steel, its chief said on Wednesday." - article here  and another

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - minus 60 tons = 3,816 tonnes (36.63% cancelled warrants)

Tuesday, March 13

  Today's official LME nickel closing - cash - $21.41/lb - 3 month buyer - $20.03/lb. Concerns over inventory, and the lack thereof, continue to drive the price of nickel higher. With no "major" new sources due to come online until late 2008, current mines maxed out in production, and with many manufacturers fast approaching the beginning of their seasonal "busy period", market speculators are betting on difficulties ahead. A few months ago, anyone saying nickel could hit $50,000/tonne this year, would have been laughed out of the room. Not anymore. Today's trading of three month nickel ended at $19.77/lb ($43,575/tonne), slightly off yesterday's ending price. (more)

  Writers seem to be having all sorts of fun with their article titles with nickel breaking records nearly every day. Here are a few from today "Nickel blazes to new high, oil firm" (article here)  "It's a nickel-and-dime metal no more" (article here)  Two day's supply driving nickel nuts (article here)  " There's No Stopping Nickel" (article here) (we would like to add a few more - "Price of nickel putting stainless producers in pickle" or "Cost for this rock is becoming a crock" or "Allergic to nickel - or the price?")

  Cuba-China Trade Doubled To $1.8 Bln In 2006 - Report - "Trade between Cuba and China ballooned to US$1.8 billion last year, double that of 2005, Beijing's ambassador to the island told a Cuban-government newspaper." - article here

  (not nickel related but could effect lead prices, and another reminder of the perils of the supply chain for minerals)  Port bans lead after mass bird poisoning - "THE Port of Esperance on Western Australia's southern coast has suspended lead carbonate exports and imports following findings that lead poisoning could have been responsible for mass bird deaths in the region." - more here

  China's demand for metals likely to increase - "Rio Tinto Group, the world's third- largest mining company, said China's demand for metals will likely rise, underpinning high prices for commodities this year." - more here

  Updates - On our stainless surcharge page, estimated surcharges for May jumped from $2.9282/lb to $2.9959/lb on 316, and $1.916 to $1.9492 on 304. (more here)  On our forecast page, we added "BNP Paribas publishes annual forecast for nickel at $14.97/lb in 2007 and $9.30/lb in 2008." (more here) (this latter page also offers a very easy to use converter to determine the price of nickel per troy ounce)

  Indications  at 7:55 am CST show nickel selling up by $.09/lb .  How about 5 out of 9? That is how many days this month that we have hit a new record high for 3 month nickel, and today was #5. Nickel hit $20.03/lb at 11:54 am London time. This is the first time in its history, three month nickel has gone over $20/lb. Are we heading for $50,000/tonne - or setting up for a big correction? Stay tuned. (more)  (more)  (more)  (more)

  Reuters Metal Weekly - pdf here

  Behre Dolbear - Global Mining News - pdf here

  Canada Weekly - Commodity Price Update - pdf here

  India ranks 7th in global steel production - "India's steel production ranked the seventh in the world in 2006, up from the ninth in 2004, according to the Indian Government Monday." - article here

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

  Movers: Norilsk bids for stake in power generator - "Norilsk Nickel, the biggest Russian mining company, bid $3.1 billion for a 38 percent stake in the Siberian utility OGK-3, the first time the state would yield control of a power generator." - article here

  Jyske Bank - Commodities Morning Briefing - pdf here

  Newsbite - "Nickel output by mining firm PT International Nickel Indonesia was expected to reach 78,470 tons of nickel-in-matte in 2007, compared with 71,210 in 2006. The ministry's report did not have nickel output forecasts for other producers."

  Posco Raises Stainless Steel Prices for Third Time This Year - "Posco, the world's third-largest steelmaker, will raise the price of its stainless steel products for a second time this month and the third time this year as the cost of nickel, a key raw material, rises." - article here   POSCO seeks own supply of nickel - "POSCO, the world's third-largest steelmaker, plans to secure more than 20 percent of its own nickel to ensure a steadier supply." - article here

  Base metal prices are headed downwards - "The world slowdown has been delayed - not cancelled. That is the message from the metals analysts at BNP Paribas in London and they say - with the exception of tin - base metals are headed for a fall." - article here

  Taiyuan Steel to raise stainless export offers by 5-7% - "Taiyuan Iron & Steel, the largest stainless producer in China, is set to lift its stainless export prices by 5-7 percent on soaring nickel prices, despite the perception that the stainless market tightness is easing, a company official told MB." - (more here)   China Steel to raise 2Q local prices by 3.2% - "China Steel Corp., Taiwan's largest steelmaker, said it will increase product prices for local customers by an average 3.2 percent in the second quarter because of rising demand." - (more here)

  (our $.02 worth of advise) If you haven't noticed, nickel isn't the only thing going up. Molybdenum is an key ingredient used in the production of 316 Stainless Steel. It's jump from $25/lb to $30/lb in the past few days, and the new record high's in nickel, will both have an adverse price effect on your future 316 stainless steel purchases. If you foresee the need to purchase any volume of 316 stainless in the near future, you may want to consider contacting your supplier sooner, rather than later.

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - minus 72 tons = 3,876 tonnes (35.76% cancelled warrants)

Monday, March 12

  Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash $21.14/lb - 3 month buyer - $19.77/lb. Definition - "Backwardation - A market condition in which a futures price is lower in the distant delivery months than in the near delivery months. . ....(from Wikipedia) economist John Maynard Keynes argued that in commodity markets, backwardation is not an abnormal market situation, but rather arises naturally as "normal backwardation" from the fact that producers of commodities are more prone to hedge their price risk than respective consumers. An academic dispute on the subject ensued that continues even today.....(from Investopedia) When backwardation does occur in a futures market it has been suggested that an individual in the short position would benefit the most by delivering as late as possible." The reason we supply this definition is because nickel hit $3000/tonne backwardation today when official closing prices were announced. Not sure if this is a record in itself, but it does give one an idea of how uncertain the market is. And in reference to records, nickel ended the days trading at $19.86/lb ($43,775/tonne)   (more) (more)

  (on the lighter side) How one Chinese developer handles property disputes - here

  From nickel to tallow, commodities are the key - "WHILE Dr Alan Greenspan and the bond market see at least a one-in-three chance of a US recession this year, commodity markets are showing no risk of that happening any time soon." - article here

  Environmental fascism – Mining facing misinformation and downright lies from anti-mining NGOs - "In an interesting initiative at this year’s Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) meeting, the organisers invited film makers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney to show their film – Mine Your Own Business. Following the showing the filmmakers fielded questions about the film itself, as a part of a debate as to how the mining industry should face up to the problems it faces from NGOs who mislead the public with anything from deliberate misinformation to downright lies about the benefits or otherwise that the industry brings to local populations. " - more here   “Mining Information Kit for Aboriginal Communities” pdf here

  Metals Insider - Week in Review - here

  African Rainbow Sticks With Nkomati Amid Nickel Boom - "AFRICAN Rainbow Minerals (ARM) had not received any offers for its 50% stake in the Nkomati nickel mine and regarded nickel as an important part of its portfolio, with significant opportunities arising from the expansion of Nkomati, ARM executive director Pieter Rörich said on Friday." - article here

  China's commerce authorities ask for moly exporters' lists Mar 16 - "China's Ministry of Commerce has said that it requires local commerce authorities to draw up by March 16, 2007, a list of exporters including producers and traders who are eligible to export molybdenum products. " - more here

  Higher Taxes Will Not Stem the Flow of Foreign Investment - "The flow of foreign investment into China will not be affected by China's new corporate tax law, which will apply the same corporate tax rate to both domestic and foreign companies and raise taxes on foreign investments to 25% next year, James Zimmerman, Chairman of AmCham-China, told Interfax." - article here

  China Commodities Weekly - China to introduce molybdenum quotas? - from article - "Chinese January nickel trade figures showed some interesting trends: 1)strong refined metal exports and falling imports, although China remains a large net importer of refined nickel, 2) strong recovery in nickel concentrate imports after a big fall in December 2006, and 3) a huge jump in Chinese exports of ferro-nickel due to customs misclassification of nickel pig iron as ferro-nickel (Fe Ni)." - article here

  China’s Hunger for Nickel Growing, Imported 3.78 Million Tons of Nickel Ore in 2006 - "China reported a 6.8 times growth in nickel ore imports in 2006. The reasons for high imports are China’s burgeoning stainless steel industry and limited nickel reserves." - article here   another

  Rio says boom conditions will continue - "Major miner Rio Tinto has forecast strong demand for its products in 2007 with China's insatiable appetite for metals and minerals expected to continue." - article here

  Well its starting out to be an interesting week already. 3 month nickel has already set a new record this morning at $19.73/lb. That makes a total of 4 out of 7 working days this month, where LME trading has led to a new record high. Indications at 7:55 am CST show nickel selling up by $.50/lb.   (more)  (more)

  Argentine province votes to ban open-pit mining - "Lawmakers in the northern Argentine province of La Rioja have banned open-pit mining in the area, where Canada's Barrick Gold Corp. has been exploring, a local mining official said on Friday." - article here

  High nickel price could damage demand - "THE fundamentals for the stainless steel industry remain strong, but the very high price for key ingredient nickel could prove to be a rationing factor in the sector, said LionOre CEO Colin Steyn." - article here

  Australian Mining Firm DMCI Inks Deal For Nickel-Mining Project In The Philippines - "Australian-based mining firm Rusina Mining NL announced that it has entered into an agreement with Philippine-based DMCI Holdings for initial nickel mining at its Acoje Project in Luzon Island in the Philippines." - article here

  BHP hunts rich pickings in Russia - "ARCTIC Russia’s natural resources are being eyed up for exploitation by global miner and energy major BHP Billiton in collaboration with Russian giant Norilsk Nickel." - article here

  Miners killed in Port Hedland cyclone - "Two Fortescue Metals Group workers have been killed and a further 16 injured during a cyclone in Australia which battered the Western Australian coastline on March 9." - article here

  Friday in review - Metal prices fall hits mining shares - "BASE metals ended lower last week as US jobs data raised worries about demand from the construction and manufacturing sectors in the US." - article here

  Rio Tinto: 2006 Annual report and 2007 Annual General Meeting - press release here

  Analysts warn price slump after unprecedented high prices - "As contributed to nickel price shooting up to the ceiling over US$45,000, stainless steel prices have been consecutively hiked by over US$600/mt for 304 and over US$800/mt for 316L in the past three months since the beginning of 2007, yet subject to another rise over US$200 in April, not to mention the over 20 percent production cut in effect to offset today's high production cost." - article here

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - plus 78 tons = 3,948 tonnes (32.52% cancelled warrants)

Weekend Update, March 10-11   Dry Season Celebration in Myanmar and Burma, Commonwealth Day in Tuvalu, Restoration of Lithuania's Statehood

  Australia Update - Australian Mining Boom Risks Inflation, Costello Says - "Australia's surging rates of mining and energy investment and record commodity prices pose a threat to inflation and are complicating the government's budget plans, Treasurer Peter Costello said today." - (article here)  Cyclone Weakens on Approach to Australia's West Coast - "A cyclone headed for Australia's northwestern coast has weakened, reducing the chance of further major disruption at mining companies including Rio Tinto Group and BHP Billiton Ltd." - (article here)

  News Bite - Mindano, Philippines - "Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines Sunday warned a fragile four-year ceasefire with the government is on the verge of collapse. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said in a statement posted on its website the ceasefire may collapse due to the "military's arrogance and defiance."

  News Bite - "China's coal mining industry is known as one of the most dangerous in the world. Last year 4,746 people died in 2,845 accidents, according to official figures, an average of 13 deaths every day. However, independent labor groups put the death toll at as much as 20,000 miners annually as mine operators tend to cover up accidents to avoid costly shut-downs and fines."

  Commodities as building blocks - (from article) "Next in our list of major growth sectors with strong commodity bias is construction, housing and infrastructure. Commodities that are integral inputs for this sector include industrial metals (mainly steel), base metals (aluminium, copper, nickel, zinc, tin and lead) as also cement." - article here

  Blurb from Interantional News - India - "Standard Chartered analyst Tariq Salaria said that nickel demand was expected to outstrip supply in 2007, with “continued upside (for prices) likely from potential output disruptions.”

 China Exports Trouble, Too - "China, the so-called factory of the world, has just produced its newest product—a global stock-market correction. The 9 percent plunge in the Chinese stock market late last month was a shot heard around the world. The hows and whys of this contagion speak volumes to the new and important role China now plays in driving the global economy and shaping trends in world financial markets." - (article here)   China in the Caribbean Region: Some observations - Chinese companies are increasingly winning many large construction bids in the Eastern Caribbean, for which they also provide the labour." - (article here)

  A New Battery Takes Off in a Race to Electric Cars - "A123Systems, a start-up in Watertown, Mass., says it has created a powerful, safe, long-lived battery. If the cell fulfills the ambitions of its maker, that softer sound will be the future of automobiles." - article here

  Daylight Savings Time begins in the US and Canada Saturday night

  Second Cyclone May Hit Australia's Iron Ore Regions - "Australia's northwestern coast, where most of the country's iron ore is mined, is facing its second severe cyclone in a week, which may again disrupt output at companies including Rio Tinto Group and BHP Billiton Ltd." - article here  Australia government weather here

  Aging Energy Infrastructure Could Drive Molybdenum Demand Higher - "As long as air conditioners keep us cool in the summer and central heating warms us in the winter, all is well in the world. In order to keep this gas and electricity continuously flowing into our homes, molybdenum has emerged as an essential metal to help preserve a challenging energy transportation network. The anti-corrosive qualities found in molybdenum could also help prevent the collapse of the U.S. energy infrastructure." - article here

  US to sell 15,300 tons of radioactive nickel scrap - "The U.S. government wants to unload about 15,300 tons of radioactive nickel scrap, the Energy Department said on Friday, asking for industry input on how to do it safely." - (article here)  DOE Seeking Input on Alternative Uses of Nickel Inventory - "The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is seeking input from industry representatives on the safe disposition of approximately 15,300 tons of nickel scrap recovered from uranium enrichment process equipment at the Department's Oak Ridge, TN, and Paducah, KY, facilities. The Expression of Interest (EOI), released today, will assist in DOE's evaluation of restricted uses of its nickel material for controlled radiological applications. These restricted uses could include use in commercial nuclear power plants, DOE nuclear facilities, or by the U.S. Navy. The Department will solicit input through May 8, 2007." - (article here)  (comment - Anyone else wondering if O'sama needs some new stainless steel silverware for his cave?")

  New kings of Russian bling flash the cash - "Ordinary Russians are beginning to resent the greed of the country's elite, writes Conor Sweeney in Moscow." - (article here)  Want to bet that Russian mogul weds? - "Time is running out on the single - and certainly the swinging - days of the man known as Russia's most eligible bachelor. Mikhail Prokhorov, the tall, fine, feverish spender who amassed a worth of $13.5 billion running the world's largest nickel producer, is getting hitched on May 3." - (article here)

Friday, March 9   Commonwealth Day in Canada, Baron Bliss Day in Belize

  Today's official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $20.42/lb - 3 month buyer - $19.21/lb. Trading ended the day and week at $19.22/lb ($42,375/tonne). It will be interesting to see the inventory levels on Monday. Another increase like today could drive the market sharply lower.   (more)  Have a safe and restful weekend!!

  China Revises 2006 Crude Steel Production Figures - "China's crude steel production increased 19.7% to 422.66 million tonnes in 2006 and steel product output increased to 473.4 million tonnes, up 25.3% from 2005, according to amended statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)." - article here

  (Lionore a target?)  Xstrata targets further acquisitions - "Xstrata declared itself open to further deals on 6 Mar 2007 as it hailed the benefits of its recent acquisition of the Canadian miner Falconbridge." - article here

  Commodity price 'bubble' expected to undergo correction soon, says Nedbank's Mark Tyler - "Commodity price 'bubble' expected to undergo correction soon, says Nedbank's Mark Tyler The current super-cycle that was characterising global resource commodity prices was anticipated soon to recede back to normal trading levels that were primarily dictated by supply and demand fundamentals, Nedbank head of mining and resources Mark Tyler said." - article here

  Demand for mineral commodities may wane - "IF COMMODITY prices start slowing this year, few market watchers will be surprised." - article here

  Exploding profits for CVRD Inco, Xstrata - "Both CVRD and Xstrata saw exploding profits in 2006 due to record prices for most mineral products." - article here

  Scotia Mocatta - Metal Matters - pdf here

 Blurb - US January unwrought nickel imports rose 11.8% over December, but fell 29.6% below January 2006 figures. January 2007 results of 8,331,569 kilograms versus 11,826,382 in January 2006 

  Indications at 7:50 am CST show nickel selling down about $.05/lb . Inventories saw a nice little addition overnight, with a 13% gain. While the highest its been this month, it's a far cry from the 6,594 tonnes we started this year with (a dismal number itself). Unless we witness a rash of profit taking this afternoon, we don't expect to see much movement today. (more) (more)

  Commodity prices flat as market seeks stability - "Commodity prices were trading in a narrow range on Friday as energy, metals and markets sought stability following the gyrations in the past two weeks." - article here

  TD Bank Weekly Commodity Price Report - pdf here

  Indonesia`s Inco 2006 net profit at US$513 mln, up 91.7 pct - "PT International Nickel Indonesia's (Inco's) net profit rose 91.7 pct to 513.4 mln usd last year from 267.8 mln usd in 2005, the company said." - article here

  Consolidation Plays In Metals - "Over the past six months, investors have seen big deal making in the metals and mining industry, as demand in rapidly developing countries like China and India has driven up prices and made consolidation more attractive." - article here

  Brazil's CVRD: Focused On Meeting Global Nickel Demand - "Brazilian mining giant Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (RIO), or CVRD, said Thursday it is working diligently to develop its nickel production in order to meet tight global demand for the raw material." - article here

  Vale Says It Surpasses Norilsk as World's Top Nickel Producer - "Cia. Vale do Rio Doce said it surpassed OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel as the world's biggest nickel producer." - article here

  ThyssenKrupp eyeing 3,500 acres on Tombigbee - "A new business entity that will develop and operate a planned $2.9 billion steelmaking facility in the United States for German industrial giant ThyssenKrupp today announced the launch of a web site that reveals new details about the project." - article here

  Toledo Mining says second shipment of laterite ore left Berong port - "Toledo Mining Corp PLC said a second shipment of about 51,000 tonnes of laterite ore left the Berong port in the Philippines on March 2 and that the shipment, for the Chinese market, was loaded in under seven days." - article here

  Headlines from Russia media - "MMC Norilsk Nickel intends to develop Sayan sulfidno-nikelevoe field (Irkutsk region)." "The Chinese believe that the nickel to reach $ 60,000 per tonne"

  BHPB escapes effects of cyclone - "Melbourne-based BHP Billiton Ltd (BHPB) said that its iron-ore mines escaped serious damage from the severe tropical cyclone George - which struck Western Australia today killing at least two people." - article here

  Japan OKs record coal price - "Australia's major thermal coal producers are achieving record price settlements with Japanese power companies in supply contract negotiations for 2007-08." - more here

  A new face for Goro Nickel - "New shareholder, new engagements, news approaches: Phil of the Roof, director of Goro Nickel for two months, has expressed himself for the first time yesterday. The tone unquestionably changes. The total envelope of the project, it, explodes." - translated article here

  UK stainless steel base price to down - "UK stainless steel base price are expecting to go down in second quarter." - more here

  From yesterday's releases - Eramet quote "Factoring in the effects of industrial disputes, as well as planned revamping of two ore calcining furnaces, the target for metallurgical nickel production at the Doniambo plant in 2007 is about 65,000 t, 5% more than in 2006. Nickel deliveries should be approximately 2,000 tonnes lower than this, in order to replenish inventories of finished products." Bloomberg quote - "Nickel production is expected to rise to 287,000 tonnes from a simulated proforma output of 251,000 tonnes last year, considering full-year production of Canada's Inco, which CVRD bought in October."

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - plus 444 tons = 3,870 tonnes (31.78% cancelled warrants)

Thursday, March 8  International Women's Day, Revolution Day in Syria, San Juan de Dios in Peru, Decoration Day in Liberia

  Today's official LME nickel closing - cash - $20.66/lb - 3 month buyer - $19.48/lb. Nickel ended today's trading at $19.43/lb ($42,845/tonne). Another day, another record. What more can be said, except thank goodness the week is almost over. We have had 6 working days so far this month, and on 3 of them, we have seen a new record high for nickel.  (more) (more)

  Brazil CVRD sees nickel output up 14 pct this year - "Brazil's CVRD, the world's No. 1 iron ore miner, expects to boost iron ore output by 13.6 percent this year and nickel production by 14.3 percent, the company said on Thursday on its Internet site." - article here

  GFMS Metals Consulting Ltd - Market Briefing - here

  Headlines From The Latest Nickel Monthly Report by Brook Hunt - here

  Molybdenum Market Fundamentals Look Solid - "Molybdenum, which is used as an anti-corrosive and as a strengthening agent in steel, attracts little attention in global commodity markets in part because the metal is primarily a by-product of other mining operations." - article here

  A Mega Monster merger - "Mega Uranium Ltd. has struck a deal to acquire Monster Copper Corp. in a stock swap valued at about $48.5-million." - article here

  Protesters interrupt operations at CVRD mine in Brazil - "Brazil's landless farmers blocked access to a mine run by the country's mining giant Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD) on Wednesday, protesting the impact of big companies on the poor." - article here  (for those of you who follow this site, will get a kick out of this, after earlier statement's made by Mr. Agnelli - see December 13, 2006 entry) 

  CVRD presents its 2006 year end results - pdf presentation here   (article)

  North American Average Stainless Steel Prices - Latest Forecast from MEPS - here

  Paladin Resources senior executive killed in plane crash - "A senior Australian mining executive in charge of the development of a new uranium mine in the southern African country died Thursday when his chartered light aircraft crashed. The pilot also was killed." - article here

  Citigroup Changes Iron Ore Outlook; Prices May Rise in 2008 - "Iron ore contract prices may rise 7 percent next year, rather than decline as expected, due to stronger-than-expected Chinese demand, said Citigroup Inc." - article here

  Eramet 2006 Operating Profit Rises 12% on Soaring Nickel Prices - "Eramet SA, operator of the world's largest ferronickel plant, said operating profit rose 12 percent last year on higher prices for nickel and manganese." - article here  (why not greater? from Feb 1st release - "Eramet pursued its hedging strategy, which currently applies to 40% of deliveries planned for 2007. for an average price of about 19000 USD/t (8.60 USD/lb).")

  Sally Malay is now playing with the big boys - "Sally Malay directors have decided to award themselves for years of hard work two days after reporting a nickel discovery significantly larger than market expectations." - article here

  Indications at 7:45 am CST show nickel selling up by another $.50/lb   today. Yesterday's all time record high has already been topped today, when 3 month nickel hit $19.57/lb earlier this morning, and some are predicting there is more to come. Some are even forecasting nickel prices could grow to levels no one would have even dared think a few months ago. We will see.  (more)  (more)  (more)  (more)

  Scrap becoming a precious metal - "When metal recyclers from as far away as Georgia called to buy scrap material from his tool and die shop, Ron Loos figured that prices were probably headed upward." - article here

  Rusina Wins Nickel Contract For Part of Acoje Phillipine Project - "Australia's Rusina Mining Limited is set to become a nickel producer within months under a financing and mining contract announced yesterday for part of its lucrative Acoje project in the Philippines." - article here

  Indonesia's Inco 2006 nickel output down 6.24 pct - "The Indonesian unit of Canada's Inco Ltd. said on Thursday output fell 6.24 percent in 2006 from the previous year to 157.9 million pounds of nickel in matte, or 71,700 tonnes." - article here

  Metals - Standard Chartered raises 2007 nickel price forecast - "Standard Chartered said it raised its nickel price forecast for 2007 as it continues to see delays in new mining projects expected to come on stream this year." - article here

  China's steel products prices forecast to move up slightly in March - "The price hike would be driven by market demand which usually rose as the weather becomes warmer, said Wang Shuangzheng, of the price monitoring center of the NDRC. He would not give the specific increase band, describing it only as "a small margin". - article here

  The trade unions want their share of the profits of Eramet - "Metropolitan trade unions and calédoniens expressed concert, yesterday, to claim a share of the very large benefit of the Eramet group in 2006." - translated article here

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - minus 222 tons = 3,426 tonnes (35.38% cancelled warrants)

Wednesday, March 7  no holidays today but International Woman's day tomorrow

  Today's official LME nickel closing - cash - $20.32/lb - 3 month buyer - $19.01/lb. Did we mention the possibility of new record today? Three month nickel got as high as $19.20/lb today, beating the week old record of $19.14/lb, set on March 1st. For users of stainless steel, this market is slowly going from a bad dream to a nightmare. For those who own stock in nickel producers - the good times roll on. Besides the drop in nickel inventory overnight, the best barometer we have to monitor the current worldwide supply/demand imbalance, the news about the Goro project potentially not coming online until 2009, is unnerving. Xstrata, releasing the numbers yesterday showing the effect the lower grade ore in Sudbury is having on their production, was more bad news. If anymore negative news comes out of Australia about the Ravensthorpe project being delayed any longer than its current projected 2008 start-up, you could see some thoughts of panic begin. And the chances of that happening - would not stretch the imagination too awfully far. If you don't think the market counts on these mega-mines, look what the market has done ever since Voisey's Bay started producing! They told us we needed a new mega-mine every year just to keep up with demand. Apparently, they weren't kidding. With no mega-mines opening in the near future, today's trading ended at $19.05/lb ($42,000/tonne)  (more) (more)

  Prospectors and Developers convention place to be this week - "Seventy-five years old and still going strong as ever. The annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention, which got under way Sunday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, is expecting to see almost 18,000 participants. Like the price of many of the metals its members are searching for, this is a new record high." - article here

  AK Steel and North American Stainless April surcharges released

  Mineral frenzy tips risk scale in Colombia's favour - "It is a place where most foreign industry cannot operate without the protection of the armed forces. A country where the illegal narcotics trade has left a swath of violence. A land that recorded 300 kidnappings last year alone." - article here

  Chinese importers to temporarily boycott Indian iron ore - "A group of Chinese importers have agreed to temporarily boycott iron ore from India to protest a near 10-percent price hike from March 1, Chinese state media said Wednesday." - article here

  (Subscription article but found on a forum within hours) - PDAC ''07 Nickel points to longer bull market - "THE recent run in the nickel price is among the best indicators that the commodities bull run still has a way to go, says CIBC World Markets analyst Barry Cooper." - article here

  Indications at 8:00 am CST were nickel was heading toward record territory this AM, selling up by another $.73/lb.  Whether a new record will be hit today, remains to be seen. (more) (more)

  China nickel export surge due to fears of rebate cuts - Numis - "The recent surge in China's nickel exports is due to fears of an impending cut in the export tax rebate, Numis Securities said." - article here

  Rusina Mining NL Signs Nickel Agreement With DMCI Holdings - "Rusina Mining announced Wednesday that the Company has signed an agreement with DMCI Holdings (DMCI), a well known Manila-based and listed Mining and Civil Contractor, for initial nickel mining of its Acoje Project in the Philippines." - more here

  South Africa: Lots of Talk About Curbing Chrome Ore Exports - "Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka's remarks last week that government would gazette an item this year on controlling exports of chrome ore from SA gave no details away on exactly how this would be done." - article here

  Chinese stainless steel growth seen underpinning ferrochrome prices - "Ferrochrome prices are expected to rise this year, despite analysts' predictions towards the end of 2006 that they would cool, JSE-listed ferrochrome producer Merafe Resources FD Stuart Elliot said on Tuesday." - article here

  China presenting another hurdle for African investors, says Xstrata CEO Davis - "The “aggressive” way in which China was entering Africa was presenting yet another hurdle for mining companies intent on investing in the continent, Xstrata plc CEO Mick Davis said in Johannesburg." - article here

  "Case for commods" seen intact after equities rout - "Last week's slump in metal and energy prices as equities fell may have made some investors who are new to commodities wonder if any of the fundamental reasons for diversifying into raw material markets have changed." - article here

  Yesterday's market in review - "Base metal prices shine after recovery in equity markets" - (article here)  "Metals - Base metals rise as slowdown fears fade, lower stocks boost sentiment" - (article here)  "Commodities: Copper and nickel snap slumps as stocks rebound" - (article here)

  Reuters Metal Weekly - pdf here

  Behre Dolbear Global Mining News - pdf here

  Skye Resources Exercises Fenix Option - "Skye Resources Inc. (SKR.T) has exercised its option to make unconditional its 2004 acquisition of the CVRD Inco Ltd. interest in the Fenix nickel laterite project in Guatemala." - article here

  Stainless steel will continue to cost more - "Finance minister P Chidambaram may have arm-twisted steel companies to roll back their post-Budget price hikes, but stainless steel is expected to still cost more." - article here

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - minus 162 tons = 3,648 tonnes (37.66% cancelled warrants)

Tuesday, March 6  Foundation Day in Norfolk Island, Independence Day in Ghana

  Today's official LME nickel closing - cash - $19.73/lb - 3 month buyer - $18.37/lb. We noticed on a particular investors forum we monitor that some of the "short players" came out swinging yesterday, pontificating the end was near for high nickel prices, and that nickel producer stock was growing more worthless by the minute. Well, they were right - for a whole day. And if one in particular, who has been proclaiming the end of the nickel world for quite sometime now, has actually been making some of the short beats he claims he has, then he has lost enough in the last few months to bankrupt a small nation. We'd feel bad for him, but the few days the price of nickel has actually gone down, he is quick to tell all the long players they are fools for not joining his parade. We don't invest, and since we buy and sell stainless, a part of us wishes he was right more often. That said, the prophet of doom, the pontificator of calamity, and the prince of bankruptcy(if he isn't careful), watched as 3 month nickel end today's trading at $18.33/lb ($40,400/tonne). (more)   

  Iron Ore Producers in Eastern India Halt Exports to Protest Tax - "Exports of iron ore from India's eastern ports have stopped as mining companies are protesting against a tax imposed on overseas sales of the commodity." - article here

  The next big challenge for the mining industry will be to attract new, skilled workers - "You would think the mining boom would make the industry a natural destination for young people in search of work. Yet the Canadian mining industry remains plagued by a shortage of engineers and skilled tradespeople, says the Conference Board of Canada." - article here

  Talks on Ferrochrome Price "Will Be Tough" - "Ferrochrome producers are hoping to negotiate an increase in the second quarter’s contract price from the stainless steel industry in talks starting shortly but negotiations are expected to be difficult, Merafe Resources CEO Steve Phiri said on Friday." - article here

  Vale Considers Environmental Changes to Goro Nickel Project - "Cia. Vale do Rio Doce, the world's largest iron-ore producer, is considering changes to its $3 billion Goro nickel mine in New Caledonia as it studies plans to cut costs and deal with environmental concerns." - article here

  Children's slides feed Beijing Olympic metal boom - "The next time Japanese children turn up at their local park to find that their slide has disappeared overnight, they could try blaming the rise in world metal prices." - article here

  From Xstrata presentation - "...while nickel supply is forecast to increase by 7%, or about 95,000/tonne in 2007, this additional supply will not be enough to satisfy anticipated demand, even when factoring in a decelerating economic cycle."

  More on Xstrata - it's their day to shine - (annual reports here) - 'Xstrata has faith in metal prices after $2.5bn profit' - (article here)  'Xstrata Full-Year Profit Rises to $4.89B' - (article here) - 'Xstrata looks to sue over report' - (article here)

  Indications at 8:00 am CST show nickel selling up by $.49/lb . News that the Goro project won't be producing nickel until late 2008 is probably having an effect on the markets. The earthquake in Indonesia was not on the island of Sulawesi so will have no effect on nickel production, but the death toll is expected to grow.   (more) (more)

  Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Market report - pdf here

  Canada Commodity Price Update - pdf here

  Xstrata looks at $3B nickel mine - "Xstrata Plc, the world's fourth-largest nickel producer, plans to decide "this summer" whether record prices for the metal justify the cost and political risk of developing the Koniambo mine in New Caledonia." - more  and more detail here

  CVRD aims to complete Goro nickel project by end-2008 - "Brazilian miner CVRD plans to complete its Goro nickel-mining project in the French territory of New Caledonia by end 2008 to meet growing demand from stainless steel makers in China, its chief executive said." - article here

  Zimbabwe: BNC to Start Work On New Nickel Mine - "Nickel giant Bindura Nickel Corporation has resolved to finance a pilot project for the Hunter's Road venture with its own resources pending finalisation of their partnership deal with a potential investor." - article here

  Extreme "Resource Nationalism" threat - "Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, and China were among the riskiest countries for mining exploration because they practiced the most extreme forms of resource nationalism, delegates to the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada international convention were told yesterday." - article here

  (on these two links, click continue and link takes you to printable page. When print command pops up, just hit cancel and read the article) Rusty Oil & Gas Pipes Could Drive Molybdenum Demand Higher - "As long as air conditioners keep us cool in the summer and central heating warms us in the winter, all is well in the world. In order to keep this gas and electricity continuously flowing into our homes, molybdenum has emerged as an essential metal to help preserve challenging energy transportation network. The anti-corrosive qualities found in molybdenum could also help prevent the collapse of the U.S. energy infrastructure." - article here  and 'Energy Guru Eric Sprott Wants More Molybdenum' - "Canadas legendary natural resource investor, Eric Sprott, has got moly fever! His eponymous management firm is now preparing a molybdenum participation fund, which will buy and sell physical molybdenum. The Sprott Molybdenum Participation Corp will also invest in companies that explore for, mine and process the metal." - article here

  Davis strikes it rich at Xstrata - "Never mind copper and nickel. Natural resources giant Xstrata has been a goldmine for boss Mick 'the Miner' Davis." - more here  and 'Xstrata profit tops forecast, says outlook sound' - "Swiss-based miner Xstrata Plc beat forecasts with a 119 percent rise in 2006 adjusted net profit, boosted by strong copper and nickel prices, and said on Tuesday the industry outlook remained positive." - article here

  UPDATE: China To Soon Announce Tax Changes For Steel Exports - "China's government is rolling out further measures to curb the country's steel exports while at the same time trying to prevent a domestic glut, in the hope of stabilizing domestic prices." - more here

  Abare:Nickel Prices Seen +52% '07 On High Demand,Tight Supply - "World nickel prices are forecast to rise 52% on year to an average of $36,750 a metric ton in 2007 on demand growth and supply constraints, a report by the state-run Australian Bureau of Agricultural & Resource Economics, or Abare, said Tuesday." - (article here)  and the full ABARE report - pdf here or HTML here  (comment - For ABARE to raise their 2007 forecast for nickel from $11.23/lb to $16.67/lb in 2 months is amazing as they have a reputation for being one of the more pessimistic forecasters)

  Reviews of yesterday's market - "Commodities hit hard as risky assets shed" - (article here)  "Confidence takes a tumble as commodities retreat continues - (article here)  

  Atlas in full nickel commercial operation - "Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp. said it had made a second shipment of nickel ore to China from its mine site in Palawan Island, with more shipments being planned for this month." - article here

  Natural Resources Canada - Nonferrous Metals Outlook - pdf here

  '06 metal thefts cause 2 bil. yen losses - "About 5,700 cases in which metal products such as car barriers, chains and electric cables were stolen resulted in 2 billion yen in losses last year nationwide, according to the National Police Agency." - article here

  Allegheny Ludlum publishes nickel surcharge for April 2007. 304 Stainless Steel - $1.7421/lb and 316 Stainless Steel - $2.6703/lb

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - plus 120 tons = 3,810 tonnes (37.32% cancelled warrants)

Monday, March 5

  Today's official LME nickel closing - cash - $19.26/lb - 3 month buyer - $17.94/lb. All metals spent the day in red territory as the bulls took a breather, and a bear, somewhere, woke up long enough to sniff the air for the aroma of nickel inventory. It was there, but still far too faint for him to be convinced his hibernation would be over anytime soon. Today's ending nickel trading price ended 4% lower than it opened at $17.83/lb ($39,300/tonne). (more)  (more)

  Metals Insider - Week in Review - here

  Released today - USGS Mineral Industry Survey "Nickel in September 2006 - here

  Citigroup Mining and Metal Prospects - pdf here

  Desjardins Monthly Review of Prices of Commodities - pdf here

  Cuba oil boom may complicate U.S. embargo - (quote from article) "Sherritt is on the `short list' of companies that will have very serious civil as well as criminal legal problems in Cuba when the Cuban people recover their sovereignty and have a government that fights for their rights," Diaz-Balart said." - more here  (remember the children's story - "I'll huff and I'll puff, or I'll blow your house down?" This particular house has the backing of the Canadian government and the WTC.")

  Nanotube growth captured on video - "An international research group led by Cambridge University has produced real-time video footage that sheds new light on how carbon nanotubes are nucleated." - article here

  Indications at 8:00 am CST show nickel  is down by $.48/lb  (more)  (more) The correction we witnessed last week in worldwide stock markets, is continuing today, and metals is buckling under the negative pressure. Some media is reporting that investors are taking their commodity profits to cover losses in equities. Maybe, but the general market sentiment among traders is nervous tension and metal traders are not immune, however bullish the fundamentals. We were actually surprised this morning to learn that after inventories saw a gain, however small, nickel hit a new record high in early morning trading. By the time we got to work, this optimism was gone and trading was deep in the negative. We expect to see more of the same this week, with prices see-sawing up and down.  

  Base metal prices may lack last year's luster - "Base metal prices this year are unlikely to match the red-hot performance of 2006, although price estimates so far may be too gloomy, said senior HSBC mining analyst Victor Flores." - article here

  China's growth to fuel copper, nickel demand: Expert - "An urban construction boom in China over the next decade will fuel the global market for copper, an analyst told delegates at an international commodities convention on Sunday." - article here

  CVRD Postpones Decision On Goro Nickel But Says Good Progress - "Brazilian miner Cia. Vale do Rio Doce (RIO) has postponed a decision to progress its Goro nickel project in New Caledonia but said it was pleased with discussions with authorities and local communities, the company said late Friday." - article here

  Atlas to Ship 150,000 Tons of Nickel Ore to China - "Atlas Consolidated Mining & Development Corp., the third-largest Philippine metal producer by market value, said its Berong nickel mine will ship 150,000 metric tons of ore to China this month." - more here  and more detail

  Bombay Metal Exchange News - Metal prices fall due to lack of fresh demand - "Metal prices fell due to lack of fresh demand, traders at the Bombay Metal Exchange said today." - more here

  Steel News - China to Close Dirty Steel Mills (more here)  Steady growth predicted for steel (more here)  Steelmakers Plan to Hike Product Prices (more)  Mittal sees strong iron ore, scrap prices (more here) 

  Quote in Russian media - ""The prices of nickel, copper and zinc is unpredictable," says one London trader. Although nickel stocks rose, the market is still very stretched, and we think that it is to continue at least through the end of March. "Arguing that can be quite active nickel sales in the future, a lot more swelling, he advised nevertheless be cautious. "They [investors] at a certain point, of course, will surrender. Want to play demote easy, but it must be remembered that the market up is always faster than down, "he said. (courtesy

  Analysts warn tough months for resource investors - "He told investors to “look for balance” but that the market “is not falling apart”. He attributed the source of last week’s market jitters – which briefly clipped the value of mining shares and saw copper and gold prices dip – on sales in Japan’s yen carry trades." - article here

  Samancor argues for market-led change on chrome exports - "Johannesburg-based chrome-miner and ferrochrome producer Samancor Chrome on Monday applauded the South African government's effort to “put the South African chrome industry on the correct track through the beneficiation of chrome ore”, but argued that market-led intervention would be a better approach than policy change." - article here

  New Caledonian group suggests Goro nickel plant should be built abroad - "A New Caledonian group opposed to the three-billion US dollar Goro Nickel project says its operator should consider shifting the planned plant to a larger country, such as Australia." - article here

  OM Group Q4 profit rises on record nickel prices - "OM Group Inc., a maker of metal-based specialty chemicals, said fourth-quarter profit rose, mostly due to "dramatically higher" nickel prices." - article here

  Is moly on brink of being mining megastar? - "It's rare, difficult to trade and next to impossible to pronounce. But thanks to the surging interest in all things metals and mining, molybdenum is about to get its own investment fund." - article here  and Moly facts - here

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - plus 204 tons = 3,690 tonnes (40.98% cancelled warrants)

Saturday, Sunday March 3-4  Weekend Review  Martyr's Day in Malawi, National Day in Bulgaria and Morocco, National Unity Day in Sudan(what?!), Hina Matsuri in Japan, Fete Du Trone in Morocco, Holi for Hinduism, Purim for Judaism

  Metal prices to hold amid turmoil - "BASE metal prices should remain strong despite the global equities rout pushing prices down last week, as supply constraints continue to push up prices, analysts say." - article here

  Norilsk eyes new nickel province in Irkutsk region - "MMC Norilsk Nickel has applied for the rights to explore and mine the Barbitai-Iyskaya property of the Sanaksyaka nickel province in the Eastern Sayany mountains in Russia's Irkutsk region, the region's department of Russian subsurface resources agency Rosnedra told Interfax. Rosnedra will decide by  mid-March if it will put the property up for auction. Exploration at the property has been funded by the federal budget since 2005" Courtesy and copyright by Interfax - source

  Machine South: CVRD gives guarantees but does not advance any figure - "Roger Agnelli, chairman of the Brazilian mining company, spent twenty-four hours on the territory. If it had in its bags some news reassuring as for the environment, it also recognized that the total investment was going to be re-examined with the rise." - translated article here

  Updated chart added showing nickel inventories and LME price over last 2 years - see "Stainless Charts and Graphs"

  Market set to open lower - (quote form article) "He believed significant selling in commodity and base metal markets offshore - notably gold, zinc, nickel and lead - should also see a flight to safety from diversified resources and mining stocks." - rest here  and "China syndrome to continue" - article here

  Worries Over Record Australia Mine Exploration - "Australia's chief minerals industry lobbyist Friday welcomed news of record spending on exploration but said the high number masked some worrying trends for miners." - article here

  Stepping into the big boys club - "Cynthia Carroll joined one of Britain's most exclusive clubs this week when she was installed as chief executive of Anglo American, the global mining giant. Currently, the club -- of female chief executives of FTSE 100 companies -- has just three members: Carroll, Marjorie Scardino of Pearson and Dorothy Thompson of Drax." - article here

  Alcan shares jump on takeover talk - "Shares of Alcan Inc., the world's second-biggest aluminum producer, rose the most in two weeks on speculation Brazil's Companhia Vale do Rio Doce may make a takeover bid." - article here

  BNC to Get Boost From New Discovery - "Bindura Nickel Corporation (BNC) this week said nickel reserves had been boosted by the discovery of ore at its Hunters Road claim, saying this would extend the mine's lifespan from 2013 to 2022." - article here

  Steelworkers OK labor pacts with Allegheny units - "Members of the United Steelworkers union (USW) have ratified new four-year contracts at two units of specialty metals producer Allegheny Technologies plants, the union said on Friday." - news here  and "Top union honchos stepped in to help close AK Steel deal" - more here

  Steel buyers' stocks exceed demand, but business outlook good:ISM - "Steel buyers have showed more patience in the market against the backdrop of still-lofty inventories, according to a report released Friday to Platts Steel Markets Daily from the National Steel Buyers Forum of the Institute for Supply Management." - article here

  Buyers will pay even more than they planned in 2007 - ""Price containment has been a challenge," a senior buyer of nonferrous metals reports from Florida. "The upward pressure is growing." - article here

  Nickel hits another benchmark - (from Friday) "Nickel prices hit another record high yesterday, securing the metal's position as the best-performing commodity so far this year." - article here  (we keep a running list of all nickel forecasts by the experts we find here)

  Fox re-starts Radio Hill nickel production - "Leederville-based mining company Fox Resources Ltd has recommenced nickel production at its Radio Hill operations, enabling it to meet its offtake agreement with Chinese nickel producer Jinchuan Group Ltd." - article here

  CVRD's Goro still under review, improvements eyed - "Brazilian mining giant CVRD is considering making environmental and other improvements at its Goro nickel-mining project in the French overseas territory of New Caledonia, it said on Friday following a two-day visit by its chief executive." - article here (this article mentions rumors flying that CVRD may back out of this project. We repeat our belief that any such rumor is total poppycock. CVRD bought a jewel when it purchased Goro. The only way we will see them back out of this project is if someone offers to purchase the mine for an amount they simply can't refuse - or nickel prices fall to 2001 levels - which won't be happening)

  The mining boom gathers pace - "This is good for the mining industry worldwide, and the big players overseas have been announcing extraordinary results. Furthermore, they are all rushing to the Philippines, which is rich in nickel, copper, gold and numerous other minerals." - article here (skip the first paragraph) and why miners must be careful rushing into the Philippine's - (geopolitical reason #1 here ) and (geopolitical reason #2 here) - all 3 article from Friday's news

  Blurb - Taiwan's 2006 stainless steel imports fall 5%; exports up 4%

  A Jemaah Islamiyah surge bodes ill for Poso - "INDONESIA’S Central Sulawesi has once more been hit by a rash of bombings, assassinations and terror attacks behind which many see the hand of a regional terror group, writes Amy Chew." - article here  (island where PT Inco and PT Antam mine nickel, and Rio is possibly planning to invest in a new nickel mine)

  Papua, the TNI, Indonesia and the USA - "The Indonesian military (TNI) has once again unleashed terror in the highlands of Papua. Thousands of indigenous, predominantly Christian Papuans have been ethnically cleansed from their villages and driven into the inhospitable jungle where many will die." - article here  

  Not nickel related - Rusoro Mining Sees Venezuela as Right Place - "Rusoro Mining announced this week it raised C$72 million in a brokered private placement of 31.3 million units of soon-to-be acquired Mena Resources. With its successful closing, management sees no reason to be concerned about operating in Venezuela." - (comment - with the nationalization of mineral assets going o in South America, and specifically in Venezuela and Bolivia, this is a gutsy, or stupid, move)

  Not nickel related but could be interesting to investors - BMO Forecasts Continued Uptrend in Uranium - (quotes from article) "At present, 442 nuclear plants are operating in more than 31 countries, accounting for 16% of electrical production worldwide....On the demand side, 29 nuclear-power plants are being built worldwide with over 100 more in the planning stages." - article here  and problems of mining uranium here

  Not nickel but mine related - Protests Mount Against Mining Giant - "Dangerous levels of lead and arsenic have been found in the blood of Honduran villagers living downstream from a controversial gold and silver mine owned by Canada's Goldcorp Inc., the world's third largest gold mining firm." - article here

  Couple of stainless steel conferences - 3rd Asian Stainless Steel Conference Hong Kong, China June 7- 8, 2007 and 6th International Nickel, Stainless & Special Steel Forum Helsinki, Finland September 25- 27, 2007 - more here 

  Linkfest - Miss your favorite tv episode? Or maybe you don't get American cable but would like to watch out programming? Well now you can - 13 links listed here  (Our favorite isn't on the list TVLinks. If you have broadband and no HBO, the series 'Band of Brothers' was a great series that followed a unit thru the European theatre of Second World War here - we checked and a few of these offer porn also, so be careful sharing with the kids)

  Linkfest - Global Population Density Map - here

  Linkfest - want to know how your country fared in the recent World Economic Forum "Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index" - find the info here Switzerland, Austria and Germany rank as the top 3.

Friday, March 2  Peasants' Day in Myanmar / Burma, The Fast of Nineteen Days for Baha'i,

  Today's official LME nickel closing - $20.09/lb - 3 month buyer - $18.73/lb. Backwardation was at $3000/tonne on the official closing prices, the difference between the cash and 3 month price ($44,300 and $41,300). After spending the day see-sawing up and down, today's trading on 3 month nickel ended at $18.60/lb ($41,000/tonne) (more) Another week is in the history books. We help you start your weekend today with a little tune from our neighbors to the north. So crank up the speakers and listen to Canadian tribute to hard working miners called "Sudbury Saturday Night" "The girls are out to Bingo and the boys are gettin' stinko, And we think no more of INCO on a Sudbury Saturday night." - song here  Have a safe and relaxing weekend!!

  Corruption probe report impacts mega-miner Xstrata, Resources Minister and Precious Metals Australia - "A growing scandal resulting from a West Australian corruption investigation has resulted in the firing of two cabinet ministers, and possible litigation by Swiss mega-miner Xstrata." - article here

  The Jubilee nickel bandwagon marches forward - "Medium-sized West Australian miner Jubilee Mines NL, is maintaining the good news factor that has made it one of the world’s most profitable, if not the most profitable, nickel producer." - article here

  China blurb - "Sichuan imported 344,000 tons of chromium ore in 2006, up 41 percent from 2005, due to dramatic growth in China's stainless steel industry last year, Chengdu Customs said yesterday"

  Brook Hunt Nickel Monthly Report - here

  Of Nickel, Minara and Rio Tinto - "The nickel price has risen 36% from US$14.95/lb on January 3 to around US$20.30/lb currently. Merrill Lynch notes the key driver, outside of solid demand, has been a fall in LME stocks from 6,570t to 3,282t over the period." - article here

  China's Industrial Commodities Consumption Continues Growth in 2006 - "China's industrial commodities consumption continued to grow in 2006 thanks to its fast economic expansion, according to the National Bureau of Statistics." - article here

  An uneasy calm over London - (quote from article) - "And suggestions of a link-up between mining giants Anglo American and Xstrata continued. JP Morgan Cazenove resigned from its position as broker to Anglo this week, with traders pointing out the move could be because of potential conflicts of interest: Caz is also broker to Xstrata. Anglo added 24p to £24.12 while Xstrata fell 13p to £23.27." - rest here

  Nickel project on track: Madagascar - "Dynatec Corp disclosed that construction work on the Ambatovy Nickel Cobalt project in Madagascar will commence in mid-2007. The project, utilizing 600,000 tonnes of sulfur, will produce sulfuric acid for use in the pressure acid leach nickel laterite operation." - article here

  Liquidity worries send base metals lower - "Base metals prices came under fresh downward pressure on Friday as risk-averse investors, rattled about liquidity drying up, continued their retreat from the volatile market, analysts said." - article here

  Sylvain Néa leaves the SLN - "The trade-union person in charge initialed Wednesday a document officializing his departure in retirement. He thus makes it possible to the ten paid bachelors December to return in the bosom of the SLN, but definitively gives up his trade-union activity within the company." - translated article here

  March's madness: Getting ready for hurricanes - "There's no doubt that the world is experiencing a commodities supercycle -- a boom in resources that's likely to last for at least another decade." - article here

  Commodities remain under pressure - "Oil prices edged higher on Friday while gold recovered from a fall below the $660 level in Asian trade at the end of a turbulent week for commodities." - article here

  China is the key to the commodities market - "The market has knocked the stuffing out of many commodities of late. Crude oil is down 35% from its record high of $78.40 in July to a 19-month low as I write. The CRB Index of 19 commodities is off about 20% since May. The only commodities holding up seem to be in the agricultural markets." - article here

  DEQ withdraws tentative backing of Kennecott mine - "A company's plan to drill for nickel and copper in the Upper Peninsula was thrown off track Thursday as state regulators acknowledged they hadn't adequately considered reports questioning whether the mine's roof would hold up." - article here

  GMK Norilsk Nickel Bought U.S. OM Group - "GMK Norilsk Nickel has announced it completed the deal to buy out nickel assets of the U.S. OM Group, RBC reported. " - article here

 Indications at 8:00 am show nickel selling down by $.12/lb .   (more)  Due to difficulties with internet access this morning, we were unable to update with more stories. We should have a large update at 12:30 pm CST. Thank you for your patience.

  Indian ore tax to boost China preference for Brazil - "Indian export duties for iron ore, introduced unexpectedly on Thursday, are set to speed up China's shift to Brazilian supplies, despite high freight costs for bringing the raw material from South America." - article here  and another

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - plus 144 tons =   3,486 tonnes  (39.93% cancelled warrants)

Thursday, March 1  Instauration de la Republique in Switzerland, Memorial Day in the Marshall Islands, Independence Day in Bosnia-Herzegovina, St David's Day in the UK & Northern Ireland, Labour Day in Western Australia, Martisor in Romania, and Yap in Micronesia

A humorous look at economics - for those always 1/2 day ahead of us Yanks - Have a nice weekend!!

  Today's official LME nickel closing - cash - $20.56/lb - 3 month buyer - $18.96/lb. The bull re-affirmed clear control of the nickel market today, and 3 month nickel ended the day at $18.82/lb ($41,500/tonne) (more) And here is some fodder for the NGO's who have been fairly quiet this week. What is "really" causing this problem is not nearly as important as a mine is suspect here and here

  Antam nickel profit rise - "PT Aneka Tambang (Antam), Indonesia`s second largest ferronickel producer, has announced that its full-year unaudited profit rose 85% on the back of higher prices for the metal." - article here

  Steel prices forecast to rise from Q2 - "Global steelmakers are likely to raise prices in the three months from April on strong Chinese prices and expectation of better inventory control in the developed markets, a research institute affiliated with POSCO said yesterday." - article here

  TD Bank Financial Group - Quarterly Commodity Report - pdf here

  A reader brought something to our attention that we missed Monday. Nickel miner Lionore released it 4th quarter earnings Monday, and in the report, the company mentions it has 5,185 tonnes of nickel it has produced but not yet sold. At $45,000 per tonne, we will let you figure out how much this stockpile of rock is worth today? (they figured its value on Monday of $73.4 million - after taxes. Nickel has gone up since.) More on the report here  company site here

  Japanese moly buyers in search of alternatives for Chinese - "Japanese molybdenum traders and consumers are in search of alternatives as China is expected to cut exports of the metal as a result of the introduction of a quota system, local sources said." - article here

  CVRD chief executive to visit Goro nickel project - "The chief executive of Brazilian mining giant CVRD will visit government officials and employees this week at its Goro nickel-mine project in the French overseas territory of New Caledonia, a development that is opposed locally." - article here

  China threatens Europe’s aluminium recyclers - "Chinese competition and its huge demand for scrap metal threaten Europe’s aluminium industry, speakers told a recycling conference in Germany." - article here

  From China Steel Newsletter - "In 2007, the least possible crude steel production in China may increase 46 million tons to as much as 466 million tons, 10% up over 2006; while the highest possible production may increase 65 million tons reaching 485 million tons, 15% up over 2006. It is forecasted in 2007 the growing rate of the demand for crude steel in China would be no higher than 10%, with the optimistic estimation being 9%, and the lowest estimation being 6%, while the respective apparent consumption would be 422 million tons and 410 million tons. Owing to the growth rate of steel production in China would be higher than that of consumption, so the net steel export quantities from China would be increased to a large extent. To realize the general balance between supply and demand, China's net crude steel export should reach 44 million tons. Judging from the above the relations between supply and demand in China's domestic steel market would be further deteriorated in 2007 with the surplus production volume to be digested by relying on export to the international market. Even though the government eliminates the export rebate the enlargement of steel export would not be able to be held back." (courtesy - China Steel) and related article here

  Indications at 7:50 am CST were nickel was selling up by $.11/lb .  At 10:21 a.m.London time, 3 month nickel hit $19.05/lb ($42,000/tonne), which set a new all time record. (more) And while we have carried numerous stories about scrap theft and people who have killed themselves trying to steal copper wiring, now people are getting killed over stolen copper. (article here)

  China shock hits global ferromoly consumers scrambling for offers - ""China shock" has hit ferromoly consumers worldwide, scrambling to obtain firm sell offers, sources in Japan and South Korea told Platts on Thursday." - article here

  Bloomberg reports Brook Hunt is forecasting a 22,000 tonne deficit in nickel production to consumption in 2007.

  Anti-mine group asks county board to oppose Kennecott - "Several citizens opposed to Kennecott Eagle Minerals’ proposed mine in the Yellow Dog Plains appeared at the Marquette County Board’s Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday night to ask the board to reject a resolution supporting the plan." - article here

  China's import of refined nickel in January 2007 is 9,735 mt, a 54.5% increased compared to 6,300 mt imported in January 2006.

  Iron ore export duty effective immediately - "An export duty of 300 rupees per metric tonne on iron ore announced in India's budget is effective immediately, even though the financial year does not start until April, a finance ministry official said on Thursday." - article here

  (Good news for Xstrata and bad news for China) - SA to ban raw chromite exports - "South Africa's Department of Minerals and Energy planned to gazette legislation preventing South African chrome miners from exporting unbeneficiated chrome ore, Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said on Thursday." - article here

  The Brazilian model allures the usual senators - "The usual senators left to visit the mining installations of CVRD, at Brazil, presented a report/ratio at their counterparts, yesterday. What they saw over there their rained. Remain with good to transpose it, estimate they." - translated article here

  Courtesy Yieh Corp - "Yusco and Tang Eng Steel increase their stainless steel price by US$212.25 to US$242.57/mt in March owing to soaring nickel price."

  Today's beginning nickel inventory - plus 48 tons =   3,342 tonnes  (40.45% cancelled warrants)

Daily Comparison         (* = per lb) or (+ = per tonne) (^ = new record high on this day)


LME Stock Level +

Cancelled Warrants

Official Cash Close *

Official 3 months close *

Day's Ending *

Daily Volume


















































































































































































3 month nickel averaged $17.31/lb in February, $11.01/lb for all of 2006, $6.69/lb in 2005

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All prices, unless marked official closing prices, are indications only of LME traded prices and courtesy IFS. (Molybdenum prices are for molybdenum oxide, an ingredient and major price factor in 316 stainless) (all ton listings are metric tons = 2204.6 pounds ) Updated daily before 8 am CST and around 12:45 pm CST weekdays, with some weekend updates Flags courtesy (19X13) - Disclaimer



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