This page is archived news covering the period of March 2008
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Updated daily M-F before 8:00 am CST and by 1 pm CST

Monday, March 31
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $13.52/lb 3 month buyer - $13.68/lb (14.86% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 12 to  8,081. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - minus 108 tonnes from Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 18 tonnes from Baltimore, MD, USA warehouse
  • National Association of Purchasing Management - Chicago survey came in with a stronger reading than expected, although still below 50, which indicates an expanding business sector. Dollar slumped against the US dollar again. Metals were mixed, but mostly down. While the union is saying the Cerro Matoso strike is not over yet, it appears to be nothing more than technical details to be completed. Lot of reports over the weekend about a commodity bubble getting ready to bust. While we agree with those who feel much of the price activity goes well beyond the supply/demand parameters, we seriously doubt we will see any massive downturn anytime soon... at least with nickel. RBC, in a recent report, stated "Nickel prices are not behaving consistently with the historic inventory price relationship. Despite inventories having risen well above the critical level, prices have not fallen back below $10/lb, as would be expected." (see, we aren't the only ones confused by recent market 'increases') As long as funds continue to look for protection from inflationary risks, and the US economy doesn't enter into a "depression", we honestly can not see nickel prices doing much more than they have over the last 4-5 months. In the same report, RBC estimated nickel would average $14/lb this year, and we feel that is a fairly safe bet. The news of the Colombia nickel strike ending dragged nickel down early, with an attempt in the afternoon to regain ground, only to back off again late. For the day, three month nickel ended the day - and month - at $13.49/lb ($29,750/tonne). Tomorrow is new fund allocation for the second quarter.
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Strike At BHP's Colombian Nickel Mine Still Not Over -Union

  • The strike at the Colombian Cerro Matoso nickel mine owned by Australian mining company BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) is not completely over, a union leader said Monday. - more

  Commodity Comments

  • Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "Nickel supply growth has "significant upside risk," says JP Morgan analyst Michael Jansen. New projects from Goro and Ravensthorpe could drive prices lower in the next 12-to-24 months."

  News Bites

  • Norway - Nikkelverk Nickel Refinery will be the next round of union negotiations to watch, with the current contract expiring May 31st.
  • China - There is a new aggression from Chinese companies and they will increasingly make hostile takeover bids as they engage more fully with world financial markets. - more
  • Tire Shortage Continues - A chronic global shortage of giant off-road tires for earthmovers and mining equipment is having some unusual consequences. - more
  • Power problems - A report from Barclays Capital says a global shortage of electric generating capacity is dramatically curbing world metal production, which could mean sustained commodity price hikes over the next several years. -article half way down page from 21st

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.16/lb . As we reported on Sunday, the union at Cerro Matoso voted to accept the most recent offer by BHP and are returning to work today, ending a 4 week old strike. Shortly after Mr Meir's posted his report below, the price of nickel stopped its downward fall, and has been slowly gaining. At one time, down over $1000/tonne, it is now down by around $350 tonne on the day. LME nickel inventories slumped by 126 tonnes overnight, with inbound shipments taking a rest after two rather enormous shipments last week.
  • Bloomberg - more

  Reports

  • Haywood Metals & Mining Weekly - pdf here
  • (India) Karvy Metals Insight - permanent link now in right column under India flag

  Commodity Comments

  • MF Global Ed Meir's Morning Comment - "LME metals finished lower on Friday, as weakness in US equity markets and concern about the state of the US economy overrode the impact of the weaker dollar. Copper lost $100 on the day to close at $8405, and reversed sharply from earlier gains that took it to an intraday high of $8600. There were losses in the rest of the group as well, with nickel’s $900/MT selloff being particularly noteworthy, coming as it did in spite of a declared force majeure on nickel deliveries from Colombia.....Markets are following Friday’s pattern again today, opening higher during Asian trading but starting to lose ground as the US markets gear up for trading. There is no major metals-specific news we can see apart form the weekend announcement that unionized workers at Colombia's Cerro Matoso ferronickel mine accepted a company offer to end their four-week strike Miners are expected to return back to work later today, and nickel prices, not surprisingly, are down slightly right now....Nickel is now at $29,950, down $550, as prices respond to news that the strike at the Cerro Matoso mine in Colombia is over. Charts suggests a slightly drift lower from here."
  • Canada - RBC Capital Markets forecasts a 13.2% rebound in nickel demand growth this year, along with an average price of $14 per pound. - more

  Strike ends at BHP's Cerro Matoso mine as workers accept offer

  • Striking miners at BHP Billiton's Cerro Matoso nickel mine in Colombia voted Sunday to accept an offer put forward by the company, putting an end to the month-long strike which saw production paralysed at the mine and smelter, the company said Monday. - more

  News Bites

  • Taiwan - Due to the nickel price fluctuation, Taiwan’s Yieh United Steel Corp. (Yusco) has announced to raise prices again in April. - more
  • China - It is reported that Chinese steel mills are worried about their iron ore inventories in coming weeks, as most of the steel mills and traders have been denied bank credit for issuing letter of credit for iron ore procurement. - more
  • China - Manufacturing activity in China, the world’s fastest-growing major economy, quickened in February as companies resumed production after the nation’s worst snowstorms in half a century. - more
  • Papua New Guinea - Australia's Highlands Pacific Limited said Monday that its joint venture partner, MCC Ramu NiCo Limited, would start large-scale construction at the Ramu Nickel Project in Papua New Guinea within 90 days.. - more
  • China - China's steel prices will continue to stay high this year, pushed up by booming demand and rising costs, say domestic industry experts. - more
  • China - The price of coke will continue to stay at a high level this year amid surging demand and rising cost, according to the China Coking Industry Association (CCIA). - more
  • Russia - Foreign investors will have their say in the $60 billion (£30.1 billion) battle for control of Norilsk Nickel today when they vote on who should control the board of the Russian mining company. - more
  • Top 10 - As per some unconfirmed sources, following are the top 10 steel makers in 2007 - more
  • Europe - Cheap imports do not pose a threat to the EU, Chinese manufacturers have insisted, as the Commission attempts to deal with an increasing number of requests to introduce punitive duties on Chinese products, allegedly dumped on EU markets at below-cost prices. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 126 tonnes = 49,866 tonnes (3.19% - 972 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 48,894 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 244000-246000 RMB/t, minus 4000   (charts)
Weekend Update, March 29, 30
  Unionized workers at Colombia's Cerro Matoso ferronickel mine voted on Sunday to accept a company offer and end a four-week strike that has hit global nickel prices, a labor union leader said. - more

  A reader sent us a Metals Week article from March 3rd that has statistics that do not agree with those we published earlier from Antaike thru a Rusmet article. According to the article, quoting China Stainless Steel Association figures, of the 7.206 million metric tonnes of stainless steel produced in China in 2007, 58.13% was chrome-nickel stainless (300 series), 25.52% chrome stainless (400 series), and 16.35% manganese-manganese stainless steel (200 series). If true, these numbers would reflect little change from 2006 statistics

  Unionized workers at Colombia's Cerro Matoso ferronickel mine will vote on Sunday on a company offer to end a four-week strike that has hit global nickel prices, a labor union leader said. - more

  Chart courtesy Commonwealth Research

  The dental industry has been warned that anyone found using illegal cut-price crowns and dentures imported from China faces jail, say the industry's watchdogs. - more

  Unidentified thieves stole metal parts from 44 cars parked at an Indianapolis company this week, police say. - more

  Concern about delays to some major global nickel projects has helped boost prices for the metal in early 2008. - more

  Allegheny Ludlum announces 6% price increase on stainless steel effective April 7th, with other price increases effective Monday - pdf notice here (thanks to a reader)

  Pinning down Marius Kloppers, CEO of BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, is no easy task. - more

  The government’s move to keep ever increasing inflation figures under check thereby asking iron ore miners to reduce raw material export is giving sleepless nights to the merchant miners in the country. - more

  India has withdrawn tax refund schemes for exports of steel and cement as domestic prices of both commodities are high and local supplies need to be increased, the trade secretary said on Friday. - more

  Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath today said his ministry would recommend scrapping of import duty on steel, whose rising prices have contributed to a surge in inflation rate. - more

  China media reports that South Africa is now negotiating with buyers for the second quarter high carbon ferrochrome prices at US$2/lb because European stainless mills have resumed their production....It said that European mills have unofficially agreed to a price of US$1.95/lb per pound while South African suppliers are demanding US$2.05/lb for high carbon ferrochrome, but such information has not been verified.

  The government will compel exporters to verify all mineral products before shipping them abroad. If earlier the mineral products to be verified only fall under the C category. In the future A and B categories of minerals must also undergo the same process. - more

  For commodities investors, reading the tea leaves of the Chinese economy has rarely been more difficult.- more

  Welded Stainless Steel Pressure Pipe From China  - more

  A job fair for companies that provide supply and service to the mining sector was held in the main foyer at Tom Davies Square today, from 9 am to 3 pm.- more

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

Friday, March 28
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $14.12/lb 3 month buyer - $14.28/lb (19.9% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 185 to 8,069 (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 768 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 48 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 24 tonnes from Singapore warehouse, minus 36 tonnes from Liverpool, England warehouse
  • Bloomberg today - "The dollar headed for the biggest weekly drop against the euro this month as traders increased bets the Federal Reserve will cut borrowing costs further while the European Central Bank holds rates steady." Metals should go up, right? Wrong. Across the board, precious and base metals were selling in the red today. With news that BHP had declared force majeure at its Cerro Matoso, Colombia nickel mine, nickel shot up in early trading. But this three day balloon ride was destined to run out of hot air sooner or later, and today was that day. We had our blindfolded monkey throw the dart at the "Reasons and Excuses Board" and today's explanation is....profit-taking. For the day and week, three month nickel ended at $13.81/lb ($30,450/tonne) One trading day left in the month, and quarter.
  • Closing Metals Report - more
  • As distributors of nickel laden stainless steel product, we would like to offer a photo to explain our feelings about this weeks "bull" market - here Have a safe and relaxing weekend!

  Reports

  • Damstahl Stainless Steel Report - March 2008 - pdf here
  • London Metal Exchange "The Ringsider" - here

  News Bites

  • Cuba - Rusmet is reporting Cuba will build a 174.6 megawatt power plant to supply electricity to the new Cuban/China MinMetals nickel project in the Camaguey province. Originally planned to produce 60,000 tonnes of nickel per year, it si estimated at tits completion, this mine will produce 45,000 tonne so ferro-nickel annually. (comment - we had heard last year a deal between MinMetals and the Cuban government to build a nickel mine in Holguin province was off and that Venezuela had taken over that partnership.)  
  • Colombia - BHP told customers last week that deliveries from the Cerro Matoso mine may be affected by the month-long strike by labour union workers. - more
  • South Africa - BHP Billiton Ltd., the world's biggest mining company, will cancel 2.4 billion rand ($300 million) of business with Standard Bank Group Ltd. because of remarks about its aluminum business made by a bank executive. - more
  • Analyst - Investment advisor John Tumazos said Thursday, that despite the 11% downturn in metal prices last week, "this is a very good time" for metals and "it's going to continue to be a good time." - more
  • Finland - Outokumpu Oyj rose in Helsinki trading on speculation ArcelorMittal wants to acquire the Finnish government's stake in the world's fourth-biggest stainless-steel maker, analysts and traders said. - more
  • England - Researchers at Southampton University have established that copper surfaces can inactivate the virulent hospital superbug Clostridium difficile. - more
  • Kitchen & Bath - In what we hope is the first of many Designer Roundtables, we asked several CKD’s and CBD’s this question: Though stainless steel is more popular than ever, today's trend is often tomorrow's passing fad. - more
  • Botswana - If you think SA power users are in trouble, spare a thought for Botswana. Almost entirely dependent on Eskom, it has been told that its power supplies will be cut by more than a third over the next four years. - more (home of Tati Nickel)

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.09/lb . All of the media reports we have posted show nickel way up earlier, which is true. At one point this morning three month nickel had jumped by around $700/tonne. It has since retreated sharply, but remains in the green, and appears to be heading back up as we post. BHP has declared force majeure and the knee jerk reaction was to take the price of nickel higher. Strike was a month old yesterday, and since its beginning, LME warehouse stocks have grown to their highest level this century. The last three days have seen some of the largest shipments inbound we have seen in a very long time. As of this morning, we are 8 tonnes short of the psychological 50,000/tonne barrier - in inventory, not in price.   
  • Reuters - more

  Reports

  • Commodity Online Daily Report - here

  Nickel Heads for Biggest Gain in 6 Months on BHP Supply Curb

  • Nickel headed for the biggest weekly gain in six months in London after BHP Billiton Ltd. declared force majeure on deliveries from its nickel mine in Colombia. Copper and aluminum also gained. - more

  Commodity Comments

  • Edward Meir MF Global - "LME metals finished up once again yesterday, but this was not due to dollar-related weakness. In fact, the greenback finished steady yesterday after final 4th quarter GDP figures and initial weekly claims readings out of the US both came in within expectations...nickel is now at $31,600, up $200, as prices respond to news that BHP Billiton declared force majeure on nickel deliveries from its Cerro Matoso mine in Colombia. The main dispute is over outside contractors, with the union opposing their use, while the company says they are necessary for short-term projects. The mine produces about 4% of the world’s nickel." SUPPORT: $27800 / RESISTANCE: $34000
  • Commentary: Selling commodities-trading unit raises a cautionary flag - (excerpt) "ConAgra is also looking at the kind of volatility that accompanies commodities trading when prices enter uncharted territory. When price swings get really wild, liquidity typically dries up as all but the most foolhardy speculators run to less risky investments. This throws the door wide open to what traders call the Roach Motel -- a market where soaring prices lure investors into big positions only to leave them trapped when prices turn south, unable to find counterparties willing to help them unwind those positions." - source
  • Nickel prices to fall following short term rally – Macquarie Bank
  • Courtesy Bloomberg - "Chinese stainless steelmakers will probably boost output by 23 percent this year to 9.1 million metric tons because of strong domestic demand and plant expansion, Macquarie Group Ltd.'s analyst Bonnie Liu said.....Most of the gain in nickel demand this year has been confined to Europe, Gayle Berry, an analyst at Barclays Capital, said today by phone. ``The U.S. and China are still pretty weak,'' resulting in higher stockpiles on the LME, she said."
  • Citigroup Commodity Heap report out titled "Fund Flow Fever"

  China's stainless steel output to reach 9 mln tons this year - official

  • China's stainless steel output is expected to grow by nearly 25 percent year-on-year to 9 million tons this year, a senior official from a major privately owned Chinese stainless steel mill told Interfax in Hong Kong today. - more

  News Bites

  • Delays to nickel mines around the world will force big industrial consumers like stainless steel makers to rely on low grade nickel pig iron for years. - more
  • "Zimbabwe's mining industry, with the world's second-biggest platinum and chrome reserves, should be booming amid record prices. Instead, production has fallen. Ferrochrome output alone has slumped by 15 percent since 2000." - more
  • Mining company BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) said Friday it has declared a force majeure at its Colombian Cerro Matoso nickel mine due to an ongoing strike. - more
  • Deripaska and Prokhorov holding companies trade claims over Norilsk Nickel deal contract.- more
  • BL reported that inadequate availability of electricity in South Africa, which has 80% of the world’s chrome ore reserves and accounts for 45% to 50% of the global market for ferrochrome, has provided Indian ferrochrome exporters with an opportunity to grab a larger share of the global market for ferrochrome. - more
  • Price Of Ferro-Chrome For Shipments In Q2 / 08 Is On Offense And Defense Of US$2 / Lb. - more
  • Price Of Domestic Ni-Based Stainless Steel Scrap Is Reduced From 21st March - more
  • BHP Billiton will need nearly half of South Australia's current electricity supply to power its vastly expanded Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 660 tonnes = 49,992 tonnes (2.00% - 1002 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 48,990 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 248000-250000 RMB/t, plus 3000  (charts)
Thursday, March 27
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $13.59/lb 3 month buyer - $13.69/lb (14.95% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 205 to 7,884. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 912 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 162 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 24 tonnes from Singapore warehouse, plys 24 tonnes into Gothenburg, Sweden warehouse
  • Marketwatch lead story this morning read "The U.S. economy downshifted abruptly in the fourth quarter, growing at a 0.6% annual rate, the slowest pace since late 2002...." This was about what was expected, and while the equity traders didn't like the confirmation of recessionary concerns, the dollar traded higher, because minimal growth is better than a negative reading. With the dollar trading higher, some of the precious metals were trading lower, but base metals bucked the trend, and all traded up. CNN gave credit to the rise in copper prices, with the others riding its coat-tails. This would be a good theory, except nickel's gain for the day was at a much higher percentile than any other base metal. Why? Who knows! In our opinion, nickel market trading is making very little sense this week, and is once again proving beyond suspicion, that fundamentals mean nothing these days, and the ups and downs are based strictly on speculation, backed by fund managers looking for a place to make some quick cash, or park their money as a safe haven from future inflationary news, that is sure to come. Three month nickel ended the days trading at $14.24/lb ($31,400/tonne) 
  • Closing Report - more
  • Mile high skyscraper? It's up for bid here

  China to import over 2 million mt of ferrochrome in 2008: Kermas

  • China will import more than 2 million mt of ferrochrome in 2008, marking an increase of a minimum of 650,000 mt from last year, Wan-wu Dong, director of marketing for Kermas China, said Thursday at the Metal Bulletin's 9th Asian Ferroalloys Conference in Hong Kong. - more 

  US stainless steel consumption figures for January 2008, and year end figures for 2007

  • From the report issued by the Specialty Steel Industry of North America today. Consumption of stainless steel sheet/strip - down 18.4% compared to same period in 2007. Stainless steel plate, down 57.5%. Stainless steel bar - down 24.2%. Stainless steel rod - down 24.5%. Stainless steel wire - down 19.4%. Total imports of stainless steel - down 14.5%.
  • From same report, annual consumption of stainless steel sheet/strip was down 17.% in 2007 compared to 2006. Stainless steel plate - down 6.7%. Stainless steel bar - down 2.5%. Stainless steel rod - down 10.5%. Stainless steel wire - down 5.9%.
  • Report - pdf here 

  Europe Stainless Steel Surcharges

  • 304 / Jan 08 - 1884-1916 / Feb 08 - 1696-1745 / March 08 - 1661-1734 / April 08 - 1743-1899
    316 / Jan 08 - 3055-3121 / Feb 08 - 3192-3284 / March 08 - 3158-3268 / April 08 - 3300-3444
    430 / Jan 08 - 280-311/ Feb 08 - 284-328 / March 08 - 339-375 / April 08 - 345-410 

  Colombia Cerro Matoso mine restarts talks-union

  • Labor talks restarted on Wednesday at Colombia's Cerro Matoso ferronickel mine, which produces 4 percent of the world's nickel, and could lead to a strike-ending deal in the days to come, the miners' union said. - more

  News Bites

  • United States - Stainless Steel Sheet and Strip in Coils from Taiwan; Partial Rescission of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review and Notice of Extension of Time Limits for Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review - more
  • Molybdenum - A deficiency of oxygen and the heavy metal molybdenum in the ancient deep ocean may have delayed the evolution of animal life on Earth by nearly two billion years, a study led by UC Riverside biogeochemists has found. - more
  • China - (highlights from article posted this morning) "High prices of iron ore are spurring Chinese stainless steel producers to increase purchases of nickel pig iron for which iron is a free byproduct, a senior executive at Tsingshan Holding Group said on Thursday. Tsingshan, China's top private stainless steel mill, used nickel pig iron and primary nickel to produce 600,000 tonnes of stainless steel last year without using iron ores or steel scrap, Xinfang Jiang told Reuters on the sidelines of Metal Bulletin's Asian Ferro-Alloys conference in Hong Kong.In the price of nickel pig iron, iron is free. That's why the use of nickel pig iron in China has risen," said Jiang, president of Shanghai Tsingshan Mineral Co. Ltd, a subsidiary of the group. "We do not have any technical problem, and I do not believe Taigang and Baosteel would have," he said.....He (Bonnie Liu, Macquarie Bank's China commodity research analyst) said the costs to process imported laterite ores into nickel pig iron containing 5-7 percent metal were at $8,000-9,000 per tonne in China."  (article)
  • India - The union government on Thursday decided to call a meeting of country’s iron ore producers next week to discuss problems faced by the sector. - more
  • MEPS - US mill transaction prices continue their positive trend. They are being driven by escalating input costs and higher energy and transport charges, rather than any improvement in real consumption. - more

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.18/lb Definition of speculation - "the engagement in business transactions involving considerable risk but offering the chance of large gains, especially trading in commodities, stocks, etc., in the hope of profit from changes in the market price." Nickel inventories added another 750 tonnes overnight. That is the most amount of nickel stored in London MEtal Exchange warehouses this year. Scratch that. Make that the most nickel stored in LME warehouse this century. And regardless of the media reports yesterday, except for the period following the collapse of Communist Russia, when nickel flooded the market, and miners couldn't pay customers to take it, the current inventory level is well ahead of 20th century average levels. So when the media claims that "speculation" that China is going to start buying nickel again soon, being the cause of what is driving the price of  nickel higher, look back thru the headlines we have posted, and notice how many times this form of speculation has caused nickel prices to jump over the past six months, and proved to be a hope without merit. Will China need more refined nickel in the coming months? Probably. If for no other reason, it will be due to the fact China doesn't want their Olympics smogged out, so a lot of smog producing plants in the area are being shut down 'temporarily' to clean up the air. Among these will most likely be some pig nickel refineries. Without the pig nickel, producers will be forced to import. We feel this is highly speculative, though, and a temporary situation at best. In the mean time, we wish the speculators would explain why nickel stored in LME warehouse's continue to grow?

  Reports

  • Stainless Steel Information Center (SSINA) Releases January Market Data - pdf here
  • (India) Karvy Comtrade Metals Insight - pdf here
  • Nickel Magazine (latest edition) - online here

  Nickel Rises for 3rd Day in London on China Demand Speculation

  • Nickel advanced for a third consecutive day in London on speculation demand from China, the world's largest user, will expand because of rising production of stainless steel.- more

  China nickel pig iron demand rises on iron ore hikes

  • High prices of iron ore are spurring Chinese stainless steel producers to increase purchases of nickel pig iron for which iron is a free byproduct, a senior executive at Tsingshan Holding Group said on Thursday. - more

  Commodity Comments

  • Edward Meir with MF Global - While commodities were shooting higher yesterday, the US stock market was heading south in a replay of the divergence we saw about two weeks ago. It remains to be seen if commodities are gearing up to retest the record highs largely at the expense of struggling stock and bond markets. Despite the impressive advances of the past few days, we are not sure we are quite there just yet. It seems commodities are being boosted by the weaker dollar, while ignoring the rapidly deteriorating US macro backdrop and the weak demand implications this will have on metals. We therefore are inclined to see this recent move higher in metals as a rally in a short-term downtrend that has yet to fully play out.....* Bloomberg reports that China’s Tsingshan Holding Group as saying that the country may increase demand for nickel after the government recently closed some operations producing substitute pig-iron. There was no mention as to which smelter was shut down or how much production was sidelined.

  News Bites

  • United States - Specialty metals maker Allegheny Technologies Inc. paid L. Patrick Hassey, its chairman, president and chief executive, about $25.2 million in 2007, as company profit rose some 30 percent. - more (that's a cool $69,041 a day for 365 days)
  • United States - As US steel prices soar to record heights despite slowness in the US economy, Citigroup is raising its steel price forecasts for 2008 while predicting margin expansion at US mills but warning of the potential for dropping prices later in the year. - more
  • New Caledonia - The head of New Caledonia’s Goro Nickel company, Phil du Toit, says if the planned waste pipe cannot be used the nickel plant won’t be able to operate. - more
  • Colombia - The 29-day strike at Colombia's Cerro Matoso metallurgical complex has generated partial losses of 140bn pesos (US$76.6mn), Roger Herrera, president of the Sintracerromatoso union, told BNamericas. - more
  • China - China, the world's biggest producer of stainless steel, will probably increase output by 23 percent this year because of strong domestic demand and plants expansion, an analyst at Macquarie Group Ltd. said. - more
  • Russia - When T.S. Eliot was summing up what he knew of hollow men, he concluded: “this is the way the world ends/not with a bang but a whimper”. This is also the way Russia’s biggest-ever hostile takeover, Oleg Deripaska’s bid to take control of Norilsk Nickel, is ending. - more
  • China - It is reported that an official ceremony marking the launch of Shandong Iron & Steel Group was held on March 26th 2008, celebrating the successful merger of between Laiwu Iron & Steel and Jinan Iron & Steel. - more
  • Japan - Nippon Steel & Sumikin Stainless Steel notified the distributors concerned to reduce from the 21st of March the price of nickel-based stainless steel scrap ( new clippings ) to be purchased by them from domestic sources by Yen 30,000 per metric ton. - more
  • India - India's chrome ore exports are likely to rise 10% in the next financial year starting April despite an export duty hike of INR1,000 a metric ton on the ore, the Business Standard newspaper reported Wednesday.

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 750 tonnes = 49,332 tonnes (2.16% - 1068 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 48,264 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 244500-247500 RMB/t, minus 250   (charts)
Wednesday, March 26
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $13.17/lb 3 month buyer - $13.31/lb (11.75% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 60 to 7,679. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 1128 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 132 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 18 tonnes from Busan, South Korea warehouse, minus 18 tonnes from Baltimore, MD, USA warehouse
  • US Dollar slumped again today, which boosted base and precious metal prices, all apparently still in recovery mode from last week's correction. Durable goods took a larger hit than expected, and new home sales fall to 13 year low, which put the attention back on recessionary concerns for equity markets. Tomorrow, the GDP and unemployment numbers will be released, which if "not as bad as expected", will probably turnaround today's negative reaction.  Friday's consumer confidence and personal income outlay reports might possibly put inflation back in the news. Nickel saw its prices up and down as traders played tug-of-war with the market.  Trading within a $600/tonne range, nickel slipped into the red on three occasions, and into the green for four. So, with LME nickel inventories at their highest levels in years, on the back of a strike which has erased 3-4% of the world's supply off the plate, an increase in the proportion of 200 series stainless being manufactured in China from the mid teens to the mid 20 percentile range, three month nickel ended at  $13.51/lb ($29,775/tonne). Believe it or not.    
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Reports

  • Standard Bank: Weekly Commodity Research - pdf here
  • Interesting graph showing the increase in metal prices in foreign currencies - here

  China Baosteel net down on stainless steel slump

  • Baoshan Iron and Steel Co., China's top steel maker, reported on Wednesday an unexpected fall in 2007 net profit, blaming weakness in the stainless steel market following a plunge in nickel prices. - more

  Commodity Comments

  • Copyright/courtesy Scotia Capital China Update - " In the first two months of 2008, China imported 25,769 tonnes of refined nickel, up 18.1% YOY. In the same period, China’s exports of refined nickel declined to only 884 tonnes, down 81.1% YOY. We observe that the disruption in domestic production caused by the snowstorm was partially behind the surge in refined nickel imports, as well as the shortage of coke, which curbs the output of nickel pig iron using low-grade nickel ore. China’s nickel ore imports were 1.235 million tonnes and 1.039 million tonnes in January and February respectively. We note that China’s ore imports had been stabilizing in the range of 1 million to 1.2 million tonnes for six consecutive months, after peaking in July 2007 (2.278 million tonnes) and August 2007 (1.731 million tonnes)."

  News Bites

  • China - Platts cited official from Beijing Antaike, the state run non ferrous metals information provider, as saying that China's nickel output is expected to reach 250,000 tonnes in 2008 up by 17% from 214,000 tonnes in 2007. - more
  • Russia - Mechel, the Russian steel and coal firm controlled by billionaire Igor Zyuzin, has agreed to pay $1.5 billion for ferro-chrome producer Oriel Resources and increase access to valuable raw materials. - more
  • China - China's output of the 10 major nonferrous metals in 2007 rose by 23.44% to hit 23.61 million tonnes in 2007, making it the largest producer of nonferrous metals in the world for the sixth consecutive year, the China Nonferrous Metal Industry Association (CNMIA) said Wednesday. - more
  • Colombia - An ongoing strike at BHP Billiton's (BHP) Colombian nickel mine has cost the Australian mining company 145 billion Colombian pesos ($79.2 million) in revenue, a union leader said Wednesday. - more

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.07/lb . Considering the nickel market is still reportedly running in a small deficit situation, and many analysts continue to hope inventories start sliding 'anytime' now, and that a nickel mine producing 3-4% of the world's nickel has been shut down for nearly a month, it is quite surprising that we see the LME inventory of nickel jump up by nearly 1000 tonnes overnight. That takes the total to the highest it has been this year.... and for that matter, the highest it has been in years!! For those of you who buy nickel out there, that might have someone from the nickel industry "dare" tell you the price of nickel is supported by market fundamentals, tell them to go waste someone else's time. Supply/demand means very little these days, unless we are talking about the supply of fund money and the demand on their managers to produce a profit.
  • Bloomberg - more
  • Special hat tip to Fed Ex driver Jay McMullin who is shown helping 78-year-old Odell Bunch to safety - video here (story)

  Reports

  • Rand Merchant Bank Weekly Base Metal Report - pdf here
  • Canada Commodity Price Update - pdf here
  • Steel Founders' Society of America Casteel Reporter - March 2008 - pdf here

  Commodity Comments

  • The Barker Letter - (excerpt) "People want to know where metals prices are headed. I don’t know. In days of yore, copper and zinc and nickel went down at the start of a recession as order books stagnated and inventories built up. Then at the depth of it, the prices would rebound on renewed demand. The problem now is there are so many hedge funds and speculators involved in bidding commodities up and down that their pricing no long reflects the relative position of the business cycle." - source
  • Morning Briefing from Edward Meir MF Global - "This morning, the LME complex is up once again, as another stock draw in copper, firmer energy prices, and a weaker dollar continue to support the markets. Metals were also buoyed by a positive German corporate sentiment index, which unexpectedly rose in March to its highest level in seven months despite a stronger euro and firm oil prices. Separate data showed business morale rising in France as well, although in Italy, sentiment fell to its lowest level in 31 months.....With respect to the short-term outlook in metals, we still are not sure that last week’s commodity correction has fully run its course despite the recent blips higher. We are a bit wary of buying the dips based on a weaker dollar, as we would not be surprised to see central banks intervene if the dollar starts to slide again.... Nickel is now at $29,900, up $350, and stalling a bit here after yesterday's decent showing; prices continue to remain confined to a sideways trading range.
  • (excerpt) Arturo Rodriguez is a co-founder of Juno Mother Earth Asset Management - "The weak U.S. dollar should help extend the bullish story line for commodities in general, along with demand from developing economies, Rodriguez said. India and China, in particular, are "two huge markets for consumption," he said. "Being countries that have almost no infrastructure, they have strained their capacity to produce almost everything from food to iron and nickel," he said." - more
  • As speculators and investors attract blame for driving up commodity costs, new research shows demand from industrial users has spurred a price boom in a range of metals. - more

  South Africa's ferrochrome price negotiation still in talks

  • South Africa is now negotiating with buyers for the second quarter high-carbon ferrochrome prices at US$2 per pound because European stainless mills have resumed their production. - more

  Colombia Cerro Matoso mine to restart talks-union

  • Labor talks will restart on Wednesday at Colombia's Cerro Matoso ferronickel mine, which produces 4 percent of the world's nickel, the union representing the miners said on Tuesday. - more

  News Bites

  • Brazil - Brazilian miner Vale and Switzerland's Xstrata Plc said late Tuesday that they have ended merger discussions that would have created the world's largest mining company. - more
  • New Caledonia - The owner of Goro Nickel breaks silence - translated article here
  • United States - (Courtesy AISI) "In the week ending March 22, 2008, domestic raw steel production was 2,118,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 88.8 percent. Production was 2,073,000 tons in the week ending March 22, 2007, while the capability utilization then was 86.3 percent. The current week production represents a 2.1 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending March 22, 2008 is up 1.5 percent from the previous week ending March 15, 2008 when production was 2,086,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 87.5 percent."
  • United States - The Specialty Steel Industry of North America ("SSINA") has released the first statistical data on imports, U.S. consumption, and import penetration for 2008. - more
  • India - Higher prices, better realisations may boost overseas sales by 10%. Despite an export duty hike of Rs 1,000 per tonne of chrome ore this budget, the industry estimates a 10 per cent rise in exports as the margins are still better than domestic sales. - more
  • Indonesia - PT International Nickel Indonesia, or Inco, expects its nickel output to rise to 77,000-79,000 metric tons in 2008, exceeding its previous record of 76,675 tons set last year, a senior company official said Wednesday. - more
  • India - After an intense battle with the government on rising prices, steel makers on Tuesday called truce by agreeing to stop exports, forego DEPB benefits and supported reducing import duty on the alloy. - more  another
  • South Korea - According to steel magazine Metal Bulletin on March 26, POSCO produced 32,800,000 tons of steel during the one year period last year and ranked 4th in the world after ArcelorMittal, Nippon Steel Corp. and JFE. - more
  • Russia - Russian billionaires Mikhail Prokhorov and Vladimir Potanin have both bid for the 1% stake in OAO Polyus Gold being sold by OAO Norilsk Nickel, the Vedomosti business daily reported Wednesday. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 960 tonnes = 48,582 tonnes (1.49% - 726 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 47,856 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 245500-247000 RMB/t, plus 2250  (charts)
Tuesday, March 25 (Olympic torch lit in Athens yesterday - 130 day, 82,200 mile journey ahead)
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $13.45/lb 3 month buyer - $13.49/lb (13.27% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 65 to 7,619. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - minus 180-tonnes from Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, no inbound shipments recorded
  • US consumer confidence came in lower than expected today, which helped boost the dollar. The graphs show metals were all trading in the green today. On the back of initial market enthusiasm, a report by RBC, that stated nickel inventories should fall this year, helped the trading price of nickel recover sharply from Thursday's slump. LCH.Clearnet raised its initial margins on all LME traded base metals again, and on nickel, the margin will increase from $18,000 per lot to $20,412 per lot (more below) on April 1st. Announced late, this news could add a chill to the market tomorrow, but we don't expect to see this bring about any major swing. At this point, we aren't sure any news is going to put any lasting damper on nickel prices. For the day, three month nickel ended at  $13.38/lb ($29,500/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - here

  Reports

  • TD Bank Weekly Commodity Price Report - pdf here

  Metals up 3 percent on firm equities

  • (excerpt) "There is a direct link between stock markets and metal prices," Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said. - more

  Report: Some Base Metals Prices to Fall

  • Prices for a number of base metals will decline, according to an RBC Capital Markets analysis released Tuesday, though aluminum prices are expected to continue climbing through 2010. - more

  Purchasing Agents - Possible Delivery Delay?

  • There is a lot of talk going around about a one day truck shutdown by independents to protest the high price of fuel. Initially planned by a small cattle trucking firm in Missouri for April 1st, and written about in the Drudge Report, the planned protest has quickly become a national movement, of sorts. Not sure what affect this may have on any shipments, as this is primarily being planned by independents, but be advised there is a lot of talk.

  Commodity Comments

  • Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "The global nickel market is seen staying roughly balanced in '08 with inventories essentially unchanged for the year as a whole, says RBC Capital Markets. This follows a deficit of 39,000 metric tons in '06 and then a surplus of over 100,000 tons in '07 on the back of the stainless steel destocking cycle. Nickel inventories will decline in 2Q '08 as stainless production finally rebounds."
  • Courtesy MF Global Ed Meir - "Nickel is now at $29,600, up $1050, as prices recoup most of Thursday’s losses. Nonetheless, the price action over the past few days has done little to change the technical picture, which still consists mainly of a sideways drift. Support is just below $28,000, with major resistance at $34,000."

  News Bites

  • London - LCH.Clearnet Ltd has, after consultation with LME, decided to change the London SPAN margin parameters for the contracts marked in bold and italic on the attached document. These changes will be made effective from the close of business on Thursday 27 March 2008 and will be reflected in margin calls on Friday 28 March 2008. - more
  • China - In a recent report, quoted by Rusmet, Antaike estimates the production of stainless steel in China in 2007 at 48.2% for 300 series stainless steel, 25.9% for 400 series stainless steel, and 25.9% for 200 series stainless steel. If true, this is a large increase in 200 series production from earlier estimates.
  • Colombia - Media is reporting that a union leader for the National Union of the Workers of the Industry of Coal, Adolph Gonzalez Mounts, was assassinated by unknown parties last Saturday. SINTRACARBON, as the union is called, represents workers at the Cerrejon Coal Mine. The Cerrejon coal complex in northern Colombia, owned by BHP Billiton, Anglo-American and Glencore/Xstrata is the largest open-pit coal mine in the world. (comment - we have no other knowledge of this situation other than what we are reading, mostly reported by union media, but we can say union leadership in certain countries of South and Central America, can be a very dangerous occupation)
  • China - While many Chinese entrepreneurs look to top foreign companies for guidance, Huang Tianwen couldn't find the right business on which to model his company. - more
  • Canada - High-School Mining Education in Sudbury - Sofia Gallagher - more
  • India - The Corrosion Resistant Delhi Iron Pillar (a 1600 year old iron pillar that won't corrode) - more

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.39/lb . Guardian's headline "Dollar resumes fall on US economic worries". Base and precious metals are all trading in the green today, as metals investors dismiss the idea of a commodity bubble burst, and turn last weeks tumble into a short-lived, albeit abrupt, correction. Nickel has recently backed off a nearly $1500/tonne earlier gain, but is showing no signs of returning to a corrective mode....yet.   
  • Bloomberg - more
  • Globe and Mail - more
  • FX Street - more

  Reports

  • Behre Dolbear Global Mining News - pdf here
  • Reuters Metal Market Weekly - pdf here
  • (India) Karvy Comtrade Metals Insight - pdf here
  • Article - (India) Iron ore : The Magnet of Industrial prosperity - pdf here  
  • Article - (India) India Iron Ore :An Overview - pdf here

  Commodity Comments

  • Correction in commodities likely to be shortlived - more
  • Commodity `Bubble' Poised to Burst, Citigroup's Levkovich Says - more
  • courtesy Wall Street Journal - "Bulls argue that demand from rapidly developing countries like China and India justifies the high prices. But in reality, commodities have become the last refuge for speculators as other bubbles have popped."

  News Bites

  • Japan - Japan’s Nippon Steel & Sumikin Stainless Steel (NSSC) is set to implement a new chrome-base surcharge for stainless steel on the ground of recent surging chrome prices. - more
  • China - China's crude steel production for February increased 7% year on year to 38.88 million mt, according to latest figures from the National Bureau of Statistics of China. - more
  • Japan - Japan's production of crude steel in February rose 6.5% year on year to 9.809 million mt, the Japan Iron and Steel Federation said last week. - more
  • Brazil - Brazil's mining giant Vale is looking for co-investors from Asia and the Middle East to expand and diversify its operations abroad, the company's financial director, Fabio Barbosa said on Monday. - more
  • South Korea - courtesy Ria Novosti - "Russia's Finance Ministry has proposed that the country's $1.3 billion Soviet-era debt to South Korea be paid off ahead of schedule, a government source said on Monday. "Under the current agreement, the debt is to be repaid by 2025. It is being proposed that the debt be paid off with commodity deliveries by 2012, or in cash," he said, adding that in the second case the debt could be repaid this year or next."
  • Congo - " The saga of the review of mining contracts being carried out by the DRC (the Democratic Republic of Congo) took a new turn last week as the country’s government released the full text of the review, in French only, on its website." - more
  • England - Mechel, the Russian metals and mining group, plans to float a $5bn (£2.5bn) ferro-alloys spin-off next year, if it is successful with its bid for Oriel Resources, a smaller, UK-based rival. - more
  • South Africa - "Nearly 20,000 South Africans have been displaced by mining giant Anglo American in its search for platinum, a BBC File on 4 investigation has found." - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange -  minus 180 tonnes = 47,622 tonnes (1.32% - 630 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,992 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 243000-245000 RMB/t, plus 500  (charts)
Monday, March 24 (LME markets are closed today for Easter)
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • A Reuters headline this morning read "Dollar rises vs euro, yen on US housing data". This could potentially put additional downward pressure on LME traded metals tomorrow, although gold was selling higher today. Nickel was down in Japan, down in India, and flat in Shanghai overnight. Equity markets were up, which could be good for you if your invested in a mining company stock. From the base metal standpoint, this optimism could see some of that fund money that has poured into commodities recently, transferred into other markets.

  Talks at Colombia's ferronickel mine stalled-union

  • Labor talks at Colombia's Cerro Matoso ferronickel mine, which produces 4 percent of the world's nickel, were stalled on Monday as a strike by workers stretched into its 26th day, a union official said. - more (update)

  Reports

  • Germany - recently released figures by the German Federal Statistics estimate stainless steel production in that country will slip by 16% in 2007, compared to 2006 figures (1.33 million tons compared to 1.6 million tons in 2206). Based on the first 11 months, German stainless steel production is approximately 69% austenitic, and 31% ferritic. Thru November, austenitic production was running at 917 thousand tons, compared to 987 in 2006, and production of ferritic totalled 407 thousand tons, compared to 433 in 2006. According to Focus Rostfree, a German metals publication, production of stainless steel recovered strongly in the last quarter of 2007, and more than doubled production figures of the 3rd quarter.
  • Nickel Projects - (status on some of the larger projects)
    Australia - Ravensthorpe (L) is scheduled to begin production this quarter, with an annual production capacity of 50,000 tonnes of nickel per year
    Turkey - Caldag (L) is scheduled to begin production later this year, with an annual production capacity of 20,400 tonnes of nickel per year
    New Caledonia - Goro (L) is scheduled to begin production later this year, with an annual production capacity of 60,000 tonnes of nickel per year 
    Brazil - Onca Puma (L) is scheduled to begin production in January 2009, with an annual production capacity of 52,000 tonnes of nickel per year
    Botswana - Activox (L) is scheduled to begin production in 2009, with an annual production capacity of 23,000 tonnes of nickel per year
    Papua New Guinea - (L) Ramu is scheduled to begin production in 2009/10, with an annual production capacity of 33,000 tonnes of nickel per year
    Brazil - Barro Alto (L) is scheduled to begin production in 2010, with an annual production capacity of 36,000 tonnes of nickel per year
    (for reference, the last true 'mega' mine that was opened was Voisey's Bay (S), in 2006)

  News Bites

  • Forecast - (excerpt) "Mr. (Jim) Rogers is a long-term bull on commodities, which have recently been hit by a wave of selling pressure, and he reiterated his enthusiasm for them, though he says he wouldn't be a buyer now because they could be subjected to further weakness from forced hedge fund liquidations. " - more

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

  • The London Metal Exchange is closed today for Easter holiday. After a week of mayhem in metals, and commodities in general, this week has started off quietly, with most markets in cruise control, waiting for the American markets to open. Dollar is slightly higher, with oil slightly lower.

  Reports

  • Haywood Metals & Mining - pdf here
  • TD Bank Quarterly Commodity Price Report - pdf here
  • (India) Karvy Comtrade Metals Insight - pdf here

  China's 2008 nickel output expected to rise 17% on year: Antaike

  • China's nickel output is expected to reach 250,000 mt in 2008, up 17% from 214,000 mt in 2007, an official from Beijing Antaike, the state-run non-ferrous metals information provider said Monday. - more

  Commodity Comments

  • China - Shanghai Nonferrous Metals weekly poll of Chinese metal analysts - of 34 analysts responding to this weeks poll, 10 (29%) expected the price to rise, 11 (32%) felt the price would stay about the same, and the remaining 13 (38%) expected the price of nickel to fall in Shanghai this week.
  • Copyright/courtesy Recycling International - "Rotterdam prices for 304 stainless steel scrap have increased to USS 2650 per tonne, while 316 scrap has been stable at USS 4050. Ferritic 430 scrap (17% chromium) has advanced to USS 450 per tonne while 409 scrap (13% chromium) has improved to USS 400."

  News Bites

  • China - The following are tables of import and export data for copper, nickel, aluminum, alumina, bauxite, lead, zinc, tin, and antimony as well as the leading importing and exporting countries from January to February. - more
  • Russia - The chief executive of Russian nickel producer OAO Norilsk Nickel (GMKN.RS) Denis Morozov has criticized, in an interview with business daily Kommersant published Monday, aluminum giant United Co. Rusal's handling of its move to take over Norilsk. - more
  • United States - The antidumping case has blocked the import of stainless pipe and tube from China to the US, and the prices of stainless pipe and tube are expected to rise again in the future. - more
  • China - At a time when China could prove an ally in Rio Tinto's effort to stave off BHP Billiton's takeover, the mining giant's boss, Tom Albanese, has signalled he wants to pursue more joint ventures with Chinese companies. - more
  • China - Declining export growth, notably affected by the U.S. credit crunch, is likely to drag China's GDP growth down to 10.5 percent this year, still above official target of 8 percent, a leading university research paper said on Monday. - more
  • China - Xinhua cited Mr Wen Jiabao Premier of Japan as saying that the year 2008 may be the most difficult year for Chinese economy, largely due to growing uncertainties both inside and outside the country. - more
  • South Korea - A South Korean consortium, including companies such as Daewoo International Corp (047050.KS: Quote, Profile, Research), won a $184 million project to develop a nickel mine in Madagascar, Korea Resources Corp said on Sunday.

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - closed for Easter holiday (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 242000-245000 RMB/t, plus/minus 0   (charts)
Weekend Updates, March 22 & 23

  Mining giant BHP Billiton has joined Rio Tinto in talking tough on seeking higher iron ore prices as China seeks to put pressure on the Australians to cave in by delaying some high-priced Australian spot sales into the country. - more  (comment - BHP and Rio may want to send their key people to see Dale Carnegie)

  Vale, the Brazilian mining group, is building technical schools in Brazil and placing recruitment advertisements overseas, in a further sign of the scarcity of geologists and engineers among the world's miners in recent years as rising commodity prices have driven growth in the sector. - more

  It is reported that on March 20th 2008 many coal companies were willing to raise coal prices and Shanxi Lu’an Group, Yangquan Coal Industry Group, Datong Coal Mine Group and Shanxi Coking Coal Group and some coal mines have already requested coal price to rise up by CNY 30 per tonne to CNY 50 per tonne. - more

  We may never know for sure whether the Federal Reserve's rescue of Bear Stearns averted a seizure of the $516 trillion derivatives system, the ultimate Chernobyl for global finance. - more

  Looking at the mergers and acquisitions in the resources sector, it's easy to forget there is a global credit crunch. - more

  There are plans to develop a molybdenum mine near Crested Butte. But is one of the partners in that venture about to pull the plug? That’s the conjecture of John A. Kaiser, an analyst who tracks high-risk Canadian securities in his review of Kobex Resources, a firm based in Vancouver, B.C. - more (story 1/2 way down page)

  It is reported that Baoshan Iron & Steel has signed long term ferrochrome purchase contract with Sinochem Hebei recently which would boost their cooperation in reliable FeCr supply and build up strategic partnership. - more

  Financial world's woes are spilling over to Main Street, and threatening Canada - more

  China is likely to impose further controls on steel exports if they rebound, which will result in a decline in Chinese steel exports over the whole year, a senior industrial official told Interfax in Beijing yesterday. - more

  Despite this week's decline in some benchmark metal price indexes, analysts say underlying fundamentals will keep pushing up the prices of many metals, ..... - more

  The Canadian mining sector must look at solutions including consolidation, better use of technology and more creative recruitment strategies in order to keep pace with unprecedented world demand for its minerals and metals, says the CEO of a multinational mining and resources group - more

  The State Duma, the Russian parliament's lower house, approved Friday the second reading of a bill seeking to restrict foreign investment in strategic industries. - more

  Rio Tinto, fighting a takeover bid by rival Anglo-Australian miner BHP Billiton, would like to work with Chinese state firms to develop mining projects around the world, Chief Executive Tom Albanese said on Saturday. - more

  Rozhetskin was previously executive vice chairman of Norilsk Nickel, Russia’s largest mining company and his investment company LV Finance used to own a quarter of Russia’s third largest mobile operator MegaFon. - more

  National Mining Association Mining Week - pdf here

Friday, March 21
  Video's for the weekend
  • Clarke and Dawe: the comic duo you can bank on - here
  • Whether you like him or not, a memorable speech - Obama's complete speech here
  • Movies, tv shows and documentaries online - here
  • Journeyman Pictures Video's Online - here

  Commodities Drop, Rally in Dollar, Stocks Vindicate Bernanke

  • The biggest commodity collapse in at least five decades may signal Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has revived confidence in U.S. financial firms. - more  (comment - before you pop the champagne, read this here. The weight enhanced lady has yet to sing)

  Commodities retreat, punished by cash raising

  • Commodities from energy to metals to grains took another steep drop Thursday after a reassessment of the world's growth and inflation prospects triggered a widespread cash-out, raising this question: Is the rally over? - more

  News Bites

  • China - "China is likely to sell 27 percent less steel abroad this year, largely due to the government's efforts to curb its exports, an industry group said on Thursday." - more
  • South Korea - "POSCO, the world's fourth-largest steel maker, will likely raise its steel product prices by at least 17 percent in April, a local newspaper quoted an unnamed POSCO official as saying on Friday." - more
  • New Caledonia - "Official figures show nickel ore production on New Caledonia slipped from 498 tonnes in January 2007, to 465 tonnes in January 2008. Exports of nickel ore increased 185 tonnes in January 2007, to 391 tonnes this past January. Exports of saprolite ore increased from 131 tonnes to 225 tonnes, while exports of laterite ore more than tripled, from 54 tonnes last January, to 167 tonnes this January."
  • Investors - "I don’t want to add to the panic, but one thing that is getting little in the way of attention here is the question of whether investors should have investments in their name or street name." - more and another (courtesy IV forum)

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

  • London Metal Exchange is closed till Tuesday, March 25th. My, my what a few days makes. Last week analysts were screaming buy as many commodities as you could, and now the headline could read "Nickel in Pickle, Gold is Old, Lead is Dead, Copper's a Flopper, No Win with Tin, Zinc Stinks, Oil Spoils, Wheat Gets Beat, and Nothing Rhymes with Aluminum, etc, etc, etc". We would strongly advice writers and pontificators who are proclaiming the commodities "bubble" has burst, to look back over the past year, and review prior 'bursts' closely. With most of the reports coming out next week will give us a better picture of the recession, and not too much in the way of inflationary reports, we could see the downward shift continue at least another week. But we feel there is a better than 50-50 chance that this will turn out to be no more than a minor price correction.

  Reports

  • BMO Capital Markets "The Goods" - pdf here

  Commodity Comments

  • Comment - "The only thing more irritating to users than rising nickel prices, are diving nickel prices. It is exasperating to those who must buy their nickel in advance, by the tonne, and then watch it slowly lose value every day it sits in transit, whether on a boat, or a train. Downstream users must juggle their purchasing decisions and are frustrated by the fact that business has become less a pursuit of forecasts, and more a spin of the wheel. When prices are stabile, or even on a gradual increase or decline, the supply chain plays on an even keel. In days like these, it is the smartest, quickest, leanest, most proactive, that will win in the game of business. When prices are on the dive, business becomes less tactical, and more of a flip of a coin, a hope and a prayer. Will nickel drop more tomorrow, or has it bottomed? Will the inventory we have on hand, which lost value today, re-coup or lose more tomorrow? How long can we guarantee a stainless steel quote to the customer... months, days, or hours? Metals traders may want to remember last year. Last summer proved, that nickel in freefall, is the quickest way to dry up stainless steel demand."  
  • Dow Jones - "Broad-based fund liquidation is sending commodity prices into freefall Thursday, wiping the speculative froth out of the markets and leading some industry participants to say it's the beginning of the end for the investment-fueled bull run." - more

  Baosteel raises steel product prices for May 2008

  • Baosteel has announced its price change details for May productions, with prices of HRC and CRC raised by CNY 300 per tonne and CNY 400 per tonne respectively a hike of 6% and 7% from April prices unveiled on February 25th 2008. - more

  News Bites

  • China - (courtesy IATS) "In 2007, Jinchuan produced 110 thousand tons of nickel, and this year forecast that level to reach 120 thousand tons. It is reported that over the next three to five years, the company intends to continue the reconstruction of production facilities and bring production up to 150 thousand tonnes of nickel per year. 50% of raw materials needed to produce nickel, the company has to import."
  • 2008 Union Labor Contracts - (courtesy Reuters) Union contracts expiring in 2008 at nickel facilities, not including those passed -
    June 1, 2008 - Nikkelverk Nickel Refinery in Norway - Xstrata
    Sept 15, 2008 - Thompson Nickel Mine, Smelter, Refinery in Canada - Vale
    Nov 30, 2008 - Falcondo Nickel Mine in Dominican Republic - Xstrata
  • China - "China does not set limits on spot iron ore import, although a copy of iron ore import contract is required for entering in the records, according to Luo Bingsheng, executive vice chairman of China Iron and Steel Association (CISA)." - more
  • USA - "Russia's OAO Severstal Friday said it would become the fourth-largest steel maker in the U.S. after agreeing to buy ArcelorMittal's Sparrows Point production facility for $810 million." - more
  • India - "India on Thursday introduced in parliament a new mining policy it hopes will lure foreign and domestic investment, but the document made no mention of changes to royalty payments demanded by mineral-rich states." - more
  • Japan - Market Tendency On Imports Of Ferro-Alloys At 14th March 2008 - more
  •   Jinchang - Nickel Capital of China (Google Map)
    The history of the Jinchuan Nickel Mine - poorly translated here  original Chinese here

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - closed   (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 242000-245000 RMB/t, minus 6000   (charts)
Thursday, March 20 (LME markets are closed Friday and next Monday.)
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $12.83/lb 3 month buyer - $12.92/lb (8.48% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 117 to 7,684. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 276 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 42 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse
  • Here is a headline that will make nickel buyers roll their eyes - "Commodity prices part speculative - IMF". Having watched this market closely for years, our first reaction was "YOU THINK!!!". Traders were in a pessimistic mood today, with commodities across the board in a corrective mode. You have to get a kick out of these analysts that say inflationary concerns are lessening when oil, which was selling for $60/barrel last year, "plummets" from $110 to $100 a barrel. We have not heard the last of inflation. Which means we have not heard the last of money pouring into commodities as a protection 'from' inflation. With LME markets closed tomorrow and Monday, it will be interesting to see how the market reacts on Tuesday. More correction in store? Or have we reached the valley with more hills ahead? Stay tuned. The next potential news to give nickel a bump down, based on fundamentals, will be any news that the Cerro Matoso nickel strike has ended. However, considering inventories have increased over the last three days, traders may have already figured this into the trading price. For the day and trading week, three month nickel ended at $12.95/lb ($28,550/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more
  • For those who will be on Good Friday break tomorrow, we wish you a very nice weekend!

  Commodities crater on inflation outlook, economy
                 Fed's warning on inflation, renewed economic fears take steam out of rally

  • Prices in commodities took a dive Wednesday, one day after the Federal Reserve highlighted its inflation concerns as it cut rates and indirectly took away some of the fizz from the recent commodity rally. - more

  Sumitomo Metal to Raise Stainless Product Price

  • Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd announced March 18, 2008, that it has begun negotiations to revise its pricing for every stainless product for clients in Japan. The company is seeking to raise the base prices 10%, targeting stainless thin plate, thick plate and shaped steel products. - more

  News Bites

  • Australia - Rio Tinto Ltd/Plc, locked in tense iron ore price negotiations with Asian steel mills, said a sharp rise in iron pellet prices achieved by rival Vale "would not go unnoticed." - more
  • China - A SENIOR Chinese steel official has blasted Australian mining giant Rio Tinto for being "dishonest" and "improper", as their row over billions of dollars of iron ore shipments edges closer to a trade war. - more
  • Commentary - THE sharemarket's latest dip underlines how hard it is to pick the bottom of a bear market, and introduces something new to fret about: the possibility that Australia's resources sector is also beating a retreat. - more
  • Commentary - The two commodities which are the principal material pillars of the world economy and vital to its functioning are iron ore and oil. Iron ore is principally used in the production of a variety of steels and unlike oil, whose price is benefiting from production arguably having peaked, iron ore resources will last well into the 22nd century. - more
  • Medical - Chromium is OK when it's on your car bumper but not so OK when it's in your workplace air or your drinking water. That's because chromium, in some of its forms, causes cancer. - more
  • Dow Jones - Top base metal stories of the day - more

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.34/lb . Yesterday's chart implied we could see the price of nickel heading for $12.60/lb, and apparently traders noticed. Hasn't made it there yet, but came very close earlier this morning. Dollar is up, four day weekend ahead for metals traders, and a commodity correction in place. Nickel buyers should enjoy it while it lasts, because as soon as someone yells inflation again, we will most likely see everyone reaching for their commodity security blanket again. Rotterdam received its third large shipment of nickel in as many days, and with the Cerro Matoso strike in its 22nd day, the ability of LME warehouses to 'increase' their stock during this major supply disruption, casts a doubting eye on those who say the supply/demand balance is in deficit.
  • Bloomberg - more
  • Dow Jones - more
  • Financial Times - more
  • FX Street - more

  Commodity Comments

  • Edward Meir - MF Global - "We are sharply lower in a wide variety of commodities following yesterday’s equally vicious selloff, but we cannot say we are surprised by what is going on. For many weeks now, participants have been rushing headlong into commodities, a sector perceived to be a “safe haven” amidst the carnage seen in the equity and secondary bond markets. Commodities were also widely touted as “weak dollar” play and an inflation hedge to boot. Little attention was paid to the fact that the sector been historically sensitive to growth prospects, particularly from the US, which for all the talk about Chinese demand, still remains the ultimate end-consumer for many of the commodities in question. ....Hedge finds could be conceivably lightening up on commodities to either support positions that may be under water, or may be raising cash to satisfy more stringent lending requirements imposed on them by their bankers. ...... It promises to be another tumultuous day to cap an equally tumultuous week, making us especially grateful that this weekend will be a long one.......Nickel is now at $28,600, down $700, but not seeing too much damage. Nonetheless, earlier support at $29,500 was taken out on a two-day closing basis, and we now see minor support at the $27,800 market (longer red line) and more major support at $26,300 (shorter line). (see full report in left column under Daily Reports)
  • Courtesy/copyright Dow Jones - "The selloff in commodities is more than likely just a routine pullback in a secular bull trend, says Michael Rawlinson of Liberum Capital. Notes that demand fundamentals for most commodities have "unquestionably weakened" since the beginning of the year on mainly declining OECD growth expectations, but says a deteriorating supply outlook is providing fundamental support."
  • Courtesy/copyright Dow Jones - "The liquidation in commodities is evidence that investors are reassessing demand, and therefore also prices, after the recent run-up, says HSBC's James Steel, with it no longer assured that commodity price appreciation is a safe "one-way bet." Notes the "glaring divergence" between previously escalating commodity prices and waning world economic growth."

  News Bites

  • World - World crude steel production for the 66 countries reporting to the International Iron and Steel Institute (IISI) was 107 million metric tons (mmt) in February. This is a 5.3% increase on February 2007. - more
  • China - Beijing has denied it is interfering in fraught iron ore price negotiations, assuring Canberra that delays to Australian spot imports are not part of any state-backed plan to put pressure on recalcitrant miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. - more
  • China - The China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) today denied reports that China is limiting spot iron ore imports from Australia by controlling import permissions. - more
  • Europe - Flat product prices have been substantially affected by the tremendous raw material cost escalations announced in recent times - more
  • New Caledonia - The Goro Nickel mining company in New Caledonia says a waste disposal pipe and a UNESCO protected area could coexist. - more
  • China - Taiyuan Iron & Steel Company Ltd plans to raise April 2008 prices for austenitic stainless steel to cope with high nickel price. - more
  • Congo - The Democratic Republic of Congo is to announce new mining deals a year after at least 60 contracts were suspended. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 234 tonnes = 47,802 tonnes (1.43% - 684 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 47,118net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 248000-251000 RMB/t, minus 4000  (charts)
Wednesday, March 19 (today is Third Wednesday prompt on LME. LME markets are closed this Friday and next Monday.)
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $13.43/lb 3 month buyer - $13.51/lb (13.43% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 92 to 7,801. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 300 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 12 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 6 tonnes from Singapore warehouse
  • If you were to look at the precious metals, base metals, and currency indexes today, you might walk away scratching your head. Only the US dollar index was up, if you can believe that. Markets appear to be very nervous, as attention has swung from inflationary concerns, back to recession concerns.  The latter typically drains enthusiasm in metals, especially with the decoupling theorists mysteriously quiet. Nervous and uncertain markets tend to take profits and we feel that is what took metals lower today. The World Bureau of Metal Statistics announced today that the global nickel market was in a deficit of 700 metric tons in January, and that worldwide nickel demand was 11,000 tons lower when compared to January 2007. For the day, three month nickel ended at $13.27/lb ($29,250/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Reports

  • World Bureau of Metal Statistics - January 2008 Metal Balances - pdf here (summary of nickel here)
  • Standard Bank Daily Market Comment - here
  • Standard Bank Commodities Research Weekly - pdf here
  • Canada Mining & Minerals  Monthly - January 2008 - pdf here

  Colombian ferronickel mine may restart labor talks

  • Labor talks at Colombia's Cerro Matoso ferronickel mine, which produces 4 percent of the world's nickel, may restart as early as this weekend, a company official said as a strike by workers entered its third week. - more

  Commodity Comments

  • Edward Meir - MF Global - "Where to from here amid this intense volatility? We think the metal markets should still work somewhat lower from here despite yesterday’s bounce. In fact, we are down this morning after being in positive territory earlier in the day. We think market attention will soon shift away from the weaker dollar and the instinctive metals-buying strategy associated with it, and towards the fact that the US credit crisis still remains well-entrenched, and that more importantly, the sharp slowdown in the US economy is bound to impact metals demand in other areas of the globe."

  News Bites

  • India - It is not so necessary for India to develop its own steel sector to 200 mln t but to maximize the profits of natural resources the country has. In this case nobody will get the work. Artem Zverev’s column on Tuesdays. - more
  • Brazil - Brazilian mining giant Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (RIO), or Vale, is planning to hire 62,000 workers over the next five years, a company spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday. - more
  • India - The liquidity boost and various macro-economic measures being adopted to fight the sub prime crisis, which has sent stock and bond markets on tenterhooks across the world, can soon fuel a commodity bubble, a top UNDP official said on Wednesday. - more
  • Russia - CJSC Gazmetall general director Maxim Basov told Interfax his company is still in merger talks with JSC MMC Norilsk Nickel. - more
  • China - Terra Nostra Resources Corporation, a majority owner of two joint venture companies in the copper and stainless steel industries in China, announced the signing of eight new contracts with new and existing customers for monthly production of over 2100 MT (metric tons) of stainless steel billets per month. - more

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

  • Indications at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.05/lb . After an early morning rise by about $500/tonne, nickel traders have since lost their enthusiasm. For the second day, LME warehouses received a large inbound shipment. Metals trading appears to be in a state of wait-and-see today, with all precious and base metals selling in the red this morning. Dollar is bouncing around close to a record low, but so far, staying shy of that mark. Equity markets around the world welcomed the 75 point cut announced yesterday, and until the market gets another inflation reminder, we could see some metal prices drift. An article posted on a forum yesterday, states ferrochrome is selling in the $5/lb region. Two years ago, we posted an article for one of our sponsors, about the immediate effect the increase in nickel would have on the price of a stainless steel bolt. We updated this yesterday, adding the dramatic effect the increase in ferrochrome will have. Also received a forwarded copy of an e-mail from a Taiwanese fastener manufacturer who had just been advised of a second price increase this month for stainless steel wire. Asian producers had announced a price increase the last week of February for March shipments, but before March actually began, fastener producers were suddenly told the wire producers would not accept purchase orders at the price they had just been quoted. According to the fastener producer, the moves by the stainless producers were unprecedented, and they had never seen such a move being taken before.  For consumers of stainless steel fasteners, it appears it will be another difficult summer. Thanks to the reader that sent the e-mail.
  • Bloomberg - more

  Reports

  • (India) Karvy Comtrade Daily Insights - pdf here

  NSSC cuts stainless steel production

  • Japanese Nippon Steel & Sumikin Stainless (NSSC) announced to cut its stainless steel 300 series output by 10 percent in March because domestic demand is still weak. - more

  Nickel and its effect on 304 Stainless Steel Bolts (updated article we wrote with info about ferrochrome's upcoming effect)

  • (since we posted this article in 2006, the price of nickel has risen to as high as $23.50/lb, and fallen, and is now back to about where it was when we originally posted. But ferrochrome has recently gone ballistic. As of today, it is selling for nearly $5/lb. Using $4.50/lb, the ferrochrome would now add $21.47 to the above 250 bolts... not the $3.58 it did when we posted in 2006. That is a 600% increase in a few short weeks!) - original article

  News Bites

  • Russia - "With low unemployment, an improving current account balance, 7% GDP growth, the world’s third-largest foreign exchange reserves, and membership in the World Trade Organization expected sometime early in 2009, Russia’s economic momentum should help underpin metal markets going forward, according to analysts at Desjardins Securities." - more
  • China - "According to the Chian Stainless Steel Association, the Tangshan stainless steel project is being delayed, due to emissions requirements announced for the Olympic Games. The article also states the project , which includes a "600,000 t / year smelting plant, a 300,000 t / year of cold-rolled, as well as a 300,000 t / year annealing and pickling line" has received all government approvals, and will start before the end of the year (i.e. when the games are over) (source)
  • South Africa - "Ferrochrome prices continued to move higher in Europe this week, setting new all-time highs consistently, and with low-carbon material getting ever closer to the $5.00 a pound level." - more
  • New Caledonia - "The construction of a Goro Nickel mine waste disposal pipe in New Caledonia remains on hold amid opposition by environmental activists and some Kanaks." - more
  • Japan - "FT reported that the Japan Fair Trade Commission will start having hearings with BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto shortly to investigate the proposed alliance between the two companies after a request from Japan Iron and Steel Federation’s request last week to take appropriate actions in order to block BHP’s proposed takeover of Rio Tinto." - more
  • Japan - "Japan's February crude steel production up 6.5% on year" - JISF
  • South Korea - "Prices of raw materials surged 45 percent in February from a year ago on rises of international crude oil prices, the Bank of Korea (BOK) said Wednesday." - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 282 tonnes = 47,568 tonnes (0.73% - 348 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 47,220 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 252000-255000 RMB/t, minus 250  (charts)
Tuesday, March 18 (tomorrow is Third Wednesday prompt on LME. LME markets are closed this Friday and next Monday.)
  Update - Fed cuts rates by 75 points. This should hurt the dollar, which will boost interest in commodities.

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up

  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $13.68/lb 3 month buyer - $13.72/lb (15.2% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 20 to  7,893. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 462 tonnes into Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 18 tonnes from Rotterdam warehouse, minus 24 tonnes from Baltimore, MD, USA warehouse (only 2nd day this month to get an inbound shipment and largest since Feb 21st)
  • With the Fed's expected announcement of further rate cuts taking place later today, commodities markets were in a wait-and-see mode today. Typically, recession news is not good for commodities, as was dramatically shown in the markets reaction to the surprise Bear Stern collapse yesterday, but the Fed's dropping of interest rates to lessen the recessionary risk to the US economy, tends to drive inflation higher, and devalue the US dollar, both of which are typically good for commodity investments.  
  • Nickel - Today's official prices may appear to be confusing, with the market trading in the green all day, but official prices showing down from yesterday's. Official prices are established after the second ring (around 1 pm London time), so the steep drop in afternoon trading yesterday was not completely offset by this morning's gains. Today's inbound shipment of 462 tonnes is noteworthy, in light of the Cerro Matoso strike. Speaking of the strike, a letter from the president of the striking union to the president of BHP was posted online today here (poor translation). In the letter, the president of CERROMATOSO S.A.claims many of the non-union workers hired at the mine are working at minimum wage. Based on our figures posted above, of a potential loss of approximately 2,934 tonnes of nickel at a ballpark figure of $30,000/tonne, the strike has 'potentially' cost BHP $88 million dollars. Some of this has been offset by their sales from other nickel mines being sold at higher prices, thanks in part, to the Colombia strike. Today, three month nickel ended the days trading at $13.61/lb ($30,000/tonne) 
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Reports

  • The Fortis Asian Metals Monthly - pdf here

  LME metals bounce, but seen vulnerable

  • Industrial metals rebounded on Tuesday after the previous session's sharp fall, but investors will pay close attention to a meeting of the Federal Reserve scheduled for later in the day, analysts said. - more

  Commodities Resilience Waning But Markets Reluctant To Go Short

  • The resilience of commodities prices appears to be waning as risk aversion takes the driving seat, but market participants said Tuesday a reluctance to be caught short is helping provide some support. - more

  Stainless steel prices unsettled; buyers reluctant to commit to big-tonnage buys

  • Specialty steel producers have been expecting buyers to re-enter the market for stainless steels in early 2008, but buying continues on an as-needed basis. - more

  News Bites

  • Courtesy Dow Jones - "Barclays is neutral on lead, bearish on nickel and zinc, and highlights copper, aluminum and tin as having the most upside price potential in '08."
  • Colombia - "Colombian workers at the nickel mine continue their strike in support of a pay rise and open-ended employment contracts for temporary workers." - more
  • South Africa - "The current power situation is "extremely serious" as nine of Eskom’s generators have tripped over the last few days, the power utility said today." - more
  • India - "India exported 93.79 million mt of iron ore in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2007, which was far higher than the 68.504 million mt the domestic steel industry consumed during the period, the Ministry of Steel said in a statement over the weekend." - more
  • Brazil - "From deep in the Amazon jungle comes the latest theory, or stereotype, about women drivers: Apparently, they go easier on tires." - more
  • China - "The National Bureau of Statistics of China revealed China's nickel production in January - February increased 1.7% on year to 20,981 mt and rose 2.1% on year to 10,194 mt in February. The country’s crude steel output rose 6.4% on year to 79.45 million mt in January - February."
  • Opinion - "A veteran trader, who developed a trends indicator used by many of the big names in the futures business, says a "perfect storm" is brewing in commodities that could mean further gains over the next several months." - more

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.45/lb . In a total shift from yesterday's reaction, worldwide equity markets are trading in the green today (more) and except for lead, all metals, precious and base, are trading in the green as well. The Fed meeting will get all the attention today, as they are expected to cut interest rates, once again.
  • Bloomberg - more
  • Financial Times - more

  Reports

  • Behre Dolbear Global mining News - pdf here
  • Canada Commodity Price Update - pdf here
  • TD Bank Weekly Commodity Price Report - pdf here
  • Standard Bank Market Comment - here
  • Rand Merchant Bank Base Metals Weekly - pdf here
  • (India) Karvy Comtrade Metals Insight - pdf here

  Jindal Stainless to enter power, logistics sectors

  • India's largest stainless steel producer, Jindal Stainless Ltd, plans to set up an independent power project and a foray into the logistics sector, a senior official said. - more

  News Bites

  • China - Chinese iron ore importers are facing delays in getting permits to buy spot iron ore from Australia, market participants said Tuesday, partly backing up a report that mining giants BHP Billiton (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RTP) have been blackballed during contract price negotiations. - more
  • China - At least 300,000 tonnes of Australian spot iron ore are stranded at Chinese ports after Beijing delayed issuing permits in the midst of bitter annual contract talks, traders and shipping officials said on Tuesday. - more
  • USA - Steel prices have been soaring in the US market due mainly to the weak US dollar, and they are flying in the face of a possible recession, noted analyst Charles Bradford in an equity research note Monday. "Raw material costs have jumped dramatically," Bradford wrote, "but less than [steel product] selling prices." - more
  • Courtesy AISI- "In the week ending March 15, 2008, domestic raw steel production was 2,086,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 87.5 percent. Production was 2,073,000 tons in the week ending March 15, 2007, while the capability utilization then was 86.3 percent. The current week production represents a 0.6 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending March 15, 2008 is down 1.2 percent from the previous week ending March 8, 2008 when production was 2,113,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 88.6 percent."
  • Mining - Mining merger and acquisition activity in 2008 is set to top 2007's record $158.9 billion total as the number and size of deals escalate, PricewaterhouseCoopers said in a report on Tuesday. - more
  • South Africa - Power may have to be cut to South Africa's vital gold and platinum mines if more generators fail because of bad weather, Eskom said on Tuesday, sending local mining shares tumbling. - more
  • India - In what may impact the business plans of companies like Tata Steel, SAIL, Posco and LN Mittal group’s Mittal Steel, the government is preparing to introduce a new system of royalty for minerals that would result in an over 10-fold increase in the payout to states on iron ore. - more
  • Australia - Aluminum Corp. of China, or Chinalco, is in talks with Alcoa Inc. (AA) to consider the possibility of raising their stake in Rio Tinto PLC (RTP), President Xiao Yaqing said Tuesday. - more
  • Canada - Native leaders from a remote Northwestern Ontario reserve were sent to jail in handcuffs yesterday for opposing mining on their traditional lands, as an opposition leader blamed the Ontario government for failing to resolve the conflict - more
  • Taiwan - Taiwan's Iron Ore Imports In 2007: 16.035 Mt - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus 420 tonnes = 47,286 tonnes (0.71% - 336 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,950 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 251500-256000 RMB/t, minus 7000   (charts)
Monday, March 17
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $14.15/lb 3 month buyer - $14.24/lb (19.56% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 59 to 7,913. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - minus 102 tonnes from Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 24 tonnes from Liverpool, England warehouse, minus 36 tonnes from Singapore warehouse, minus 12 tonnes from Baltimore, Maryland, USA warehouse, no inbound shipments recorded for last 10 of 11 business days
  • After the emergency rate cut yesterday, coming on the heels of the Bear Sterns collapse, the markets took a confidence hit today, as nervous traders backed off to determine who was telling the real story, and who was painting lipstick on their pig. Call it 'risk management'. Equity markets worldwide tumbled. Shanghai, down 3.6%, Hong Kong, down 5.2%, Australia, down 2.2%, India, down 6%, United Kingdom, down 2.75%, Germany, down 3.3%, Brazil, down 3%, etc. U.S Dow, which has yet to conclude trading, saw an initial knee jerk reaction at the bell, dropping 200 points, but has entered into a tug-of-war since, between those who are losing confidence, and those who are banking on another Fed rate cut tomorrow to turn everything around. At one point this morning, the bullish traders actually pulled the Dow into the green for a short time!! Bloomberg headline -"Industrial production in the U.S. dropped more than forecast in February as the world's biggest economy headed into a recession." (more) The index of industrial production measures the physical output of the nation's factories, mines and utilities, and reportedly fell .5% in February. We seriously doubt the mining industry added to this negative growth, and in fact, potentially offset a greater decline in factories. The Bull Stearns collapse has left its investors shocked and infuriated, and spooked investors in general.
  • In metals, the Rio Tinto/BHP and China iron ore stand-off took a unique twist. Tinto wants more for its iron ore, than Vale agreed to sell for, claiming their transportation costs from Australia, are less than China pays for Vale shipments from Brazil. Tinto went so far as to threaten it would sell all of its iron ore on the open market last week. China responded today by forbidding its steel producers from buying BHP or Tinto iron ore on the open market. Good news for Vale and other smaller iron ore producers, but China needs more iron ore than Vale can supply. They are importing more from India, but India has its own growing steel industry, and is considering banning iron ore exports as a way to protect its natural resources for its own production. Someone is going to have to blink here and it will be interesting to see who does first. We expected metal prices to back off today, but felt the downside would be restrained due to the ever falling dollar. Restrained, it was not. LME traded base metals all traded in the red today, with most commodities trading lower, except for gold, as recession worries beat out inflation concerns. The trading price of nickel  fell hard in morning trading, started showing signs of recovery in early afternoon trading, then renewed its downturn, ending over 8% lower for the day. After the smoke had cleared, three month nickel ended the day at $13.34/lb ($29,400/tonne)

  LME Base Metals Close Dn 4%-7% On Recession Fears

  • Industrial metals on the London Metal Exchanged tumbled Monday as fears of a global recession washed through world stock markets, but traders said the rampant selloff may be enough for now. - more

  Insight: Commodities swamped in rush to safety

  • Commodity prices are hitting new highs almost every day. There seems to be no limit to where prices can go. Well, get ready: the big fall is coming soon. - more  (comment - if the author would happen to turn out to be correct on this, and we have our doubts, a 20% reduction in metal prices, would take nickel prices falling back to where they started the year.)

  Investors flee commodities

  • Gold and oil prices tumbled on Monday after hitting record highs as the escalating financial crisis and a steadier dollar prompted investors to flee commodities and take refuge in cash. - more

  China locks out BHP and Rio ore

  • Australia's mining giants have been blackballed from selling iron ore into the lucrative Chinese daily spot market, in a dramatic escalation of their battle to extract more value from the world's most powerful steel industry. - more

  News Bites

  • Commodity Related - Oil at $111 a Barrel: We Are Being "Sovereignty Screwed"! - more
  • Brazil - The CEOs of Anglo-Swiss mining group Xstrata PLC and leading shareholder Glencore International AG left Brazil without a firm takeover deal from iron ore giant Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, according to local press reports Monday. - more

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

  • Indications at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.50/lb . After the surprise announcement by the Fed about another emergency rate cut, and the sale of Bear Stearns for pennies on the market, the financial world has been thrown into a near panic today. Equity markets around the world, that have already traded, or are currently trading, are in the red (more). Oil and gold both have hit new record high's today, with the Dollar falling to a new low against the Euro. Market Watch's lead headline this morning, before the US markets have even opened, "Wall Street bathed all in red". Base metals are down across the board this morning. It appears it will be a very long day.
  • Bloomberg - more
  • Globe Investor - more

  Haywood Security Metals & Mining - pdf here

  Prices Of Ferro-Chrome In Europe Have Risen Further

  • High Carbon Price Has Risen To Higher Level Than US$3 / Lb., Low Carbon Price Has Come To US$4.50 - more

  Yusco raises stainless steel prices again in March

  • Stimulated by increasing nickel price, the largest integrated stainless steel mill, Yieh United Steel Corp. (Yusco) announced to raise stainless steel prices again in March. - more

  News Bites

  • New Caledonia - The group opposing the Goro Nickel Mining Project in New Caledonia, Rheebu Nuu, has won the local elections in the town of Yate. - more
  • China - China's efforts to curb heavy outflow of non-renewable mineral resources from the country have paid off. - more
  • China - China Iron & Steel Association - China's fixed asset investment totaled 812.1 billion yuan (about 114.4 billion U.S. dollars) in the first two months, up 24.3 percent year on year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Friday.
  • Russia - Norilsk/BHP Billiton “alliance for development of huge Russian nickel deposit raises some questions. - more
  • Australia - ONE of Queensland's biggest industrial projects - to be built at Gladstone after a $33 million deal with the State Government - could be a serious air pollution hazard, the Government's own health department has warned. - more
  • India - Finnish stainless steel maker Outokumpu Oyj plans to invest 30 million euros (Rs.1.65 billion) over a period of two years to build a service centre in India, the firm said Sunday. - more
  • Russia - THE leading independent director at Norilsk Nickel, the £30 billion Russian mining giant, has urged shareholders to vote against a proposed boardroom shake-up. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 174 tonnes = 46,866 tonnes (0.69% - 324 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,542 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 259500-262000 RMB/t, plus 1250  (charts)
Weekend Review, March 15 & 16
  Sunday - In a highly unusual move for a weekend, and only two days before a scheduled meeting, the Federal Reserve has announced a cut to its lending rate to financial institutions from 3.50% to 3.25% effective immediately. The Fed is also creating another lending facility for big investment banks to secure short-term loans, which is scheduled to last six months, longer if necessary. The Fed says the steps are "designed to bolster market liquidity and promote orderly market functioning." (orderly market functioning means that with the collapse of Bear Sterns greeting markets Monday morning, it was very likely the market could have been, and might still be, pummeled.) The collapse of B.S. (now that's an ominous sign isn't it) had been announced earlier in the day - "JPMorgan Chase said Sunday it will acquire rival Bear Stearns in a deal valued at $236.2 million, a stunning collapse for one of the world's largest and most venerable investment banks. JPMorgan Chase & Co. said the $2 a share, all-stock deal has received the required approvals from the federal government and the Federal Reserve. Bear Stearns shares close Friday at $30 a share. In October of last year, Bear was trading at $120 per share."

  Stainless: High nickel prices turn industry on to chrome

  • The stainless steel industry was trying to cut nickel use in its production process due to the volatility and high price of the metal, a senior industry figure said this week. - more

  Lustrous Metal Is a Big Deal

  • Dealmakers have taken a shine to the metals and mining industry as commodities prices have skyrocketed in recent years. Takeovers accelerated last year, with a big push from BHP Billiton's $147 billion bid for Rio Tinto. U.S. and Canadian companies have attracted the most interest, accounting for 46 percent of the total value of deals since 2003. Gold and steel companies have represented 45 percent of the value of deals signed over the period. - more

  Keep up with the new order, China's on speed

  • Each month the number of new houses being built in the US drops to a new low and the world copper price takes a little hit. - more

  KORES to Lead $6 Bil. Metal Investment

  • Korea Resources Corp. (KORES), the state-owned minerals explorer, and its partners plan to invest $6 billion (roughly 5.98 trillion won) in mining and energy projects abroad, according to a news report. - more

  Jinchuan to speed up the overseas mineral investments

  • It is reported that Jinchuan Group, the largest nickel producer of China profited CNY 6.016 billion in 2007, at the same time it plans to take part in the overseas mineral resources project. - more

  Vale's Agnelli, from prodigy banker to mining king

  • When Roger Agnelli was structuring merger and acquisition deals in the 1990s as a young Brazilian investment banker, few would have imagined he would end up steering one of the world's top mining companies from one international takeover to another. - more

  More chrome could leave South Africa unbeneficated because of power shortages

  • South African exports of raw chrome ore rose by in excess of 55% in 2007, which was “killing jobs and killing revenue”, JSE-listed Merafe Resources CEO Steve Phiri said on Monday, adding that the country’s power crisis could worsen the situation. - more

  Molybdenum and You

  • Molybdenum is not just a metal that is nearly impossible to pronounce, it is also a metal that is nearly impossible to do without…especially if the world wishes to continue using light bulbs, computers, air conditioners and automobiles. - more

  Nickel miner seeks solution

  • Representatives from a major nickel exporter, Norilsk Nickel Australia, visited Esperance last week to liase with the community and discuss a number of issues in relation to exporting nickel through the town. - more

  Resource boom can't last, Carney says

  • The high commodity prices that have shielded Canada from recessionary conditions in the United States are poised to weaken and drag down the Canadian economy, the Bank of Canada's new Governor warned yesterday. - more

  Muslim cleric Sheikh Hasim Fereji says “Mining a blessing from God to be used wisely for all Tanzanians.”

  • Nominee for the strangest mining-related event of the week goes to the release in Tanzania of a report entitled A Golden Opportunity? - more

  Obituary: John Cooke – Mining legend dies at 80

  • For some, his memory conjures the gentle, honey scent of Chivas Regal scotch, to others, the corners of a meticulously tied tie coupled with a well-tailored suit. But whatever the memory, its roots lie in a deep fondness and respect for John S. Cooke and the era he embodied. - more

Friday, March 14
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $14.79/lb 3 month buyer - $14.95/lb (25.52% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 120 to 7,972. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - minus 90 tonnes from Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 24 tonnes from Liverpool, England warehouse, minus 18 tonnes from Baltimore, MD, USA warehouse, no inbound recorded for 9 of last 10 days
  • Let's see - what were our stories yesterday? And how would they look today? "US dollar falls to lowest against the Euro - ever.(again) Gold hits $1000 per ounce for the first time - ever.(actually it hit a record high of $1009 today) Oil goes over $110/barrel for first time - ever." (not today - it actually fell a tad) This may go down in the books as seeing the most records broken over and over again in the same week. Bloomberg had an article today with the first line reading "Commodities may have ``explosive rallies'' in the next couple of years, with crude oil rising to $175 a barrel, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc." (more) For traders worldwide, both winners and the losers, the week couldn't end quick enough. A graph of nickel trading today, would resemble more a mountain range than any kind of roller coaster, with a few sharp buy and then sell spikes. On the supply side, there is no change in the Cerro Matoso nickel mine strike in Colombia. It is interesting to note that while LME nickel prices have gone up over the last few weeks, we noticed today that the price of low grade laterite ore in China has fallen over the past week. For the week and day, three month nickel closed at $14.76/lb  ($32,550/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more
  • AFX News - more
  • Learn a foreign language, many for free, online - more info here And if you get bored this weekend, you can watch movies, documentaries, or tv shows at QuickSilverScreen
  • Have a safe and restful weekend!!

  The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) today determined that there is a reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is materially injured or threatened with material injury by reason of imports of welded stainless steel pressure pipe from China that are allegedly subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value. - more

  News Bites

  • South Africa - Black-empowered ferrochrome producer Merafe Resources turned the power outage to best advantage by fast-forwarding its furnace maintenance schedule.- more
  • USA - Update on anti-dumping investigation into steel threaded rod (does not include stainless steel threaded rod) - pdf here
  • Brazil - Brazil's mining company Vale and trading house Glencore, key stockholder in Swiss-based miner Xstrata that Vale wants to buy, have overcome difficulties in talks on marketing rights for Xstrata products, a local newspaper reported on Friday. - more
  • Russia - Russian steelmaker Evraz announced Friday it will buy Canada's IPSCO for $4 billion. - more

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by around $.16/lb . So far today, nickel has traded in the green with a couple of sharp spikes, followed by equally sharp retreats. U.S. Dollar continues to fall this morning against the Euro, setting yet another record low, and base metals are trading in London, green across the board.
  • Bloomberg - more

  Fortis Metals Monthly March 2008 - pdf here

  China's 2007 stainless steel exports rise 44.78% to 1.303 mil mt

  • China's stainless steel exports rose 44.78% to 1.303 million mt in 2007, Beijing Antaike, the state-owned metals information provider said Friday. - more

  BHP Colombia Nickel Mine Halts Deliveries Amid Strike

  • BHP Billiton Ltd.'s Cerro Matoso nickel mine in Colombia halted all deliveries after a 22-day strike depleted stockpiles, a union official said.  - more (comment - some problems with this article - first and most obvious - it has not been a 22 day strike yet. Second, a BHP spokesperson told us last week, when we were enquirying about the union claim that BHP has shut down a local school, that by Colombia law, "all" company affiliated operations had to be shut down when the union went on strike. If this were true, shipments from this mine should have stopped on Feb 27th.)
  • After two weeks on strike, workers at the Colombian nickel mine of Cerro Matoso, owned by Australian mining company BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP), are ready to start talks with the company after they pared their demands, a union leader said. - more

  News Bites

  • Russia - OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel invited BHP Billiton Ltd., the world's biggest mining company, to explore the largest untapped nickel deposit in Russia, after winning the rights for it at an auction today. - more
  • Russia - THE drama surrounding Norilsk Nickel, the world's largest nickel producer, has all the elements of an airport thriller: billionaire oligarchs invading the French resort of Courchevel; models flown in from Moscow; wads of cash flying like confetti; all-night discos, magnums of champagne and buckets of caviar; and the whole thing topped off with a police raid. - more
  • Mining - Global mining firms are unearthing ingenious solutions to grapple with shortages of workers and equipment amid the commodities boom, recruiting retired miners and buying cut-rate equipment from China and Russia, executives said this week. - more
  • Canada - Salluit's Qaqqalik landholding corporation isn't convinced that Nunavik needs a second nickel mine, especially one that's right next door to Xstrata's huge Raglan mine. - more
  • Philippines - The value of mineral output in the Philippines last year surged 45% to PHP80.41 billion (US$1.9 billion) on increased production and stronger metal prices in the global market, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau said Friday. - more
  • Australia - China's state-backed Sinosteel Corp. launched a 1.2 billion Australian dollar ($1.1 billion) takeover bid Friday for iron ore miner Midwest in the first hostile approach by a Chinese company for an Australian one.- more
  • China - Chinese metal fabricators are starting to feel the pinch from a slowdown in US export orders, indicating that internal demand from the Asian giant may not be able to sustain the metals price boom. - more
  • India - MMTC of India has revised the floor prices of chrome ores to be exported from India, effective for shipments from the 1st March of 2008. Namely, the floor prices have risen by US$98 - 100 per metric ton. - more
  • Japan - Japan Iron and Steel Federation said Thursday that it had asked the Fair Trade Commission to act against the possible merger of Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton. - more
  • Canada - Evraz Group SA, the steelmaker part owned by billionaire Roman Abramovich, agreed to pay SSAB Svenskt Staal AB $4.03 billion for North American assets after steel prices rose and the dollar slumped. - more (thanks CO)

  Getting the Best out of Stainless Steel

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

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 132 tonnes = 47,040 tonnes (0.99% - 468 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,572 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 258000-261000 RMB/t, plus/minus 0   (charts)
Thursday, March 13
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $14.64/lb 3 month buyer - $14.76/lb (23.93% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 254 to 8,092. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - minus 36 tonnes from Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 18 tonnes from Baltimore, MD, USA warehouse, no inbound for 8 of last 9 days
  • US dollar falls to lowest against the Euro - ever. Gold hits $1000 per ounce for the first time - ever. Oil goes over $110/barrel for first time - ever. Another wonderful day in the neighborhood - unless you actually purchase anything. For the most part, metals traded on the London Metal Exchange were either up, or flat today. Nickel was one of those that was up, although it did not set the record high that its counterpart tin did, when it hit $20,000, for the first time - ever. How would you like to be the proof-reader for the Guinness Book of World Records these days? "Sorry Bill, that record lasted 24 hours but it's no good today!" For the day, three month nickel ended the days trading at $14.58/lb  ($32,150/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Extending the Life of Japanese Apartments

  • The Japanese Stainless Steel Association (JSSA) has entered into a 3-year program designed to expand the use of long-lasting nickel-containing stainless steel in residential high-rise piping systems throughout the country. - more

  How Long Will the Mining Boom Last? - Paul Stothart

  • The Canadian and international mining industries are enjoying buoyant times. As shown in the adjacent table, while the specific figures vary by mineral, overall prices have grown by roughly two-fold to five-fold over the past five years. - more

  Paper: Xstrata, Glencore CEOs to meet Vale's Agnelli

  • Swiss miner Xstrata's CEO Mick Davis and compatriot commodities trader Glencore's CEO Ivan Glasenberg are on their way to Brazil to meet with Roger Agnelli, the CEO of Vale, daily O Estado de S Paulo reported. - more

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.33/lb . Reuters headline this morning - "Dollar falls below 100 yen, hits record low vs euro". Nickel has been up by as much as $1000/tonne already this morning.
  • Bloomberg - more

  400 series stainless steel prices experiencing upward trend

  • Asian major stainless steel makers have raised prices of 400 series stainless steel to cover the higher costs of chrome. Ferro-chrome prices have been rising since the middle of last year due to a combination of strong demands for low-nickel stainless steel and supply tightness. - more

  US low-carbon ferrochrome price surge continues

  • Prices of low-carbon ferrochrome in the US continued to rally further as the markets responded further to the force majeure of South African producer Samancor. - more

  TISCO to raise SS prices in April 2008

  • Interfax China reported that Taiyuan Iron and Steel Group Co Ltd China's largest stainless steel mill will raise its core product prices in April in response to soaring nickel prices. - more

  Stainless steel prices unsettled; buyers reluctant to commit to big-tonnage buys

  • Specialty steel producers have been expecting buyers to re-enter the market for stainless steels in early 2008, but buying continues on an as-needed basis. - more

  Commodity Comments

  • Copyright/courtesy Citywire - "Morgan Stanley’s Stephen Roach is bearish and forecasts a sharp drop in commodity prices as the US housing market crumbles and the global economy cools....China’s growth is unrelenting, but a significantly greater share of its oil and industrial metals are invested in goods manufactured for export, not for domestic consumption."
  • Copyright/courtesy Macquarie Research Commodities Comment - (2/28/08) - "In the final six months of 2007, we estimate that world stainless steel production fell 8.5% YoY and the production of austenitic grades (nickel containing) fell a whopping 15% YoY......All grades contain 14–18% chrome by content but the 200 and 400 series chrome content is sourced around 85–90% from primary ferrochrome and only 10–15% from recycled scrap. 300-series on the other hand sources around 50% of chrome units from recycled nickel-chrome scrap. ....Until now, the supply of stainless steel scrap (containing 18% chrome and 8% nickel) remains plentiful."
  • Comment - Based on statistics given by Macquarie in the above report, production of the so-called pig nickel, was the the 6th largest source of nickel in the world in 2007, behind the Norilsk group, Vale Inco, BHP, Xstrata, and Jinchuan. The same report shows pig nickel production would have ranked as the 13th largest source in 2006. The graph shows production of pig nickel grew from 26 tonnes in 2006, to 90 tonnes last year. If their estimate of 110 tonnes this year proves correct, production of pig nickel should maintain the 6th place, falling behind 5th place Jinchuan 2008 estimates by 5000/tonnes and 4th place Xstrata 2008 estimates by 6000 tonnes.
  • Copyright/courtesy MSN - "In some metals, such as nickel and zinc, where plenty of mine supply is expected to come onstream over the next couple of years, many analysts predict prices to be sluggish." - more  

  News Bites

  • Iran - Tata Steel is in advance stage of negotiations to procure chrome ore from Iran for its upcoming ferrochrome plant in South Africa, Dinesh Shastri, executive in charge of ferro alloys and minerals division of the company said today. - more
  • USA - Although faced with historically high raw material and energy costs, AK Steel led all U.S. integrated steelmakers in adjusted operating profitability in 2007. As a result of its cost-control efforts, liability-reduction initiatives and asset maximization strategy, the company is once again on solid financial footing. - more
  • World  - Iron ore prices will fall after 2009 as increased supply from producers such as BHP Billiton Ltd. and Cia. Vale do Rio Doce begins to match demand from China, CRU Analysis said. - more
  • Finland - The CEO of Finnish stainless steel company Outokumpu said in February he expects stainless steel prices to continue rising. Outokumpu stuck to its earlier forecasts that stainless steel prices will edge up as much as $185/metric ton to more than $1,800 by late March. (Courtesy Purchasing Magazine)
  • India - India may not be able to add more than half its target of 100 million tonne of steel capacity by 2020 as the world faces a raw materials shortage and India has problems with land acquisition, according to the Posco Research Institute, a unit of South Korean steel major Posco. - more
  • Japan - Projects To Develop Nickel Resources By Xstrata (1) = Koniambo Project Is Scheduled To Produce Ferro-Nickel On Full Scale From 2013 - more
  • South Korea - South Korea will crack down on people attempting to accumulate stocks of steel scraps and bars to prevent speculative demand and stabilise prices of those products, the Finance Ministry said on Sunday. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 54 tonnes = 47,172 tonnes (1.09% - 516 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,656 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 258000-261000 RMB/t, plus 1750 (charts)
Wednesday, March 12
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $14.23/lb 3 month buyer - $14.30/lb (20% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 214 to 8,346. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - minus 72 tonnes from Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, no inbound for 7 of last 8 days
  • Traders had more time to examine what the Fed did yesterday, and after the knee jerk reaction that saw the dollar strengthen late yesterday, this morning's headline read "Euro hits lifetime high against dollar". Apparently those who trade dollars, decided the the Fed's infusion of money was less like giving penicillin to a sick person, and more like giving a single dose of antibiotic to handle an epidemic. Equities market are still upbeat, though, about the action, or the market that went green yesterday, refuses to give up its gains on principle. Many analysts feel the action will put more upward pressure on inflation, which hurts the dollar, which in turn, helps metals. Typically, when the price of nickel increases more than $200/tonne, it would be newsworthy. But after the last few weeks, trading today appeared to be a yawner. Nickel spent the day trading in an approximately $500/tonne range, by $100/tonne into the red for a daily low, and at another point, around $400/tonne in the green. By days end, three month nickel closed at $14.45/lb ($ 31,850/tonne).   
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Behre Dolbear Global Mining News - pdf here

  Chinese Stainless Steel Price

  • Rusmet reports the following prices for the Foshan, China stainless steel market - (RMB/t including 17% VAT)
    CR 304  2B January 08 = 31900 - 32100 / February 08 = 31500 - 31700 / March 08 = 32500 - 32700 / April 08 = 32800 - 33000
    CR 202  2B January 08 = 22000 - 22200 / February 08 = 22600 - 23000 / March 08 = 23800 - 24000 / April 08 = 23900 - 24100
    CR 430 2B January 08 = 11000 - 11300 / February 08 = 11500 - 12000 / March 08 = 12400 - 12500 / April 08 = 12500 - 12600
    HR 304 2B January 08 = 30100 - 30300 / February 08 = 28800 - 30000 / March 08 = 31400 - 31600 / April 08 = 31700 - 31900

  News Bites  

  • USA - According to a report published in Chinese media yesterday, Vulcan Threaded products has filled a anti-dumping complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission against Chinese threaded rod and has asked for duties to be imposed of 35% to 206%, depending on the product. Typically, an inquiry will begin in mid-April with initial determinations to be issued by August. If you are a major buyer of imported threaded rod in the US, you should consider taking appropriate precautions.
  • USA - These days, your thoughts are worth 1.7 cents. That's what it costs the government to forge a penny, thanks to the rising price of metal. A nickel costs 10 cents. Congress has concluded that's a pretty bad deal. - more
  • Australia - Rio Tinto, the mining giant being stalked by rival BHP Billiton, is threatening Asian steelmakers that it will sell iron ore on the lucrative spot market unless they agree to pay higher prices for the metal. - more
  • Australia - Rio Tinto is breaking with tradition, refusing to follow the Brazilian lead and demanding more for its iron ore. Anyone concerned about the oligopoly in this dull metal which has suddenly become a glittering prize will be pleased that one of the triumvirate of BHP Billiton, Rio and Vale has broken ranks, failing to set its price in line with the first mover. Unfortunately, Rio is striking out on its own for the wrong reason - it wants to charge more, not offer steelmakers a better price. - more
  • Canada - Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources - The Honourable Gary Lunn - Toronto PDAC Speech - more
  • USA - Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc expects demand for molybdenum to remain strong, but only supply and demand factors can determine whether metal added to the market by reopening its Climax mine would cause prices to fall, said Richard Adkerson, chief executive officer of the world's largest molybdenum miner. - more

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.02/lb and selling in a much more narrow range than it has recently. Please bear with us over the next few days as we return this page to an older format. While we felt the newer format gave a more professional appearance, the rate of visitor growth has faltered, so we are taking a step back. A special thanks to our daily sponsors.
  • Bloomberg - more

  Standard Bank Market Comment - here

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "Base metals remain at risk from further de-leveraging as recent longs look to take profits and short-term momentum players hunt for downside stops, says UBS. "We would look to buy aluminum on dips; copper below $8,000/metric ton and using rallies in the other metals to take profits," it says."......"London Metal Exchange base metals consolidated Wednesday after the latest liquidity injection by central banks helped the dollar briefly recover, but market participants said market sentiment was fragile which could trigger more falls."

  Courtesy Jack Keough - Industrial Distribution Magazine - "Economist Alan Beaulieu of the Institute for Trend Research believes that not only are we not in a recession, but that 2008 will be an “okay” year with tepid growth. But he warned attendees at a recent meeting of the National Assn. of Wholesaler-Distributors that there will be a recession in 2009 and 2010 before a return to growth in 2011 and 2012."

  Ferro-Nickel Production In Japan Sees Strong Probability To Decrease In 2008 = Uncertainty Of Ore Supply From New Caledonia

  • Japan produced 68,346 tons of nickel in ferro-nickel in the calendar year (January - December) of 2007, having increased by 2.5% compared with that ( 66,668 tons ) in the preceding year of 2006, but, in view of an uncertainty on supply of nickel ore from New Caledonia as raw material which is foreseen for 2008, Japan has a strong probability to decrease the production of ferro-nickel in 2008. - more

  Chinese nickel pig producers facing high costs

  • Platts cited Mr Xu Aidong an analyst from state owned Beijing Antaike Information Development as saying that higher production costs among Chinese producers for pig iron with nickel content have lifted the minimum tolerable nickel price level for them to sustain operations to USD 20,000 per tonnes in 2008 from USD 15,000 per tonnes in 2007. - more

  News Bites  

  • Japan - Japanese stainless steel scrap steel dealers increased price to 300,000/ton in the Kanto region, and the new price is between 290,000 to 300,000/ton at present, hitting a new high since November 2007. - more
  • China - imports of steel from China have fallen in 2008 almost as quickly as they hit U.S. shores two years ago, according to industry officials. - more
  • Philippines - A controversial small-scale nickel mining firm which shut down its operations six months ago will soon reopen under a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) but on the same mining site in Tubay, Agusan del Norte. - more
  • China - It is reported that export offer for HRC steel coil are still on increasing trends despite weakening of domestic market prices. As per report, the highest quotation for commercial HRC has jumped to USD 860 per tonne to USD 870 per tonne FOB and other prevailing offers are at USD 840 per tonne USD 850 per tonne FOB. - more
  • China - It is reported that the talks on prices of iron ore between China's steel makers and BHP and Rio are not concluding over the issue of shipping costs. - more
  • Australia - Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Sam Walsh believes the current benchmark pricing system for iron ore will come to an end but it will not be happening anytime soon. - more
  • Japan - Japan's finance ministry is proposing to abolish the 5.37% import duty on high carbon ferrochrome as stainless steel producers struggle to cope with soaring raw material costs.  - more
  • India - Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus, owned by India's Tata Steel, will explore opportunities to secure "captive" supplies of raw materials to limit its exposure to global prices, its CEO said on Tuesday. - more
  • USA - A panel of steel industry analysts at the Steel Business Briefing Steel Markets North America conference Monday agreed that 2008 will be a banner year for North American steel mills, notwithstanding the specter of a recession. - more
  • Canada - Don Coxe Basic Points Feb 2008 - The Music of the Metals Market - pdf here

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 72 tonnes = 47,226 tonnes (1.09% - 516 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,710 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 256500-259000 RMB/t, minus 5750 (charts)
Tuesday, March 11
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $14.58/lb 3 month buyer - $14.65/lb (23% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 64 to 8,560. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - minus 60 tonnes from Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 18 tonnes from Baltimore, MD, USA warehouse, minus 18 tonnes from Chicago, IL, USA warehouse, no inbound shipments recorded (For all of March, LME warehouses have received 2 shipments of  nickel for a total of 48 tonnes, both received on the 6th. That is 6 out of the last 7 days without any inbound shipments. )
  • Dollar fell to a record low this morning, before rebounding after the Fed announced "new measures to inject liquidity into the financial system". Beware obscenely rich readers. You are now in danger of losing your soul, thanks to a Catholic update to the seven deadly sins.(more). Then again, if you invested in base or precious metals yesterday, chances are good you got a little richer today...unless you chose nickel. Nickel dropped like a bomb at the outset of trading, then recovered sharply and moved into the green, then fell back in to the red, although not quite as hard as it had earlier. For the day, three month nickel ended the day at  $14.29/lb ($31,500/tonne)    
  • Closing Metals Report - more
  • Reuters - more

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "Despite testing lower levels on stops triggered through $32,000, LME prices stage a modest recovery before the close, from the low at $31,200, says Triland Metals analyst Michael Khosrowpour. "Strong support at $31,000 appears to be in view of further downside testing," he notes."

  Labor negotiations at Colombia's Cerro Matoso ferronickel mine were stalled on Tuesday as a strike by workers was about to go into its third week, union and company officials said. - more

  Desjardins Securities may be one of the few observers to stick with its forecast of no – repeat, no – U.S. recession in 2008. But if there is a recession, metal markets should be able to absorb the shock, according to John Redstone, an analyst at Desjardins. - more

  News Bites

  • Welcome to the upside-down world. A topsy-turvy place that turns a northern hemisphere anxious about recession dizzy as it contemplates Australia's sky-high growth. - more
  • Electricity prices will triple over the next decade as consumers are forced to pay for Eskom's heavy investment in new generation and transmission capacity to meet surging demand. - more
  • Vale, the Brazilian mining giant, is understood to be close to pulling the plug on its attempted £43 billion takeover of Xstrata after falls in its share price knocked billions of pounds off the value of the deal. - more
  • While stock markets plunge in 2008, the physical building blocks of economic growth -- metals such as copper and aluminium -- have defied fears of bad times ahead for the world economy by jumping up to 30 percent. - more
  • There’s a massive tug-of-war taking place right now between bulls and bears…and I’m not talking about the stock market here. - more
  • "Charlie and I believe Berkshire should be a fortress of financial strength" wrote Warren Buffett. That was five years before the subprime-credit meltdown. - more

  U.S. nickel exports rose 101.9% in January from the previous month, and was up 60.4% from the previous year, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. - more   U.S. nickel imports rose 24.1% in January from last month, and was up 18.1% from the previous year, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. - more

  Stainless Steel Wire Rod from Sweden: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review - more

  Reference

  • London Metal Exchange Inventory Figures - What Do They Mean - pdf here
  • Metals and Backwardation - pdf here
  • National Mining Association Miners Right-to-Know Handbook - Chemical Facts Sheet - pdf here

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.02/lb . After starting early morning trading by heading into the basement by around $1000/tonne, the market has climbed its way back into the green.
  • Bloomberg - more

  Reports

  • Rand Merchant Base Metals Monthly - pdf here
  • TD Bank Weekly Commodity Report - pdf here
  • Canada Commodity Price Update - pdf here
  • (India) Karvy Metals Insight - pdf here
  • Standard Bank Daily Commentary - here
  • Reuters Metals Weekly - pdf here

  Commodity Comments

  • Copyright/courtesy Snfm.com - Shanghai Nonferrous Metals weekly analyst poll. Of 30 metals analysts responding, 19 (63%) expect the price of nickel to rise this week, 5 (16%) expect the price to stay about the same, while the remaining 6 (20%) expect the price to fall.
  • Copyright Ed Meir/MF Global - "Nickel is now at $32,600, up $150; the complex was off earlier in the session, but has been pulled up by the rest of the group. Nevertheless, we are still hemmed in by resistance between $34,500 and $35,300."

  News Bites

  • Colombia - Negotiations between Australian mining company BHP Billiton Ltd and striking workers at its Colombian nickel mine Cerro Matoso have stalled, a union leader said Monday. - more
  • US - With demand for coal soaring around the world, Peabody Energy Co. in St. Louis has already exported more in 2008 than it did in all of 2007. - more
  • Japan - Nikkei reported that Nisshin Steel Company has raised stainless steel prices by as much as 10% with effect from April 1st 2008 to cover costs for fuel, iron ore and other materials. - more
  • England - Shares in Xstrata dropped 4.8% to 36.50 pounds in London action after The Wall Street Journal said it's "increasingly slim" that the miner will be bought by Brazil's Vale. - more
  • England - Commodities were at the centre of one of the earliest known financial bubbles – the tulip mania that hit the Netherlands in the 17th century. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 96 tonnes = 47,298 tonnes (1.05% - 498 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,800 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 262000-265000 RMB/t, minus 3250 (charts)
Monday, March 10
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $14.79/lb 3 month buyer - $14.88/lb (24.94% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 88 to 8,624. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - minus 36 tonnes from Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 18 tonnes from Chicago, IL, USA warehouse
  • MarketWatch posted an article today with the following byline "With $100-a-barrel here for now, Goldman Sachs says $200 a barrel could be a reality in the not-too-distant future in the case of a "major disruption." (more) Ok, it's not directly related to nickel or stainless, but it will sure make it more expensive to transport them both - if it ever comes true. With oil and gas inventories in the United States at, or above average, much of the price hike we are seeing in oil has similar reasons nickel does. The doomsayers were in print over the weekend, warning investors that the commodity boom was a bubble soon to bust. London trading showed that while traders were paying attention, they weren't buying the song completely. At one time the market did fall nearly $2000/tonne, 1/2 that during kerb trading, but the price recovered a little by the end. The metals market in general appears to be feeling the same nervousness as is being felt in many of the worldwide equities markets, with all precious and base metals selling down today. For the first day of the week, three month nickel closed at $14.72/lb (32,450/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Stainless steel industry eyes lower nickel usage

  • The stainless steel industry is trying to cut nickel usage in its production process, as the volatility and high price of the metal hurts, a senior industry figure told Reuters on Monday. - more

  Commodity Comments

  • Copyright/courtesy Bloomberg - "``People are less sure about the ability of metals and metals demand and the emerging markets to decouple from what is now clearly a recession in the U.S.,'' said Stephen Briggs, a London-based analyst at Societe Generale."
  • Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - Macquarie Research expects LME nickel may rise to $35,000/ton in next month, then move higher on short-covering, restocking by stainless steel mills. Says shortage of coke has pushed Chinese nickel pig iron production costs higher, providing support to nickel prices. Notes stainless steel production making small recovery in 1Q, especially in Europe, inducing need for restocking. Adds, growing shortage of ferrochrome may induce shift away from low-nickel, no-nickel stainless steel to higher nickel grades. "We think this could lead to a stronger-than-expected surge in demand for nickel as the stainless market recovers in the coming quarters." Forecasts global nickel market to be nearly balanced in 2008, with surplus of just 7,000 tons, down from 2007 surplus of 60,000 tons.
  • Copyright/courtesy Grand Forks Herald - “The price appreciation of some commodities is supported by strong fundamentals,” but others are along for the ride, noted Barclays Capital’s commodities research team in a report last week. For example, nickel and zinc prices gained the most among metals recently — rising 17 percent and 11 percent, respectively, in just seven days ending Tuesday. Yet they have the weakest fundamentals, the analysts said. Without a recovery in the U.S. and Asian stainless steel markets, the analysts see no reason why nickel’s price should be soaring. Typically, commodity prices rise and fall based largely on supply and demand."

  News Nuggets

  • Japan - Rusmet reports Japan's largest producer of stainless steel, Nippon Steel & Sumikin, is reporting the output of austenitic stainless steel is down 10% this month, due to weak domestic demand. This follows February, where production was down 20%. Nippon expects to restore production to normal levels in April, in preparation for a 2-3 week annual maintenance shutdown in May.
  • Kazakhstan - Kazakhstan commodity Holding Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) predicts an increased demand for ferrochrome 500-thousand tons a year by the growing consumption of stainless steel. Demand for stainless steel, the company is projected to be increasing at 7% a year. (courtesy Interfax)
  • Brazil - Hundreds of Brazilian peasant farmers blocked a railroad operated by mining giant Vale on Monday, carrying on a wave of protests that started across Brazil last week. - more
  • China - China's largest stainless steel maker Taigang plans to invest 28.5 billion yuan ($4.01 billion) in a specialty steel plant fed by local coal and iron ore, its vice chairman and president said on Monday. - more
  • Zimbabwe - A new equity law passed by President Robert Mugabe to ensure the population gets a majority stake in public-owned firms will plunge Zimbabwe into deeper economic woes, analysts predicted on Monday. - more
  • France - Eramet said it will ask shareholders at an EGM on April 16 to approve motions giving the board new powers to act in defence of the company in the event of a takeover bid. - more
  • Philippines - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said investments in the Philippine mining industry have grown to over a billion dollars from 2004 to 2007. - more
  • United States - Arcos Industries LLC has introduced the bare-wire and covered-electrode versions of Arcos 59, which is intended primarily for welding in corrosive environments such as chemical processing facilities. - more
  • Hedge Funds - The hedge-fund industry is reeling from its worst crisis in a decade as banks are now demanding more money pledged to support outstanding loans even when the investment is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. - more

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.25/lb . Cancelled warrants updated
  • Bloomberg - more

  Haywood Securities Metals & Mining - pdf here

  Standard Bank Market Commentary - here

  World Bank Commodity Markets Review - pdf here

  Commodity Comments

  • Courtesy Dow Jones - The recent strong rally in nickel prices was due to speculative buying rather than any fundamental change, Li Xiaobo, general manager of China's largest stainless steel producer by output Taiyuan Iron & Steel (Group) Co., said Monday. - more
  • Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - Long-dated base metals prices remain too low, leaving further bullish gains in sight for this end of the curve, says Deutsche Bank.....LME base metals are under pressure from short-term traders looking to reduce risk, said a broker, especially given recession fears triggered by February's U.S. payroll figures, the worst in five years. While some market longs have been liquidating positions in preparation for the markets' next upside bull run, index rolls have also added to bearish sentiment Monday, with lending seen across the complex, the broker said. ....Talk of a large fund liquidating some big positions, while spot gold breaks key support at $970/troy ounce, leave base metals open to further downside, says a London trader.....Recent moves higher in the base metals complex "are not sustainable given both the spreading credit crisis and the increasingly dire US macro backdrop," says MF Global. The selloff in metals so far Monday has been modest at best given the recent gains, it says, "and although we may even start to recover over the course of the day, we again would advise caution about buying the dips here."

  News Nuggets

  • Japan - Nisshin Steel Co., Japan's third- biggest stainless steelmaker, raised prices by as much as 10 percent to cover costs for fuel, iron ore and other materials. - more
  • China - It is reported that China's fast economic development continuously has a rising demand for stainless steel and its stainless steel industry has showed a sign of overcapacity with the production capacity overgrowing the demand. - more
  • China - In a review of Chinese nickel pig iron industry developments in terms of production output as well as cost analysis in 2008, recoverable nickel from nickel pig iron will be 110,000 tonnes up by 29.4%YoY from 85,000 tonnes in 2007. - more
  • Australia - The aggregate value of mining services sector stocks increased by about 40 per cent in the 12 months to March 5, 2008, while the benchmark All Ordinaries Index slipped one per cent during the period, according to Ord Minnett senior research analyst John Lawlor. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 54 tonnes = 47,394 tonnes ( 0.90% - 426 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 46,968 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 264500-269000 RMB/t, plus 1000  (charts)
Weekend Update, March 8, 9
  The Federal Government says competition from the mining industry has led to a shortage of crew members for its Collins-class submarines. - more

  Worse to come in April, say players. Commodity prices have gone through the roof in the last three months with the sharpest increase seen in raw material prices for steel. - more

  Higher production costs among Chinese producers for pig iron with nickel content have lifted the minimum tolerable nickel price level for them to sustain operations to $20,000/mt in 2008 from $15,000/mt in 2007, Xu Aidong, an analyst from state-owned Beijing Antaike Information Development said Friday in a statement. - more

  Merrill Lynch remains positive on the outlook for the metals, mining and steel sector and has revised all of its commodity price assumptions, leading to earnings forecast upgrades of up to 88 pct, market sources said.....Merrill Lynch said that short term, it believes Chinese nickel in pig-iron production costs are about 10-12 usd/lb and that this marginal price puts a floor under the nickel price. - more

  (excerpt) For example, nickel and zinc prices gained the most among metals recently — rising 17 percent and 11 percent, respectively, in just seven days ending Tuesday. Yet they have the weakest fundamentals, the analysts said. Without a recovery in the U.S. and Asian stainless steel markets, the analysts see no reason why nickel’s price should be soaring. - more

  Bits and Pieces

  • South African power utility Eskom's 12 coal-fired power stations have at least five days of coal supply, the state-owned group said on Saturday. - more
  • Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, facing elections this month, has approved legislation ensuring the country's black population gets a majority stake in public-owned firms, a state newspaper reported Sunday.....Multinational firms that may be affected by the new policy include Barclays Bank, Bindura Nickel Corporation and mining giant Rio Zim. - more
  • According to steel price monitoring on markets of 30 provinces and cities made by the National Development & Reform Commission, China's steel product prices continued slight increase in February 2008 with the major varieties averaging CNY 5095 per ton up by 2.60%MoM or 25.63%YoY. - China Securities Journal
  • FOR some people the name Glencore conjures up images of shadowy commodity traders in Zug, Switzerland, exerting control over metals prices around the globe. - more
  • The presidents of Colombia and Ecuador say they have resolved a dispute sparked by a Colombian attack on a rebel base inside Ecuador last week. - more

  National Mining Association Mining Week - pdf here

  NACE annual convention, CORROSION 2008, will be held March 16th thru the 20th in New Orleans, Louisiana. Site sponsor Duralloy will be there, along with some companies you occasionally will see mentioned on this site like Allegheny Technologies Inc., Outokumpu Stainless, Valbruna Stainless, ThyssenKrupp, and approximately 350 others. More information here

Friday, March 7
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $15.05/lb 3 month buyer - $15.14/lb (27.12% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 133 to 8,536. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - minus 108 tonnes from Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, no inbound shipments recorded
  • Nickel traders were not to be denied today. The trading price soared in early trading as the dollar slumped to yet another record low. Then the dismal U.S. employment figures were released, the dollar bounced, and nickel slumped. But in PM trading, the inflationary pressure pushed the price back up. By the end of trading, three month nickel closed at $15.13/lb ($33,350/tonne) For the week, three month nickel ended 6.1% higher than last Friday, and traded 27.04% higher than it ended the year 2007. The price remains 8.6% lower than the average annual 2007 nickel price for 2007 and 37.42% higher than the 2006 average.
  • Closing Metals Report - more
  • Have a restful and safe weekend!

  March Monthly Moly Letter - pdf here

  More Commodity Comments

  • Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - After initially holding steady and trending higher as the dollar hit fresh lows against the euro, base and precious metals have come under pressure. Meanwhile there has been choppy price action due to computer-generated or black box moves via electronic platforms, which has many traders sitting it out on the sidelines, says a trader.
  • Copyright/courtesy MarketWatch - "Turn out the lights the party's over," wrote Joseph Brusuelas, U.S. chief economist for IDEAglobal. "We are in a recession." (after the Labor Department reported that the economy lost 63,000 jobs in February)
  • Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - The dollar recovered strongly versus the euro Friday after earlier in the session sinking to a record low on the back of a big decline in U.S. non-farm payrolls....."We're kind of flagging a bit on the day, with the euro now trading below its closing level from Thursday," said Tom Fitzpatrick, global head of currency strategy at Citigroup. He said this suggests the euro probably won't re-test its all-time high for the rest of the trading session."

  More Bits and Pieces

  • Congo - At least one miner was reportedly shot dead and 30 others injured as police tried to evict them from an old quarry. - more
  • China - China's top nickel refiner, Jinchuan Group Ltd, plans to keep raising nickel output and may end up with a small stake in an Australian miner through shares Jinchuan owns in a firm involved in a merger plan, Jinchuan Vice Chairman Yang Zhiqiang said on Friday. - more
  • Canada - Rio Tinto CEO Tom Albanese - Toronto PDAC Speech - Strong Markets, Big Challenges - more
  • Economist - good argument for the decoupling theory - here

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.09/lb , while currently on the slide after rising by around $1000/tonne earlier in the trading day.
  • Bloomberg - more

  Standard Bank Market Comment - here

  Behre Dolbear Global Mining News - pdf here

  Commodity Comments

  • Moneyweb - Prices for commodities, metals and also listed resources stocks are becoming increasingly volatile, with risk to the downside, with no real classification on the timeframe. - more
  • Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones - "JP Morgan expects the next 5% move in the base metals to be down, "but the following 10% move is considerably less clear." Sees LME copper as a buy towards $7,500/metric ton, with LME aluminum good value back at $2,800/ton. Remains "quite bearish" of zinc, sees nickel rally petering out, with $35,000/ton a reasonable selling point considering stocks are close to 10 year highs and substitution pressures feature."....."Base metals hold steady despite a bleak US jobs data which should imply decreasing demand for industrial metals, says a trader."......"Metals, as a hard asset, are benefiting from inflation concerns, says JP Morgan, "and the more that the Fed signals to the market that it is prepared to underwrite growth at the expense of medium term inflation risk, the more of a bid will be placed into the metals markets, notwithstanding the obvious concerns around demand."

  Bits and Pieces

  • China - Xiangtan police raid ten illegal ferro-nickel iron refineries on February 25th, and shut them down due to excessive pollution.
  • China -  Report dated 3/3 in Chinese media states laterite nickel ore stockpiles at Chinese ports rose from around 1 million tons in January to around 6 million tons by the end of February.
  • Canada - Canada's booming mining sector, which is growing at twice the rate of the economy, expects a shortfall of 92,000 workers in the next decade as industry wages rise 66% more than the average increase for all other sectors, according to new research. - more
  • India - Tension gripped Kalinga Nagar industrial area of Jajpur district today following a mishap in the ferrochrome unit of Jindal stainless steel limited premises, in which one person was killed and at least eight others sustained burn injuries - more
  • Russia (Kommersant) - If Russia's United Company Rusal's takeover of miner OAO Norilsk Nickel fails, the company responsible will have to pay the other a fine of $300 million, according to two unnamed sources close to deal.
  • South Korea - (Yieh) POSCO, the leading steel manufacturer in South Korea has announced that it will be ready to increases stainless steel prices by at least 7 percent in mid-March when nickel price has rising sharp lately. On average, hot rolled & cold rolled steel will increased by nearly USD265/ton .
  • Japan - (Yieh) According to the report, Japan imported 10,278 tons of stainless steel in January, which decreased by 63.4 percent year-on-year, and increasing by 9.8 percent compared to last month.
  • Malaysia - Spain's Acerinox and Japan's Nisshin Steel have decided, after having carried out a feasibility study and considering various alternatives, to build a new stainless steel production plant in Malaysia, Acerinox said Thursday. - more
  • Philippines - New People's Army (NPA) rebels stormed another mining company in Compostela Valley, disarmed its guards, and burned some mining equipment, police and military officials said Friday. - more
  • Reuters - Merrill Lynch has raised its forecasts for contract prices of coal for power plants and steel mills in 2008, predicting that prices will jump by as much as 200 percent, after recent supply disruptions resulted in a severe global shortage. - more
  • United States - US Department of Commerce’s report, US imported 81,462 tons of stainless steel products in January, increasing by 11%, compared to 73,415 tons in December 2007. However, the stainless steel import dropped by 12%, compared to January 2007.
  • China - The export price of Chinese-origin ferromolybdenum has held firm at $79-80/kg CIF Rotterdam this week, unchanged from a week ago, amid thin trade, industry sources said Friday. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 108 tonnes = 47,448 tonnes (1.01% - 480 tonnes cancelled warrants/  46,968 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 263500-268000 RMB/t, minus 2750   (charts)
Thursday, March 6
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $15.08/lb 3 month buyer - $15.24/lb (27.96% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 241 to 8,403. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - plus 18 tonnes into Busan, South Korea warehouse, plus 30 tonnes into Gothenburg, Sweden warehouse, minus 84 tonnes from Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse
  • Today's Headlines recording new record highs - "Gold Jumps to Record in London as Dollar Slumps to Record Low" - "Copper sets record" - "Oil Prices Spike to Record High" - "Silver strikes 27-year high on record-low dollar" and finally "US home foreclosures hit record high". And if those weren't galling enough "Record-breaking year as Forbes lists 50 billionaires under the age of 40". Then there was the piece in the London Times this morning about a potential world food crisis pending here. China reported that it might witness an "Insufficient Corn Supply in 2008". And Macquarie is reporting today that Chile is now worried about power shortages. In Australia, Tropical Storm ophelia has made a turn toward landfall more. Rebel group FARC retaliated against a weekend attack that killed one of their top leaders, and bombed a Colombian pipeline today, adding more tension to the Colombia-Venezuela-Ecuador stand-off. Netherlands raised its terrorist threat level to "substantial" today as leaders prepare for the release of an anti-Muslim film "Fitna", by extremists in that country. Back in London, investors jumped into a profit taking mode late in the trading day, with nearly all precious and base metals down from their early morning and in some cases, incredibly bullish beginnings. Nickel was up over $1300/tonne early on, but ended the day at $14.88/lb ($32,800/tonne). Cash nickel came very close to breaking into the $16/lb range today, according to two indicators we monitor. Is it Friday, yet? We'd go home and prepare for this pending food crisis by planting some potatoes, except the Global Warming Theory hasn't quite made its way to the middle of the US yet!! 
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  GFMS Metal Market Analysis - Nickel - here

  American Stainless Market Analysis - pdf here

  Metals - Base metals off peaks on profit taking, worries over demand outlook

  • Base metals came off earlier peaks along with gold and oil amid concerns that the slowing down in the global economy will eventually bite into demand. - more

  Commodity Comments

  • Courtesy/copyright Dow Jones - "Precious metals slip on long liquidation in line with broader profit taking across commodities, says BNP Paribas analyst David Thurtell. "These commodities had a really good run over a number of weeks. I don't think there's value there anymore except for aluminum and tin."
  • Courtesy/copyright Dow Jones - ""It looks like heavy profit-taking," says Jim Steel, metals analyst with HSBC, pointing out this occurred despite a stronger euro that normally supports metals.
  • Courtesy/copyright Reuters - ""Incredibly, the fact that we are skirting with recession here in the U.S. -- the world's largest economy and a driving force behind many emerging markets -- does not seem to be figuring into this calculus at all," analyst Edward Meir at MF Global said in a note....."The market is looking at rising inflation," said Ashok Shah chief investment officer at fund manager London & Capital."....(analyst Daniel Hynes at Merrill Lynch) "It also reflects the bigger issue of surging investment into the commodity markets as investors seek refuge from weak equity and bond markets, rising inflation and a weak US dollar."

  More Bits and Pieces

  • China - Slowing metals demand from a stalled U.S. economy will be more than offset by the voracious needs of China, says the head of Rio Tinto PLC, who predicted strong Chinese demand for raw materials could persist for decades. - more
  • South Africa - Efforts to overcome South Africa's ongoing electricity crisis must not endanger jobs or economic growth, President Thabo Mbeki said on Thursday. - more
  • South Africa - The government will allow the country's mines to increase power consumption to 95% of their normal use from 90% currently, a spokesman for the Department of Minerals and Energy said. - more
  • Europe - The euro hit fresh all-time highs versus the sterling and greenback on Thursday in New York. Traders weighed the European Central Bank holding its interest rate steady at 4 percent, citing inflation fighting as its primary focus. - more

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.04/lb after trading up by $.80/lb earlier in the trading day.
  • Bloomberg - more
  • Reuters - more

  Brook Hunt Monthly Nickel Report - here

  Standard Bank Weekly Commodity Research - pdf here

  Standard Bank Market Commentary - here

  LME Nickel At 8-Month High On Commodity-Wide Buying

  • London Metal Exchange nickel prices are trading at an eight month high, as commodity wide buying and an ongoing nickel mine strike in Colombia provide the impetus for traders to buy the metal, market participants said. - more

  Commodity Comments

  • Courtesy Dow Jones - 'External' rather fundamental drivers are causing the short-term gains in base metals, notes UBS. Says Wednesday's option expiry has removed a lot of "gamma" from the market and this will probably allow base metals to post bigger moves, if that is possible. Says the metals are vulnerable to another reversal in risk appetite as most of the vulnerable shorts have bought what they need and the fast money is now long across most of the market."
  • Courtesy The Guardian - Regardless of price, stainless steel makers cannot do without ferrochrome. "The reason it's stainless is the chrome," said Jason Kaplan, stainless steel specialist with industry consultants CRU. "Without chrome there is no stainless. There is no substitute." ....What will happen is, if people can't afford stainless steel they will go to another product," said Peter Fish, managing director of UK-based steel consultancy MEPS. Customers reacted to a huge surge in nickel prices last year by choosing low-nickel types of steel, but there is no such thing as chrome-free stainless. "They can't do internal substitution as they did in the past," Fish said. "Substitution is likely to come from other materials such as aluminium or plastics."
  • Courtesy Financial Post - "Base metals, precious metals, grains, oil and even orange juice prices are soaring to record highs, despite a steady drumroll of grim economic news emanating from the United States. Ten years ago this situation would have been unthinkable, says Patricia Mohr, a commodities expert with Scotiabank. "It is a story about a changing global environment," says Ms. Mohr. "Things are not proceeding the way they might have 10 years ago."
  • Courtesy Dow Jones - ""It's just commodity frenzy," Bill O'Neill, a principal with LOGIC Advisors says."

  Courtesy Tex Report (dated Monday)

  • According to the data released by ICDA ( The International Chrome Development Association ), the world output of low carbon ferro-chrome in 2007 came to 627,000 tons, having decreased by 4.9% from that in 2006. In addition to a shortage of ferro-chrome, Samancor Chrome of South Africa has had the explosive accident at the plant to produce IC-3 grade ferro-chrome and, consequently, a short supply of low carbon ferro-chrome, including medium carbon ferro-chrome, is now emerging. Therefore, special steel companies, having decided to use IC-3 grade ferro-chrome ( medium carbon material ), have to face a crisis to decrease their production of special steels. Price of low carbon ferro-chrome with carbon 0.1% max. has currently risen up to US$3.80 - 3.90 per lb. of Cr CIF Japan without reaching a level of US$4.00 CIF. The price of carbon 0.1% material in Europe has been already stabilized on a level of US$4.00 per lb. of Cr. Russian producers are supposed to have a delay to offer low carbon ferro-chrome for shipments to Japan in April - June quarter.

  Bits and Pieces

  • Europe - Ferrochrome jumped some 21 percent in Europe this week, as strong steelmaker demand combined with a lack of supplies to maintain a relentless 2008 uptrend, and low-carbon prices rose above the $4.00 a pound level to a new all-time high. - more
  • BDI - The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of shipping costs for commodities, climbed for a fourth consecutive day on demand for vessels to haul coal and iron ore. - more
  • Colombia - The main sticking point in the Cerro Matoso negotiations appear to be the use of temporary workers, instead of company permanent workers. This is not a problem exclusive to Colombia, nor to BHP. Unions worldwide see the use of temporary or contract workers as a way of eliminating union membership, and paying workers less. BHP has filed a legal challenge in Chile, where it has been ordered to make 5,000 of the 30,000 subcontractors at its Codelco copper mine permanent under a new Chile law. This was the primary reason for a 6 week strike held at Codelco in the summer of last year, and is an ongoing issue - protest and bomb threat at Codelco yesterday here
  • Europe - The major stainless steel makers, such as Thyssenkrupp and Arcelor Mittal,worried that stainless steel output might decrease due to the decrease in ferrochromium output which is resulted from power shortage in South Africa. Steel traders forecasted that the stainless steel price is very likely to rise further as the chrome price keeps going up.  (courtesy Yieh)
  • Malaysia - Acerinox SA said it and Nisshin Steel Co have agreed to build a new stainless steel plant in Johor Bahru, Malaysia for a total estimated investment of 1.5 bln usd. - more
  • Prime Tass - China's nickel imports rise 34% from last Dec, while Russia’s nickel exports are up 45.5% on year in January
  • India - Indian base metal futures pack was sparkling on Thursday with copper, zinc and nickel hitting contract highs on bullish global cues, a weak dollar and strong crude oil prices, analysts said. - more

  Outlook for the US Steel Market 2008 / Steel News

  • Adam Smith - AISI presentation to the CIS Metals Summit - more
  • Stand Up for Steel, a labor/management committee formed by the United Steelworkers union and its members, spent $360,000 to lobby the federal government in 2007. - more
  • The prices of hot-rolled and cold-rolled steel coil in the US market increased Wednesday by $25 and $5/st, respectively, after the last of the mills still booking April tonnage--Steel Dynamics in Fort Wayne, Indiana--increased its price of HRC to $770/st, ex-works Indiana, according to several buyers. - more
  • Chinese experts estimate that steel prices will probably rise in April-June as Baosteel, China's flagship in iron and steel industry, decided to lift prices up to 800 yuan/ton. - more
  • Records of technical and economical indices, for China, which produced 489.240 million tonnes of crude steel in 2007 up by 15.66% YoY and 469.4463 million tonnes of pig iron up by 15.19%YoY in 2007, are as under - more
  • Growth in China's steel output will slow sharply in 2008, despite the country remaining a top producer and net seller of the strategic products, China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) officials said here on Wednesday. - more
  • It would be an understatement to say that the steel market is currently red hot. As the dynamic of stiff global competition ignites the market worldwide, this hot commodity is becoming a crucial battleground between steel-producing and consuming industrial nations. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 36 tonnes = 47,556 tonnes (0.96% - 456 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 47,100 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 267000-270000 RMB/t, plus 2500  (charts)
Wednesday, March 5
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $14.35/lb 3 month buyer - $14.45/lb (21.33% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 169 to 8,162. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - no outbound or inbound shipments recorded
  • The morning started out with nickel on the downturn, but with headlines like this one from Forbes "Forex - Euro sets new record above 1.53 usd", the negative sentiment was bound to end. And it did in afternoon trading, with nickel selling in a $.75/lb range over the trading day, falling over $1000/tonne at one point on profit taking, and yet, gaining nearly $600/tonne, when fund buyers rushed in later. When the dust had settled, three month nickel was at $15.15/lb (33,400/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more
  • Natural born enemies as best friends - amazing video here

  BNP Paribas - The Base Case - pdf here

  Commodity Comments from Today's Media

  • Bloomberg - "``People are just jumping back into commodities and the metals again on the weak dollar,'' said Donald Selkin, a director of equity research at Joseph Stevens & Co. in New York. ``Everyone has this inflation-hedge mentality.''
  • Dow Jones - "Copper futures are up sharply, along with other metals, on what appears to be fund buying, a trader says. "It seems to be a tsunami that's hitting all kinds of things," he says."
  • Reuters - "We view the current rally in nickel prices as overdone with LME nickel stocks (rising) and remaining at hefty levels while stainless steel demand ex-Europe has not posted a recovery as yet," Barclays Capital said in a note."

  More Bits & Pieces

  • Canada - Following the same move as US Steel earlier Tuesday, Cleveland-Cliffs said that it has terminated negotiations to sell its 26.8% interest in Canada's Wabush Mines joint venture to ArcelorMittal Dofasco. Cliffs entered into discussions with Dofasco in September 2007, and until Tuesday negotiations had been ongoing. - more
  • Canada - (excerpt) According to TD Newcrest metals analyst Greg Barnes, the price of nickel will be “stuck in neutral” for the next while and supplies are heading for a surplus between 2009 and 2012 due to new developments coming on stream including Vale’s Goro project in New Caledonia and BHP-Billiton’s Ravensthorpe mine in Australia. Barnes forecasts that nickel will be in short supply again by 2013. - more news from the PDAC Convention here
  • Scotia Capital China Update - "In January 2008, China’s ferromolybdenum exports dropped to only 1,068 tonnes, the lowest level since at least January 1999, when we began to track the data. For overall molybdenum trade, we calculate China imports 502 tonnes of the metal (content) and exports 2097 tonnes. The net export level of 1,595 tonnes (metal content) is lower than both November and December 2007."
  • Europe - Low carbon ferrochrome selling for over $4/lb today in European & U.S. open markets
  • India - Even as the budget proposed to increase the export duty on chrome ore and concentrate from Rs 2,000 to 3000 per tonne to restrict exports, ferrochrome and charge chrome producers warned the move may not yield desired result due to strong price of chrome ore ruling in the international market. - more
  • Russia - The Moscow Arbitration Court upheld today Onexim Group President Mikhail Prokhorov and invalidated the resolution of KM Invest BOD on the disposal of 2 percent in GMK Norilsk Nickel and 7.4 percent in Polus Zoloto, Interfax.ru reported. KM Invest has a month to appeal the resolution. - more
  • Western Australia - update on Tropical Storm Ophelia - here
  • MEPS - The MEPS - Global All Products average price jumped by approximately $US55 per tonne (7.6 percent) to a new all time high this month. - more
  • New Caledonia - Brazilian mining and metals group Vale expects to obtain the final operation license for its Goro project in the French territory of New Caledonia in June, Vale CFO Fábio Barbosa told analysts and investors on Wednesday. - more
  • Canada - World demand for steel-strengthening alloy molybdenum is expected to grow 5.8% this year, forecasts Catherine Virga of the CPM Group in New York. And with supply lagging demand, “present molybdenum prices (above $30/lb for the past 10 months) are sustainable,” she tells the annual meeting in Toronto of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada. - more

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling down by $.27/lb . After falling nearly $1000/tonne earlier, nickel is slowly recovering.
  • Bloomberg - more

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones

  • "Further short-term position exiting may be seen in the metals in coming days but at some point fundamentals should reassert themselves and attract more "sticky buying" says UBS. Says there have been good reasons why commodities have performed well this year but the strong performance has no doubt attracted some momentum-related passengers, many of whom appear to have jumped ship Tuesday."

  Sign of stainless steel overcapacity looming in China

  • Though China's fast economic development continuously has a rising demand for stainless steel, its stainless steel industry has showed a sign of overcapacity with the production capacity overgrowing the demand, said experts. - more

  S Korea's No.1 steel maker to raise stainless steel prices

  • POSCO, South Korea's leading steelmaker, said Wednesday that it will raise prices of stainless steel by 7 per cent to reflect the rising costs of nickel. Starting from March 17, the price of its hot-rolled steel will rise by 250,000 won (US$264) per ton to 3.65 million won, with that of cold-rolled steel rising to 3.92 million won from 3.67 million won per ton, the company said in a statement. - more

  Bits & Pieces

  • Taiwan - China’s Taiyuan Iron & Steel (Tisco) has announced its new price list of March for the domestic market. The company will remain its 300 series stainless steel prices unchanged, but the price of 400 series stainless steel will increase by RMB300/ton (US$42).
  • China - China's state-owned steel mills considered taking a spoiling stake in Rio Tinto to block a bid by BHP Billiton, but abandoned the plan after Aluminum Corp of China beat them to the punch, the head of the country's fourth-largest mill said on Tuesday. - more
  • Philippines - Protesters from affected communities here picketed Monday the office of BHP Billiton, their spokesperson reading a statement announcing the filing in Metro Manila of several petitions against the “legality and constitutionality “ of the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) and the Financial Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAA) under the 1995 Philippine Mining Act. - more
  • Australia - "An offer document is not expected to be posted to shareholders until late 2008, following BHP Billiton completing the necessary anti-trust and other regulatory processes," Mr Argus told an Australian Shareholders Association/ASX meeting in Melbourne. - more
  • Indonesia - PT International Nickel Indonesia, the nation's biggest producer of the metal, said it expects a two-year delay in the completion of a hydropower plant that will help the company boost output. The completion of the power plant is now expected in 2011, President Director Arif Siregar said. ``It's late from our original schedule in 2009,'' Siregar said in an interview yesterday. (thank you Rohan)
  • China - China could overtake the United States by 2025 to be the world's largest economy and is anticipated to grow to about 130% the size of the United States by 2050, said Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP.
  • New Caledonia - A seized world market of madness, a demand for constant rise and prices ever seen: 2007 were one year exceptional for the trade of nickel. - translated more
  • South Africa - ArcelorMittal South Africa's market capitalisation rocketed to a record R92 billion this week - 43 percent higher than on February 1, when the first of three price hikes took effect. - more
  • Germany - ThyssenKrupp AG's steel unit has raised steel prices by up to 100 eur per tonne effective from April 1, responding to rising raw material costs, Jost Massenberg, board member of the unit said at a steel conference in Dusseldorf.
  • India - Steel firms should not raise prices arbitrarily, Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Wednesday, as he forecast domestic demand for the commodity to grow by 14-16 per cent in the next seven years. Paswan said India would require an annual 108 million tonnes of finished steel by the fiscal year 2011/12. Demand is growing at a fast pace as the country is scaling up infrastructure to sustain high economic expansion
  • Canada - Desperately short of workers, Canada's mining industry is digging deeply for new talent. Through alliances with Canada's aboriginal community, links with the school system - right down to the elementary school level - and in-house training programs, the industry is striving to meet its staggering need for employees. - more
  • South Africa - It has already passed more than 30 years since the ferro-alloy industry of South Africa has started out on a substantial scale as the suppliers of ferro-alloys to the world market but the stable supplies of ferro-alloys from South Africa have been now put on red signal. - more
  • India - India must discourage iron ore export if it is to develop its steel industry, Minister of Steel Ram Vilas Paswan said here Wednesday. - more

  AK Steel Named One of America's Most Admired Companies

  • AK Steel has been named to Fortune magazine's 2008 listing of America's Most Admired Companies. AK Steel is one of only 11 Ohio companies on this year's Most Admired list. - more

  International Iron and Steel Institute

  • New page - From this page you can search for iron or steel production data by country, region or total production. You can search within a range of up to 10 years. - here

  Video showing a stainless steel sign being made for YouTube with laser - 7 minute video here

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - plus/minus 0 tonnes = 47,592 tonnes (1.03% - 492 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 47,100 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 264000-268000 RMB/t, minus 5000   (charts)
Tuesday, March 4
  Update - BHP's response to union allegation listed below
  • BHP media relations officer, Tracey Whitehead, returned our call after we published our afternoon update, with information regarding the school closure. Yes, BHP confirms the school did close on Friday, but strictly due to Colombia labor law, and for no other reason. According to Tracey, Colombia Labor law requires "all" company commerical and financial activities to be shut down during a labor strike, and since the school is 100% funded by the Cerro Matoso Foundation, its operations, directly tied to the company, had to be shut down also. We appreciate the clarification from BHP regarding this matter.   

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up

  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $15.06/lb 3 month buyer - $15.20/lb (27.62% higher than 12/31/07) (chart)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 115 to 7,993. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - minus 72 tonnes from Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 24 tonnes from Vlissingen, Netherlands warehouse, minus 24 tonnes from Gothenburg, Sweden warehouse
  • Dollar remained weak, while the 'conflict' between Venezuela, Ecuador and Colombia quieted down after Colombia produced evidence that Ecuador and Venezuela and the terrorist organization FARC have close ties. After listening to Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez rant and rave yesterday, calling him everything from a murderer to a mafia boss, Colombia President Alvaro Uribe announced today he would seek criminal charges against Chavez in the International Criminal Court. Back in London, profit takers took over metals trading today, with many precious and base metals selling in the red.  Nickel was trading all over the place for most of the day, first falling by about $500/tonne, then rising nearly $1000/tonne, before succumbing on kerb trading, falling nearly $1300/tonne, before recovering some. For the day, three month nickel closed at $14.90/lb ($32,840/tonne)
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Average Prices and April US Surcharges

  • Allegheny Ludlum , North American Steel, and AK Steel issued their stainless steel surcharges for April today. Using AK Steel figures, the surcharge for 304 stainless steel rose from March's $1.4121/lb to $1.4728/lb, and on 316 stainless steel, rose from March's $2.3501/lb to $2.4159/lb. Average prices for the month of February 2008, according to AK Steel..... Chrome - $1.9838/lb / Nickel - $12.6804/lb / Molybdenum - $33.35/lb / Iron - $405.00/GT We post monthly surcharges for comparison here  and detailed historical information in excel format  for those who like to make their own charts or presentations here

  DJ BHP, Union To Resume Talks To End Strike At Colombia Mine

  • Australian mining company BHP Billiton Ltd (BHP), owner of a Colombian nickel mine, will "soon" resume negotiation talks to end a strike that has entered into its sixth day, a union leader Tuesday said. - more

  Comment - Nickel Strike Update

  • According to its website - in 2003, BHP awarded an employee merit award to Luis Alberto Ponguta Gomez, Team representative at the Cerro Matoso Nickel Mine and Smelter, in Cordoba, Columbia. "Luis and his team, together with some teachers and the Mayor of Montelíbano, have led the establishment of the Centre of Municipal Education Resources, in order to make possible the training of low-income students in a single place and improve the quality of their education. Thousands of students from local primary and high schools are now accessing the Centre’s educational programs and facilities." That year, in its Health Safety Environment and Community Report for 2003, BHP claimed "We recognise the importance of assisting in the development of communities wherever we operate.....Cerro Matoso’s support for a central educational resource in Montelíbano, Colombia, enhances learning for thousands of students" According to reports by the mines union, BHP closed this educational facility on Friday, because of the union decision to strike. (report here) Since 'independent' reports are difficult to come by in the remote regions of Colombia, we contacted Tracey Whitehead, U.S. media relations officer for BHP, to get a confirmation or denial of this allegation. Tracey advised that she had no personal knowledge of any such action, but would have to check into the matter further and contact us back. As of yet, we have not received an official reply from the company.

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones

  • "...the base metal complex is trading lower, getting hit by some long liquidation and light commodity trade advisors selling following another day of falls in US equities, says a London-based trader. Adds that crude oil, agriculture and precious metals are also down. "Overall the market is nervous and a deeper correction is possible," the trader says."

  Russian ferrochrome deal to fetch a billion dollars

  • Nesis considers chrome sell-out in the most lucrative, short mining career on record - more

  S.African power crisis sharpens stainless prices

  • South Africa's power crisis isn't just driving precious metals such as gold and platinum to record highs, it is also raising the cost of a more commonplace material: stainless steel. - more

  China Commodities Weekly - Review of Chinese nickel pig iron industry and steel demand outlook in 2008

  • In this week's report, we review Chinese nickel pig iron industry developments in terms of production output as well as cost analysis. We estimate that in 2008 Chinese recoverable nickel from nickel pig iron will be 110,000t, up by 29.4% YoY from 85,000t in 2007. - more

  More Bits & Pieces

  • Interview with New PDAC President Jon G. Baird on Mining Challenges - Stan Sudol - more
  • Western Australian mining areas watching Tropical Storm Ophelia closely - here
  • World molybdenum demand is expected to grow 5.8% this year, a base metals analyst told a commodities outlook forum at the annual PDAC convention in Toronto. - more

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.12/lb . Nickel trading is having a hard time finding its footing this morning. It was down by around $500/tonne earlier, and recently traded up by $500/tonne. It has gradually retreated since, but remains in the green.
  • Bloomberg - more

  TD Bank Weekly Commodity Price report - pdf here

  Rand  Merchant Weekly Base Metal Reports - pdf here

  Canada Commodity Price Report - pdf here

  Karvy Comtrade Metals Insight - pdf here

  ABARE Australian Commodities Quarterly Report - pdf here

  China expected to continue to drive up commodity prices: Bank of Canada

  • A Bank of Canada report suggests Canada owes much of its hot commodities-driven economy and the surging dollar to China's insatiable demand. - more

  General Review Of Ferro-Chrome In 2007 And Its Outlook For New Year

  • Projects To Expand Capacity For Ferro-Chrome In South Africa Are Restricted By Shortage Of Electricity Supply - more

  Bits & Pieces

  • Norilsk Nickel, the Russian nickel producer at the centre of a takeover battle, is the first target of a new activist investor group which aims to put pressure on polluting companies and industries. - more
  • Germany's ThyssenKrupp is seeing steel orders so far in 2008 at their strongest in five years, the board member in charge of steel told Reuters on Tuesday. - more
  • China's coal supply, again, has become a bottleneck in the power supply. A report issued by the China Electricity Council (CEC) states that the coal shortage will become one of the major factors in the restriction of power supply in 2008. Before the report was released, it was believed that the shortage was a temporary issue due to the recent bad weather. - more
  • German steel flat products producer ThyssenKrupp Steel plans to increase prices further for deliveries after July 1 in the face of rising costs, Jost Massenburg, a member of the company's executive board, said Tuesday. - more
  • Italian police announced that they have seized 30 tonnes of Chinese made steel that had been contaminated by a radioactive substance. Officers seized it last week after radiation turned up in tests on metal scraps at companies across Italy that had used part of the shipment. - more
  • The energy crisis predicted years ago has had unprecedented effects - plunging most parts of the country into darkness, and impacting all industries, including the resources sector, with mining houses having to halt operations and report significant production losses. - more
  • Presentation by Tav Morgan, Deputy General Director, Member of the Management Board of MMC Norilsk Nickel, at BMO Global Metals & Mining Conference  - pdf here
  • miningmx.com reported that ferrochrome prices will increase during 2008, driven by a 9% increase in demand and an expected shortfall in supply from South Africa. Ferrochrome prices reached a record USD 1.21 per short tonne in the Q1 of 2008. - more

  Courtesy AISI - This Week's Raw Steel Production

  • In the week ending March 1, 2008, domestic raw steel production was 2,153,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 90.3 percent. Production was 2,126,000 tons in the week ending March 1, 2007, while the capability utilization then was 89.5 percent. The current week production represents a 1.2 percent decrease from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending March 1, 2008 is down 0.2 percent from the previous week ending February 23, 2008 when production was 2,158,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 90.5 percent.

  PDAC: Mirabela advances on monster nickel project

  • Big nickel mines don't come around very often. But TSX-listed Mirabela Nickel Inc. continues to make solid progress with its Santa Rita project in Brazil, with production expected in the middle of next year. Santa Rita is the biggest greenfield nickel project in the world -- and by a large margin. Mirabela now has 508,000 tonnes of nickel (or 1.12 billion pounds) in reserves, and it could get a lot bigger with more drilling. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 120 tonnes = 47,592 tonnes (0.96% - 456 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 47,136 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 270000-272000 RMB/t, plus 11,750  (charts)
Monday, March 3
  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Official LME nickel closing prices - cash - $14.46/lb 3 month buyer - $14.57/lb (22.33% higher than 12/31/07) (chart) (official prices in contango again)
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 266 to 7,878. (chart)
  • LME nickel inventories - minus 102 tonnes from Rotterdam, Netherlands warehouse, minus 60 tonnes from Baltimore, MD, USA warehouse
  • Bloomberg's headline - "Dollar Falls to Record Against Euro as Manufacturing Contracts". More related to metals - "Spending on U.S. building projects in January fell by the most in 14 years as the housing slump worsened and construction slowed on hotels and highways." another Bloomberg headline - "Chavez Orders Tanks to Colombia Border, Raises Risks" Colombia media was far more concerned with the armies of Venezuela and Ecuador massing on their borders than the strike at BHP's Cerro Matoso nickel mine today, thus we have little updated news about the strike. This military situation could get very sticky. It is a well known fact that Chavez looks upon the Bush administration as the Evil Empire, but he holds even harder feelings toward Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who is the US' closest ally in the region. While most experts believe this is nothing more than "sabre rattling", the situation, that began with a military incursion by Colombian military forces into Ecuador territory to attack encamped rebel  FARC guerilla's, is very tense.
  • MF Global raised nickel resistance from $31,000 to $34,500 this morning, and the market came remarkably close to testing the new level in its first day. At its traded high point today, $34,050/tonne, nickel was up 9.5%. It backed off at the 4th ring, and this decline continued into kerb trading. But for the day, all base and precious metals continued their venture into the green. Three month nickel ended trading at $15.06/lb ($33,200/tonne) (3 month nickel is now trading at 26.45% higher than it started the year at)
  • Closing Metals Report - more

  Nickel rises over 5 pct on supply fears, investor demand, weak dollar

  • Nickel surged more than 5 pct to hit its highest price since mid-November last year on fears of lower supply and as fund money continued to favour the commodity complex. - more

  Copyright/courtesy Dow Jones

  • Standard Chartered analyst Dan Smith. "A weaker US dollar is the key element that is continuing to see fund inflows into commodities," Smith says. But he says some high prices such as those of zinc and nickel are not fundamentally supported, so they are vulnerable to a correction later in the year. Says nickel could level-out around $35,000/ton, but current strike at BHP Billiton in Colombia aids the upside.
  • "LME nickel has benefited from strong technicals amid commodities awash with fresh new-month fund allocation, says one LME trader. "Technical CTA's saw a trade in nickel, (with) $25,000/metric ton a solid support," the trader says. Says nickel looks to have been undervalued based on moves in other base metals "so [it] was a sensible risk/reward trade." Says last week's strike at a BHP mine in Colombia triggered the gains. "As soon as it started everyone jumped on the band wagon."

  S.Africa's Merafe declares ferrochrome force majeure

  • South Africa's Merafe Resources Ltd said on Monday it declared force majeure on ferrochrome production at its chrome venture with Xstrata Plc due to the country's power crisis. - more

  Asian stainless steel prices in pickle thanks to nickel

  • (comment) Last week we advised that Korean stainless steel wire producers had raised their prices approximately 5% due to increases in ferrochrome and iron ore. Typically these prices are announced at the end of the month, but were effective immediately upon their Tuesday announcement. We are now being advised, by at least one Taiwanese screw manufacturer, that orders placed "based on these new prices" have been refused, and screw producers are being advised with nickel prices having increased so dramatically over the last few days, Korean stainless steel producers will be increasing prices again either today or tomorrow. Typically, other stainless steel producers in the Asian region will follow suit.

  More Bits and Pieces

  • The conservative think-tank – the Fraser Institute – has released its annual Survey of Mining Companies, on the most attractive jurisdictions for mineral investment. This year’s top three are Quebec, Nevada and Finland. - more
  • While the power crunch has forced the Xstrata-Merafe Resources joint-venture (JV) to push back its plans to double the capacity of its Project Lion ferrochrome smelter, the black-owned company called on embattled Eskom to declare "force majeure" on new big projects recently announced, as it did not have the required capacity. - more
  • JSE-listed ferrochrome producer Merafe Resources was studying the economic feasibility of cogenerating 40MW of electrical power to ease its energy squeeze, CEO Steve Phiri said on Monday. - more
  • Bold takeover bids from big global miners - Timeline - more
  • GMK Norilsk Nickel has set to preparing the merger with Gazmetall holding of Alisher Usmanov in an effort to oppose the hostile takeover by Rusal. - more
  • India - Praveen singh, research analyst, Sharekhan said (Mar. 03, 2008) that there was choppy trading seen in base metal market on back of weak equity market and euro prices. Base metal market is running ahead of fundamentals, he added.
  • On July 26, 2007, the U.S. Department of Commerce (the Department) published a notice of initiation of an administrative review of the antidumping duty order on carbon and alloy seamless standard, line, and pressure pipe (over 4 1/2 inches) from Japan. The review covers four manufacturers/exporters: JFE Steel Corporation; Nippon Steel Corporation; NKK Tubes; and Sumitomo Metal Industries, Ltd. The period of review (POR) is June 1, 2006, through May 31, 2007. Following the receipt of a certification of no shipments from all four respondents, we notified the domestic interested party of the Department's intent to rescind this review and provided an opportunity to comment on the rescission. We received no comments. Therefore, we are rescinding this administrative review.
  • OAO Mechel, Russian billionaire Igor Zyuzin's coal and steel company, may make an offer for Oriel Resources Plc, a London-based owner of chrome and nickel mines in Kazakhstan. - more

  Advance Notice of a Portion of a Meeting under Expedited Procedures - more (i.e US Fed to have emergency meeting today)

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

  • Indications at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel selling up by $.45/lb . As predicted by MF Global, if nickel closed above its $31,000/tonne resistance on two consecutive days, the price cold potentially go much higher. On Thursday and Friday, it did close above this level, so MF Global now places $34,500/tonne as the new resistance, and $31,000/tonne goes from resistance to support in a day. Nothing in the way of strike news out of Cerro Matoso in Colombia.  Troops from neighboring Ecuador and Venezuela are massing troops on Colombia's border after a minor cross border incursion by Colombian troops over the weekend.
  • Bloomberg - more
  • Reuters - more

  Haywood Securities Metals & Mining Weekly - pdf here

  SMM Weekly Survey of Chinese Metals Analysts

  • Of 27 responding, 21 (77%) felt the trade price in Shanghai would increase this week, while the remaining 6 (22%) felt the price would end about teh same as it started the week. None felt the price of nickel would fall.

  Barnes forecast nickel surplus between 2009 and 2012

  • TD Newcrest metals analysts Greg Barnes suggests that as nickel heads for surplus, mining projects may be placed the back burner. - more

  Ferrochrome prices to rise beyond Q1 record

  • Ferrochrome prices will increase during 2008, driven by a nine percent increase in demand and an expected shortfall in supply from South Africa, said Merafe Resources, the joint venture partner in Xstrata’s South African ferrochrome business. - more

  Ferritic Stainless Steel Prices at Record Levels

  • The rising cost of ferro chrome is pushing transaction prices for ferritic grades ever upwards. The MEPS North American and Asian average transaction values for type 430 cold rolled coil are at all time highs this month. Further substantial increases are expected in all regions of the world in March. - more

  Bits and Pieces

  • In a latest China Iron and Steel Association meeting on February 17th 2008, Mr Qi Xiangdong deputy secretary general made a market focused report on behalf of the association, which includes below analysis on steel supply and demand relation this year. - more
  • The construction of a Goro Nickel mine waste disposal pipe in New Caledonia is still on hold amid opposition by environmental and Kanak activists. - more
  • Xstrata Resources and its partner in South African ferrochrome Merafe Resources see production of the key stainless steel ingredient falling because of the power crisis in that country, which has also put on ice a 360,000 tonne expansion plan. - more
  • Environment Secretary Lito Atienza on Friday ordered officials of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in Central Luzon to confiscate $4 million worth of nickel allegedly illegally mined by a mining firm here. - more
  • Taiwan’s Yieh United Steel Corp. (Yusco) is expected to raise its stainless steel price list gain in March if nickel prices continue to rise. - more
  • To improve its service to French stainless steel customers, and in line with its strategy to increase sales to end- users and project customers, project house Outokumpu will expand its stock and processing capability in France. - more
  • Brazil's Vale, the world's largest iron ore exporter, still wants to acquire Swiss miner Xstrata, but negotiations with its largest shareholder, Swiss commodities trader Glencore, may present barriers to its buyout efforts, Vale chief executive Roger Agnelli told investors on a conference call Friday. - more
  • BMO Capital Markets Institutional Client Conference Call for February 25, 2008 by Don Coxe - pdf here
  • LCH.Clearnet Ltd has, after consultation with LME, decided to change the London SPAN margin parameters for the contracts marked in bold and italic on the attached document. These changes will be made effective from the close of business on Tuesday 04 March 2008 and will be reflected in margin calls on Wednesday 05 March 2008. - more
  • THE chief executive of Xstrata, Mick Davis, was last night reluctant to discuss details of a potential $US90 billion ($96 billion) offer from Brazilian miner Vale as he faced the first public questioning about the deal. - more

  Beginning LME nickel inventory / Overnight Shanghai closing price

  •   London Metal Exchange - minus 162 tonnes = 47,712 tonnes (0.97% - 462 tonnes cancelled warrants/ 47,250 net stock level) (charts)
  •   Shanghai Jinchuan nickel - 258500-260000 RMB/t, plus 3250  (charts)
Saturday, Sunday March 1, 2 (updated throughout weekend)
  It's Brazil Versus China As the Iron Man Protects Its Pricing Power
  • Joshua Schneyer reports on the territorial ambitions of mining giant Vale as it seeks to combat the growing clout of the People's Republic in the steel market - more

  Recognizing A Stroke (remember the first 3 letters - S-T-R)

  • Doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:
  • S - Ask the individual to SMILE.
  • T - Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (i.e. It is sunny out today)
  • R - Ask him/her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.
  • More and more

  Commodity markets defy global downturn

  • The powerful rally in commodity markets is defying a global economic slowdown, because investors are fleeing battered stock and bond markets and the impact of their cash is being amplified by new, easier ways to buy and sell raw materials. - more

  Bits and Pieces

  • China's refined nickel imports jumps 31.8 pct year-on-year in January
  • Excess nickel on the world market in 2007 amounted to 107.9 thousand tons because of the fall in consumption and production growth. Consumption of nickel for the year dropped by 5.7% to 1.3 million tons. Production last year increased by 5.1% compared with 2006, to 1.43 million tons. Demand for this non-ferrous metal in China increased by 29% in 2007, in Japan - fell by 9% in the United States - 7%, in Germany - at 8.5%.
  • Metal Bulletin reports that there is a strong possibility that Xstrata will only be able to deliver around 85% of the ferro-chrome it has contracted in the second quarter as a result of power shortages in South Africa, according to market participants.
  • Foes of a proposed nickel and copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula have filed another legal challenge. Opponents sued the Michigan Department of Natural Resources on Thursday.
  • According to Zhang Ronghai, a vice manager of Baosteel Group’s raw material purchase department, Baosteel will expand the purchase of Chrome resources in Sichuan Province. He said this on the ceremony held for Baosteel Group and Sichuan Mianzhu External Trade Company signing a high carbon ferro chrome deal, and a cooperation agreement of three years. ...Besides, Jiannanchun Group has two wholly owned metallurgic companies, with an annual production of 100,000 tons or so. “High carbon ferro chrome from Sichuan takes nearly half of the whole supply.” Zhang said. The needed high carbon ferro chrome of Baosteel Group comes from both domestic and abroad, with the former taking 65%, and the later 35%. Baosteel began stainless steel melting from 2004, and the demand continues to rise gradually. Baosteel Group is estimated to have a stainless steel output of 1.35 million tons in 2008, and therefore the demand for high carbon ferro chrome will reach 450,000 tons.
  • Analysis of Chinese ferroalloy exports in 2007 China exported 3.209 million tonnes of ferroalloys in 2007 to 84 countries. - more
  • India - "The Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, in his budget speech said, “in order to conserve chrome ore and make it available for value-added manufacture in India, I propose to increase the export duty from Rs 2,000 per tonne to Rs 3,000 per tonne.”
  • India - The steel industry though disappointed that no curbs were imposed on iron ore exports welcomed excise duty cuts in general and said it stood to benefit the industry indirectly.

  The sling is organized against the pipe of Goro Nickel (before you disregard this movement, consider one statement made - "One arrives at a moment when, if people must die for their environment, they will die..")

  • After a meeting with the haussaire yesterday morning, the militants opposed to the pipe effluent of Goro Nickel assemble a notch. Joined together for the first time under the same banner, they promise outward journey with the conflict if work of the conduit were to begin again.- translated article here

  Vale says Xstrata would be 'nice fit,' bid depends on Glencore

  • Brazil's Vale, the world's largest iron ore exporter, still wants to acquire Swiss miner Xstrata, but negotiations with its largest shareholder, Swiss commodities trader Glencore, may present barriers to its buyout efforts, Vale chief executive Roger Agnelli told investors on a conference call Friday. - more

  US flat-rolled steel prices increase as April order books fill up

  • Lead times for both hot-rolled and cold-rolled coil have pushed well into April, with some mills now preparing to open their May spot-market order books. - more

  $4-million illegal nickel ore seized from company (Bootleg nickel anyone?)

  • About 200,000 metric tons of nickel ore worth about $4 million was confiscated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for not having the proper documents for shipment. - more

  China opposes US dual probe into steel pipes

  • China strongly opposed the US decision to launch dual trade investigations into its steel tubes, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said late on Friday. The US Department of Commerce decided on February 20 to initiate anti-subsidy and anti-dumping probe into imports of circular welded austenitic stainless pressure pipes from China. - more

  Steel Prices May Rise Despite Declining Demand

  • Businesses that use steel for construction and other projects will continue to face high prices during the first half of 2008, despite a continued decline in housing and automobile demand that theoretically should begin to bring prices down. - more

  Vale reports 50% increase in profit; Higher nickel prices helped company make $11.94B in 2007

  • The average nickel price fetched by Vale Inco and its Brazilian parent company rose 54 per cent in 2007 compared to the previous year. - more

  Indonesia offers forests for mining industry

  • Indonesian Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro has told hundreds of mining investors they would soon be able to apply to operate in productive as well as protected forests, local press said Saturday. - more

  China Manufacturing Quickens as Production Resumes

  • Manufacturing activity in China, the world's fastest-growing major economy, quickened in February as companies resumed production after the nation's worst snowstorms in half a century. - more

  New rules offer more protection to mine workers exposed to asbestos

  • The Federal Mine Safety Health Administration announced late Friday it has raised protections for mine workers who may be exposed to asbestos, including steelworkers at Minnesota iron ore mines and taconite processing plants. - more

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

  1999 Finish report on "Available Techniques in Nickel Production" - pdf here

  National Mining Association Mining Week - pdf here


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

Date

LME Stock Level +

Cancelled Warrants

Net Stock Level

Official Cash Close *

Official 3 months close *

Day's Ending *

3-31

49,866

1.95%

48,894

$13.52

$13.68

$13.49

3-28

49,992

2.00%

48,990

$14.12

$14.28

$13.81

3-27

49,332

2.16%

48,264

$13.59

$13.69

$14.24

3-26

48,582

1.49%

47,856

$13.17

$13.31

$13.51

3-25

47,622

1.32%

46,992

$13.45

$13.49

$13.38

3-20

47,802

1.43%

47,118

$12.83

$12.92

$12.95

3-19

47,568

0.73%

47,220

$13.43

$13.51

$13.27

3-18

47,286

0.71%

46,950

$13.68

$13.72

$13.61

3-17

46,866

0.69%

46,542

$14.15

$14.24

$13.34

3-14

47,040

0.99%

46,572

$14.79

$14.95

$14.76

3-13

47,172

1.09%

46,656

$14.64

$14.76

$14.58

3-12

47,226

1.09%

46,710

$14.23

$14.30

$14.45

3-11

47,298

1.05%

46,800

$14.58

$14.65

$14.29

3-10

47,394

0.90%

46,968

$14.79

$14.88

$14.72

3-7

47,448

1.01%

46,968

$15.05

$15.14

$15.13

3-6

47,556

0.96%

47,100

$15.08

$15.24

$14.88

3-5

47,592

1.03%

47,100

$14.35

$14.45

$15.15

3-4

47,592

0.96%

47,136

$15.06

$15.20

$14.90

3-3

47,712

0.97%

47,250

$14.46

$14.57

$15.06

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


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


All prices, unless marked official closing prices, are indications only of LME 3 month buyer traded prices and courtesy newswire services. To understand what our prices mean, see "A Guide To LME Trading"...pdf here or "The ABCs of a Metals Exchange" ...pdf here (Molybdenum prices are for molybdenum oxide, an ingredient and major price factor in 316 stainless) (all ton listings are metric tons = 2204.622 pounds ) Updated daily before 8 am CST and before 1 pm CST weekdays, with some weekend updates - Disclaimer Daily closing price listed uses afternoon kerb trading price. Original content and opinions copyright www.estainlesssteel.com


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Updated Weekly
1/27 Market Prices

Ferromolybdenum (65-70%)
$36.25/lb
 

Moly Oxide (>51%)
$33.40/lb
 

Ferrochrome (60-65%)
$1.70/lb
 

Ferrochrome (low carbon)
$2.90/lb
 

Ferromanganese (C<.5%)
$1.95/lb
 

Philippines Nickel Ore (1.5%)
Tianjin Port

$730/Yuan/MT
 

Indonesia Nickel Ore (1.8%)
Rizhao Port

$1020/Yuan/MT
 

Ferrochrome (LC) Gr 50
Taiyuan Port

13450/RMB/MT
 

1/27 Scrap Prices

(LTL/ton)
$.83/lb
 




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