This page is archived news covering the period from October 1, 2006 to October 31, 2006.
If you are looking for current daily market news, please visit this page.

Up to date information on worldwide nickel market pricing, stainless steel prices and metals market trends, analysis, and forecasts

Stainless Steel Prices & Nickel News

Daily Nickel Market Prices

October 2006

(Nickel prices are followed here daily as they are responsible for up to 60% of the cost of stainless steel)
(Molybdenum prices are for molybdenum oxide, an ingredient and major price factor in 316 stainless)

(all ton listings are metric tons = 2204.6 pounds - what we use to determine closing - see bottom of page)


Please drive carefully tonight as some of the little ghosts and goblins wandering about will be far more interested in their candy than the traffic. Happy Halloween!
LME nickel ended the trading day, and month, at $14.20/lb   ($31,300/tonne)
*    Canadian based nickel miner Sherritt announced 3rd quarter earnings of C$74.1 million compared to C$26.1 million during the same quarter last year. It also announced that expansion plans for Cuba's Moa nickel mine have been changed to a phase in, with plans to produce an additional 4000 tonnes in 2007, besides the 30,000 tonnes per year it currently produces. It also forecast prices to stay about where there are for the remainder of 2006.
*    Radio New Zealand reports talks between government officials and CSTNC members were called off for a second day, as union members consider proposals made Friday by the government.  In reality, according to Les Nouvelles, CSTNC leader Sylvia Nea, was missing Monday, and reportedly in Thio attempting to blockade the loading of nickel ore there. The attempt was unsuccessful as police apparently beat the union to the site and did not allow the union to set up a blockade. But the standoff did delay loading for the day. It is unknown where Nea was today, but again was a no show. Possibly he was in court, as an appeals court today upheld a 3 month prison sentence against Nea for actions he took against SLN last year.
*    Yieh reports production of nickel from the Phillipines more than doubled in the first half of this year, from 1.36 million tons compared to 597, 002 tons mined during the same period in 2005
*    Many Asian papers carrying reports that Jindal Steel is looking at buying Thailand's only stainless steel producer, ThaiNox, for $325 million dollars. So far, ThaiNox has only confirmed Jindal wants to buy a stake in the company.
*    New Product - Rechargeable nickel batteries - made easy here
*    Yesterday's official closing - cash - $14.29/lb - 3 month buyer - $13.79/lb
*    LME nickel inventories - minus 540 tons = 7,038 tons


In early morning trading, LME nickel had lost all of its Friday recovery, but by days end, only closed down at $13.88/lb ($30,600/tonne)
*    People's Daily reports price of nickel has increased in China by 133.66% since beginning of year.
*    Reuters reports ferrochrome prices for final quarter of 2006 have increased 3 cents to $.78/lb. Contracts finally signed in Europe after extended negotiations.
*    Article - J.P. Morgan upgrades resources sector to overweight, cites China growth here
*    South Korean companies invest $1.1 billion in Ambatovy Nickel Mine in Madagascar. Expected to go online in 2010, the mine is expected to produce 60,000 tonnes of nickel annually. The project is 40% owned by Canadian firm Dynatec Corp.
*    Article - Pain will come, but has been delayed here
*    Inco Indonesia reports its output in the first three quarters of this year was down 9.45% compared to last.
*    Metals Insider - Week in Review - here
*    Both Radio New Zealand and Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes quiet this morning on CSTNC and New Caledonia government negotiations that were to continue this morning.
*    Friday's official closing - cash - $14.76/lb - 3 month buyer - $14.15/lb
*    LME nickel inventories - plus 438 tons = 7,578 tons


*    Except for Scott Hand, the Inco board of directors resigned today, and were replaced with CVRD nominee's.
LME buyers did some bargain shopping today, tempered somewhat in the afternoon with the US GDP release, and nickel ended the day and week at $14.04/lb ($30,950/tonne). It's Friday and I leave you with a link to an old commercial, but still a classic here - have a great weekend! 
*    Article - Chinese ready to dig Papua New Guinea nickel mine here estimated opening - 2009
*    Reuters - "China will raise the export tax on copper, nickel, aluminium and other metal products to 15 percent, the Ministry of Finance said on Friday."
*    BHP Billiton announced Friday the appointment of Jimmy Wilson as President of its Stainless Steel Materials Customer Sector Group effective 1/1/2007. Wilson will face the daunting task of cost controls at the Ravensthorpe project, which is expected to exceed its $1.3 billion dollar price tag by at least 30% and possibly much worse.
*    Article - Analysts say strong demand will support base metals for 5-10 years here
*    Article - The commodity bull run is still in its early stages here
*    Radio New Zealand reports "CSTNC union and the Congress of New Caledonia will meet again on Monday for a third round of talks." Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes reports - "On the mining centers, the situation remains complicated. Thio is entirely padlocked. The site of Kouaoua is entirely blocked. Népoui works with less than 25% of strikers. Lastly, Tiébaghi functions in spite of a movement of strike which relates to 20% of manpower. " But the paper and radio station agree - the end of the 32 day old strike could be near.
*    Yieh reports Taiwan's Yusco and Tang Eng raise price on 300 series stainless
*    Yesterday's official closing - cash - $14.45/lb - 3 month buyer - $13.83/lb
*    LME nickel inventories - plus 306 tons = 7,140 tons


There are many words journalists use to define a negative market action - prices slid, prices fell, prices moved downward. Today nickel prices tanked, dived, plummeted or freefalled, take your pick. While other metals were fairly quiet, traders were obviously unnerved by the near 25% increase in LME nickel inventories experienced during the last two days, and LME prices ended the day at $13.77/lb ($30,360/tonne) , down almost 5% in one day. Falling below support levels, some traders took their profits and got out until the market calmed down.  (note - in hindsight, I was a little over zealous in my reports of a "freefall", as a reader brought to my attention.)
*    SLN tells the New Caledonia paper Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes today that their situation is extremely critical with operations at 2 of their 4 mines "largely disturbed" and that the furnace at Doniambo is running at minimum capacity. SLN is also reporting sabotage on 13 earthmovers and a shovel at the "building site of Tiebaghi". In an interview with Bloomberg, reported in Mining News, and done prior to this last incident, Pierre Alla, chief executive of Eramet`s Le Nickel SLN unit said that the Tiebaghi mine, their largest, was operational and the smelter was running at 2/3 capacity, with 2 of their 4 mines being blocked by strikers.
*    Video - BHP Chairman and CEO Don Argus - speech at annual meeting today - webcast here
*    Macro Economy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission publishes report in which they forecast China's growth will slow from an estimated 10.6% increase this year to somewhere between 9 and 10% next year. It also suggests the biggest problem China may face in 2007, is a slowing US economy. source - Xinhuanet
*    BHP Billiton chairman forecasts worldwide growth will slow next year but says demand for commodities will remain positive. And he reports the budget and schedule for the Ravensthorpe nickel project in Western Australia is under review.
*    Radio New Zealand is reporting CSTNC union members assaulted a New Caledonian public broadcaster and stole his gear during a march thru Noumea yesterday. While the report says the marchers were enroute to the SLN nickel plant, it gives no further details on the march.
*    US Fed leaves interest rates alone, but large increase in inventory into LME warehouses overnight is likely to drive price of nickel down again today.
*    Yesterday's official closing - cash - $15.08/lb - 3 month buyer - $14.41/lb
*    LME nickel inventories - plus 1086 tons = 6,834 tons


Already nervous about today's US Fed interest rate announcement, due in less than an hour and widely believed to remain unchanged, traders got hit with news of a large increase in LME inventory overnight. LME nickel dropped and never recovered, closing at $14.34/lb  ($31,600/tonne)
*    Video - News conference with Inco's Scott hand and his new boss, Roger Agnelli, president and CEO of CVRD, from this morning here  
*    Article - Goodbye Inco, ‘bem-vindos’ to Sudbury CVRD here (interesting quote - "Next year, roughly one quarter of Inco’s Sudbury workforce is eligible to retire.")
*    Globe and Mail reports Scott Hand to head the new CVRD Inco division, until a planned retirement, possibly late next year
*    Radio New Zealand quiet so far this week about any actions taken by the Caledonia strikers
*    Article - China boom is ‘exhilarating and frightening’ here
*    World's fourth largest producer of steel, Posco of Korea, announced a 6.5% increase in 300 series stainless effective today. This is the 7th stainless price increase this year for Posco.
*    Article - Base metals rated ‘overweight' at CIBC here According to article, CIBC World Markets Inc forecasts nickel price to fall to $9/lb in 2007 and $8/lb in 2009.
*    Yesterday's official closing - cash - $15.43/lb - 3 month buyer - $14.66
*    LME nickel inventories - plus 510 tons = 5,748 tons


LME nickel was quiet today, as investors waited for tomorrow's Fed announcement. Nickel closed at $14.61/lb ($32,200/tonne)
*    Ever once in awhile you see a member of the media stick their foot in their mouth. That happened today after London's The Times ran a story called "Anglo's new boss has his work cut out". Not only was the term "his" used in the title, but throughout the article, the author took it as a foregone conclusion that the new CEO of Anglo would be and should be a man. (article) A few hours later, a rival newspaper, The Telegraph, carried the headline "Anglo appoints first female head". Former Alcan executive Cynthia Carroll became chief executive of the world's third (second the day before she was hired) biggest mining company. (article)
*    Phelps Dodge, the world's largest producer of molybdenum, reported 3rd quarter profits doubled from last year, but fell short of expectations due to long term copper contracts that are locked in at prices well below current market value. A $125 million break up fee it received from Inco did not hurt the quarter. Reuters reports that Phelps is projecting a $4.75 to $5.50/per share return next quarter, of which $1.30 of that will be Inco's (or CVRD's bill now) final break up fee.   
*    Allegheny Ludlum bucked the trend and lowered its surcharge on 304 stainless from $1.2571 to $1.2285 per pound for November deliveries. This reflects in a slight decrease in the average nickel price from July to September. The average price of nickel for October has risen and is expected to be reflected in Allegheny's December surcharge.
*    According to Interfax, Russia's Federal State Statistics Service reports stainless steel production in that country has increased by 28.6% so far this year.
*    JP Morgan Securities Ltd. predict higher iron ore prices next year, possibly 7.5% higher, on the back of surging demand from China.
*    Toledo Mining Company, which had hoped to begin producing nickel from its Phillipines Berong project this month has announced delays due to heavy rains from two typhoons. Operations, still contingent on final approval by the Phillipines government, are now expected to begin in late November or December.
*    Article - Nickel – Prices are too high says nickel expert here
*    Outokumpu video conference 2006 3rd quarter results here
*    Nickel production not affected, but it is reported that Bolivia has announced plans to take control of five Swiss based Glencore operated mines
*    As of midnight, CVRD announced it had secured 75.66% of outstanding Inco shares. It also extended its offer for $86 per share to November 3rd.
*    Yesterday's official closing - cash - $15.51/lb - 3 month buyer - $14.59/lb
*    LME nickel inventories - plus 90 tons = 5,238 tons


For the 4th time in the last 7 trading days, 3 month LME nickel hit a new record high, at one point selling at $32,700/tonne. It ended the day at $14.68/lb ($32,350/tonne) 
*    Indonesian ferronickel producer PT Antam reports third quarter sale up 44% over last year, with nickel output increasing from 1,892 mt to 3,387 during the same period.
*    The Fed meets this week to discuss interest rates - and here is the weeks financial calendar here
*    According to multiple sources, CVRD should become the world's second largest miner today, if Inco shareholders tender to their offer, as expected. This will make them second only to BHP, and push Anglo-American and Rio Tinto down to 3rd and 4th largest. The purchase will also make CVRD the world's largest producer of nickel, forcing Norilsk from the top spot. Anglo has its own problems, as the Times reported Saturday it may become the target of a takeover early next year by Russian aluminum company, Rusal.
*    Article - Iconic Inco rides off into the sunset here
*    Yieh reports that one week after Japan raised prices, Chinese mills raised the price of stainless steel Friday, with Taiwan mills expected to follow suit later this week.
*    Finnish metals group Outokumpu Oyj, the worlds 3rd largest producer of stainless, reports record third quarter profits of $231 million Euro compared to a loss of $26 million Euro during the same period last year.
*    Radio New Zealand reports SLN officials advising their smelter operations in Noumea (New Caledonia) are running about 70-80%, and mine operations are running at about 50% capacity, due to the strike by CSTNC. Police are advising the station only one Eramet nickel mine is currently blocked.
*    Metals Insider - Week in Review here
*    Friday's official closing - cash - $15.64/lb - 3 month buyer - $14.50/lb
*    LME nickel inventories - plus 312 tons = 5,148 tons


LME nickel ended the day up, but not as high as it was earlier in the day, when it hit $32,550/tonne ($14.76/lb). It ended the day and week at $14.54/lb ($32,050/tonne)
*    Third quarter LME average price of nickel - $13.24/lb compared to $6.61/lb during the same quarter in 2005
*    Article - High nickel prices hit China here (noteworthy quote - "Chinese demand for imported nickel has fallen as world prices touch record highs, traders said Thursday."
*    Inco reports its highest quarterly profits ever, earning $701 million compared to $64 million during the same 3 months last year.
*    Article - Junior Miners Set to Shine, Says Analyst here
*    According to the International Iron and Steel Institute (IISI), world crude-steel production was 8.8% higher in September than for the same month last year. China reported the largest increase, a staggering 18% increase, compared to 2.9% higher in North America.
*    Radio New Zealand reports approximately 350 members of CSTNC marched in to Noumea today, having apparently dropped many of their previous demands. According to the station, their leader is now concentrating his demands on ensuring the construction of Xstrata's Koniambo mine. The station also reports it is receiving conflicting reports on whether some ore loading is being blocked, a report the police deny. (opinion - for all practical purposes this incident seems to have wound down. However, there is a very good chance for numerous incidents in the future, targeting both SLN and Inco. Xstrata is probably very concerned as it analyzes whether to proceed with the aforementioned Koniambo project. Nothing like a hot headed union leader demanding you come to the island so he can make your life miserable.)
*    It's already been a good day for CVRD. Brazilian Xikrin Indians have left the Carajas mining town they seized on Tuesday. And the Canadian Minister of Industry approved the Inco acquisition late Thursday, under the Investment Canada Act, the last regulatory hurdle. CVRD has reportedly made the following promises - CVRD's worldwide nickel division will be based in Toronto and headed by a Canadian COO, along with a majority Canadian executive team. There will be no lay-off's at the mines during the next 3 years, with total employment to stay at least at a 85% level during that period. Commitments include further exploration in Canada and some Voisey's Bay pledges. Analysts expect CVRD to take over Inco within the next week.
*    Yesterday's official closing - cash - $15.15/lb - 3 month buyer - $14.20/lb
*    LME nickel inventory - minus 96 tons = 4,836 tons


LME nickel ended the day up at $14.02/lb ($30,900/tonne)
*    Article - World nickel market in 70,000 ton deficit in the first eight months here
*    CVRD reports 200 armed Xikrin Indians attacked the company town of Carajas in the Para State of Brazil on Tuesday, and initially took 600 hostages, who were later released. Reuters article here
*    Article - Robert Friedland - no matter what kind of rocks this guy finds, it usually ends up being gold for someone here Yesterday, stock in Canadian Ivanhoe Mines soared 31% after it was announced Rio Tinto was investing in their Mongolian project.
*    Radio New Zealand reports French police in New Caledonia have cleared access to an Eramet mine on the island's north side, that had been blockaded by the striking CSTNC union. Pierre Alla, chief executive officer of Eramet's Le Nickel-SLN unit, told Bloomberg, that 3 of the 4 mines were now opened and SLN hoped to resume normal shipments to customers by next week.
*    Universal Stainless & Alloy Products, Inc. reports that net income for the 3rd quarter of 2006 rose 73% to a record $5.7 million, on a 28% increase in sales.
*    Article - So, are you better off than your grandparents? Forbes 'The Average American: 1967 And Today' here
*    Japan's largest stainless steel producer, Nippon Steel & Sumikin Stainless Corp, announced it raised its price for stainless steel sheet by 7% yesterday. This is the 10th straight monthly increase by Nippon and 43% higher than their price was in December 2005.
*    Presentation - Yesterday, I referred to some worrisome figures coming out of the Australian Nickel Conference. Visit this page to download the slide presentation given by keynote speaker and Nickel Institute President Stephen Barnett here
*    Yesterday's official closing - cash - $14.79/lb - 3 month buyer - $13.79/lb
*    LME nickel inventory - minus 378 tons = 4,932 tons


LME nickel had another down day, closing at $14.01/lb ($30,900/tonne)
*    Article - Eramet's New Caledonia nickel output falls further on strike here
*    Sucden is quoting a Platts article with some worrisome figures about the potential for the nickel deficit to actually grow over the next few years, coming out of the Australian Nickel Conference now going on in Perth.
*    Article - New Caledonia Union to Meet Oct. 20 to Discuss Strike here
*    The Globe and Mail reports CVRD and Xstrata are already discussing a possible merger of Inco's and the former Falconbridge's Sudbury nickel operations.  
*    Yieh reports Taiwanese stainless producers are expected to raise their prices for November delivery.
*    CSTNC union members begin attacking boat belonging to Goro in Noumea - police arrest 48, one policeman injured.
*    Presentation - Nickel Market Overview - The Supply Response presented to INSG Oct 2006 meeting (here - pdf) more presentations at meeting here
*    Rich from Buffalo, NY made an interesting observation yesterday - referring to our entry last Friday about what is was costing the government to make the U.S. nickel these days - "One more interesting thought. With the population at 300,000,000 then the $17,083,046.40 loss for nickels cost each person just about a nickel."
*    Nice presentation from last month by Man Financial  - Base Metals Review and outlook here
*    Yesterday's official closing - cash - $15.55/lb - 3 month buyer - $14.40/lb
*    LME nickel inventory - plus 414 tons = 5,310 tons


Nickel on the London Metal Exchange took a big step back today after its huge gain yesterday. LME nickel closed at $14.22/lb ($31,350/tonne)
*    Feeling a little lost in the crowd this morning? Could be because the US population rolled over 300,000,000 this morning.
*    Radio New Zealand quiet on activities of CSTNC - 'possibly' because their leader was back in court today (7:20 am CST here - in 20 minutes it will be yesterday there) on appeal of a conviction for his actions against the SLN facility last year. (see article posted earlier today for details)
*    Article - Inco says Goro back under construction here
*    CVRD extends offer to acquire Inco shares to 10/23. Investment Canada has yet to approve the offer.
*    Article - very interesting 'independent' insight (although about 3 weeks old) into the CSTNC and the problems with business and unions on New Caledonia - and what may be 'really' going on with this strike here. According to CIA World Factbook, New Caledonia is slightly smaller than state of New Jersey. This kind of info, if true, must make Xstrata extremely nervous about investing billions into a Koniambo project, and it probably causes CVRD some concern about Goro.
*   Yesterday's official closing - cash - $15.26/lb - 3 month buyer - $14.00/lb
*    LME nickel inventory - plus 420 tons = 4,896 tons


As can be seen by today's price increase, primarily caused by a strike in New Caledonia, the market is very nervous about low inventories. Potentially, a bigger threat, is the normal maintenance schedules some of these mines and smelters have skipped to take advantage of high prices. Mines, in general, have been running all out now for well over two years and a catastrophic failure with such tight inventories, could panic the market. LME nickel ended the day in new record territory, closing at $14.43/lb ($31,800/tonne) In other metals, Indonesia's crackdown of illegal mines and unlicensed smelters drove tin to record levels, and in Bolivia, President Evo Morales on Sunday announced plans to nationalize Bolivia's mines.
*    Article - Nickel Climbs to 19-Year High as Mine Blockade Curbs Supply here
*    Article - How the LME works and why the Third Wednesday is important here
*    Article - Moguls ride nickel wave here quote from The West Australian "London-based researcher GFMS Metals said this week that forecasts by the International Stainless Steel Forum indicated a massive increase this half as Chinese capacity increased. Macquarie Bank has increased its assumed average price for Australian nickel producers for the 2006-07 financial year from the equivalent of about $US18,633/t to $US22,068/t (note - $10.01/lb). It expects the price to fall only marginally in 2007-08 before sliding to around $US11,600/t in 2009-10.(note - $5.26/lb)"
*    Article - Early morning record breaking nickel trading is making headlines here
*    Article - Ferrochrome price negotiations for fourth quarter are still underway here
*    New Caledonian Confederated Union of Workers strike enters 4th week, with Eramet advising they have approximately 10 days worth of ore left to process at their smelter, but are confident access to their closed mine will be accomplished this week.  Bloomberg reports strikers locked the gates to a second mine this morning.
*    Monday's Metals Insider 'Week in Review' for nickel here
*    Friday's official closing - cash - $15.22/lb - 3 month buyer - $13.93/lb
*    LME nickel inventory - plus 192 tons = 4,476 tons

What is that US nickel in your pocket worth right now? According to the US Mint, the nickel weighs 5 grams and is 75% copper and 25% nickel. Thus a nickel has 5 grams X .25% nickel = 1.25 grams and X.75% - 3.75 grams of copper. There are 453.59 grams in a pound. At Friday's unofficial close of $13.95/lb for nickel and $3.39/lb for copper, the nickel has $.0384 worth of nickel in it and $.02532 worth of copper in it. Thus, the raw material cost of a US nickel is currently running $.06372. According to the US Mint site, they produced 1,245,120,000 nickels thru September. At the prices shown above, the loss of $.01372/each for 1,245,120,000 nickels would cost the US taxpayer a net loss of $17,083,046.40. And that does NOT include the cost to produce the nickels - that is raw material only. (oh and before you haul your nickel jar to the local metal recycler - "It is illegal to fraudulently deface, mutilate, impair, diminish, falsify scales or lighten any coins minted or coined in the United States or any foreign coins which are by law made current or are in use or circulation as money within the U.S. (18 U.S.C. 331)")

LME nickel ended the day as expected on news of supply disruption in an already tight market - ending the day and week at $13.95/lb ($30,750/tonne). It could have been worse, but the US dollar was up, which generally works against commodities.
*    So, in a nutshell, what is going on New Caledonia and why it suddenly matters (primary source Radio New Zealand coverage)... CSTNC strike began 9/24. The CSTNC is protesting against a range of issues, including the hiring of Filipino workers by Inco for the Goro mining project, the high cost of living, and the delay in construction of a nickel plant in the north of the territory (Xstrata's Koniambo). None of the issues relate to Eramet or its operation at Noumea, but they seem to be getting the brunt, primarily because they are actually producing nickel, while the others are either under construction (Inco's Goro mine) or in the north, on hold (Xstrata's Koniambo mine). On Oct 2, the group blockaded Eramet's SLN company, which company officials claimed, cost it $1US million a day. On Tuesday, the blockade was lifted, but strikers returned on Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday morning, police moved in and the protesters left without incident. But as the morning went on, a large crowd of protesters grew and tensions rose, and as the union attempted to march into the city, they clashed with police. Now, only a few days after Radio New Zealand reported support among union members was wavering, the confrontation could rekindle support. As we reported earlier today, the union leader has proclaimed Eramet might has well shut down its furnace because the group will not allow anymore nickel to ship. Sucden reports Eramet has already declared force majeure on one nickel shipment. New Caledonia is the world’s fifth largest producer of mined nickel. (commentary - this is like protesting at an American McDonalds because there is a Burger King being built down the street using a Mexican construction crew - wonder what unique phrases are being used to describe Canada's Inco right now from Eramet's French headquarters?)
*    Radio New Zealand - The New Caledonian environmentalist group, Caugern, has called a meeting today to discuss its next step against the Goro Nickel project. (This is a separate action than those targeting Eramet and SLN)
*    Radio New Zealand - New Caledonia’s CSTNC union members and police have clashed outside the SLN mining company in Noumea and Sylvain Nea, leader of CSTNC, vows no more nickel will be allowed to ship next week.
*    Article - Nickel price forecasts are unsettled here
*    Article - China to buoy base metals over next year -analysts here
*    China's richest person is Cheung Yan, founder of Chinese paper packager Nine Dragons Paper and she, yes, that is right, she is worth $3.4US billion. Last year, she ranked 38th richest, worth a mere US$375 million. She now becomes the richest self-made woman in the world
*    Reuters - China's economic growth is likely to slow modestly to around 10 % in 2007 from 10.5% this year, a top Chinese government think-tank said in a report Wednesday.
*    Yesterday's official closing - cash - $14.95/lb - 3 month buyer - $13.61/lb
*    LME nickel inventory today - minus 702 tons - 4,284 tons


LME nickel initially took a dip today on news of fresh inventory, but before the day ended, it set a new record high, and closed at $13.84/lb ($30,500/tonne).
*    Phelps Dodge, who was unsuccessful in its recent bid for Inco and Falconbridge, has now got one of its primary shareholders looking for potential buyers for Phelps.
*    According to the Manila Bulletin (10/5) the Atlas Consolidated Mining & Development Corp is scheduled to make their first 30,000 ton shipment of nickel grade ore to Japan from the Berong nickel mine on October 16th. If all goes well, the company estimates they will ship 620,000 dry tons in 2007 and 1 million tons in 2008. For those who play the market, keep an eye on Toledo Mining, who holds majority stock in this mine.
*    Have a colleague or employer involved in mining you would like to nominate for an award? - see here
*    Purchasing Magazine finally gives up telling its readers the nickel market is going to nose-dive and concedes prices could stay high here
*    New Caledonian SLN mining company general manager, Pierre Alla, tells Radio New Zealand that they continue to negotiate with the union partially blocking entrance to Eramet's smelter. He also hinted that French officials may call in police to break the stand-off, and they only have another week's worth of ore left to continue production. Much of the protest is over Inco's use of Filipino workers at their Goro mine project. (note - Xstrata is still researching whether it wants to proceed with the Koniambo project in northern New Caledonia it inherited from its purchase of Falconbridge. This unrest could put that mines future in jeopardy)
*    Article - Stronger For Longer here
*    Eramet SA says the general strike in New Caledonia may force it to cut production of ferro-nickel shipments
*    Yesterday's official closing - cash - $14.68/lb - 3 month buyer - $13.65/lb
*    LME nickel inventory today - plus 966 tons = 4,986 tons


LME nickel ends the day at $13.65/lb (30,100/tonne)
*    And you thought nickel was expensive! Take a look at this rock - sold for $16.6 million yesterday here 
*    Financial Times - "Base metals markets have become overly concerned about a slowdown in global economic growth," said Francisco Blanch, commodity strategist at Merrill Lynch. "[But] momentum in the world economy continues to be very supportive, fed by a strong global investment cycle, positive employment growth and still relatively accommodative financial conditions." article here
*    Overly optimistic? - South African Standard Bank forecasts nickel prices to average $12.25/lb in 2007.
*     Article - Commodities vulnerable to burnout here
*    Stainless steel prices are reportedly higher in China, since they returned to work this week, according to Yieh. Yieh also reports inventories of 300 series stainless are tight in some areas of China, as manufacturers have held off production in hopes of lower nickel prices. Demand has not fallen.
*    Yesterday's official closing - cash - $14.71/lb - 3 month buyer - $13.37/lb (backwardation at $1.34/lb)
*    LME nickel inventory today - plus 90 tons = 4,020 tons


LME nickel ends the day at $13.47/lb ($29,690/tonne)
*    Article - LME closely monitoring nickel market here
*    Article - China metals demand seen up in 2007 here
*    Noteworthy - Macquarie Research raises its average price forecast for nickel in 2007 to $21,495 a tonne ($9.75/lb)
*    Radio New Zealand reports New Caledonia strike against Inco's Goro Mine continues and states "The SLN nickel company’s operations have been crippled by union action although SLN employs no Filipinos." Last we heard from Inco last week, was construction was continuing on a reduced level. here
*    International Iron and Steel Institute forecasts consumption of steel in the world to reach 1.121 billion tons in 2006, up 9 % over last year. China consumption is forecast to rise by 14.4%.
*    Barclay's forecasts a 4th quarter average of $14.29/lb for cash nickel, according to Platts 
*    Yesterday's official closing - cash - $14.84/lb - 3 month buyer - $13.63/lb
*    LME nickel inventory - minus 528 tons = 3,930 tons


LME nickel, after hitting a new record high, ended the day at $13.36/lb ($29,450/tonne), where it ended Friday
*    Bloomberg reports nickel hits new record high in early trading today. Forbes reports $13.73/lb for 3 month ($30,250/tonne) was hit earlier today. The $30,000/tonne barrier had been breached for the first time in history on Aug 24th of this year.
*    Friday's official closing - cash - $14.38/lb - 3 month buyer - $13.29/lb
*    LME nickel inventory - minus 396 tons = 4,458 tons


*    London Metal Exchange gets a new director here


LME nickel ended the day and week at $13.36/lb ($29,450/tonne)
*    Article - LME doors may clang shut here
*    Article - Commodity 'supercycle' not over, Morgan Stanley says here
*    Globe Mail - CVRD's bid for Inco is approved by regulators in Europe here
*    Reuters - Russia's Norilsk Nickel, the world's largest nickel and palladium miner, posted first-half net profit of $2.367 billion, 143 percent more than a year ago.
*    Article - Barclays optimistic on base metals here
*    Yesterday's official closing - cash - $13.93/lb - 3 month buyer - $12.93/lb (backwardation at $1/lb)
*    LME nickel inventory - plus 72 tons = 4,854 tons


LME nickel ended the day at $13.09/lb ($28,850/tonne)
*    Article - Xstrata's not done growing here
*    Article - CVRD - The Brazilian Multinational here
*    Article - Funds, industrial demand driving base metal prices up: analysis here
*    Article - Nickel market to get boost from hybrid cars here
*    Yesterday's official closing - cash - $14.29/lb - 3 month buyer - $13.35/lb
*    LME nickel inventory today - minus 126 tons = 4,782 tons


LME nickel ended the day down at $12.72/lb ($28,050/tonne)
*    Article - Stainless Steel Market at Risk of Overheating here
*    Turkish newspaper Sabah reports China is attempting to drive the price of worldwide ferrochrome down, but Turkish miner Eti Krom has suspended sales to the Chinese spot market since July.  here
*    Goro Nickel's deputy director Jeff Zweig tells Dow Jones News that construction at Goro continues, although at reduced levels, in response to the continuing New Caledonian strikes. The article also quotes Goro General Manager Ron Renton as stating in a recent interview that he is convinced the mine will be operational by mid 2008. More here from Bloomberg
*    Yesterday's official closing - cash - $14.15/lb - 3 month buyer - $13.29/lb
*    LME nickel inventory today - minus 174 tons = 4,908 tons


LME nickel ended the day at $13.04/lb ($28,750/tonne)
*    World Average Stainless Steel Prices - Latest Forecast From MEPS here
*    Yesterday's closing price - cash - $14.24/lb - 3 month buyer - $13.29/lb
*    LME nickel inventory today - minus 42 tons = 5,082 tons


LME nickel ended the day at $13.27/lb ($29,250/tonne) after flirting with a new record high in early trading.
*    Article - Why don't magnets work on some stainless steels? here
*    Article - Exploding Nickel Prices Driving The Stainless Steel Market Higher by MEPS here
*    For more info, see Sunday's numerous entries (10-1)
*    Friday's official closing - cash - $14.29/lb - 3 month buyer - $13.06/lb
*    LME nickel inventory today - minus 336 tons = 5,124 tons


*    Mineweb reports "a plan for Alrosa to acquire Norilsk Nickel, which has been under consideration in government circles for almost a year, is not on the agenda "for the time being.""
*    Article - CVRD secures big credit line for Inco acquisition here and locks up a nice iron ore contract here
*    Article - Billionaire's nationalism a wee bit misplaced here
*    Inco reports strikes demanding the removal of Filipino workers at Inco's New Caledonia mine have not affected construction there. According to an article in the Manila Standard Today, " Anger has grown over the Filipino workers, who are building Goro Nickel’s metal-working factory in the south of the French territory. Building at the site has slowed with the return to Noumea of more than a third of the 2,800 New Caledonians who used to work there......Inco, one of the biggest mining firms in the world, had specifically asked for an all-Filipino contingent to build the mining plant, Therese Lazaro, Philippine Consul General in Sydney, Australia, said in April" (Filipinos working for EEI and AG&P, two Philippine-based construction firms) According to New Zealand's Scoop, CSTNC union leader, Sylvain Nea, says "the hundreds of Filipinos are not restricted to doing specialist jobs but perform other work which could be done by New Caledonians"  The Scoop also reports government officials will seek charges of alleged race hate be filed against New, a crime punishable with imprisonment in that country.
*    Inco reports Voisey's Bay miners are back to work, and operations will back in full production within a few weeks.
*    Scotiabank's Commodity Price Index reports "an LME short position held by South Korea's major steel producer, which must be covered by September 29 in an environment of critically low LME stocks, has also added to upward speculative pressure." Also the press release stated "nickel prices spiked to US$15.76 per pound on August 24, well above the previous US$10.84 per pound record of March 1988. Robust international stainless steel consumption, including greater than anticipated demand for high nickel-containing austenitic rather than ferritic steels, partly accounts for the spike in nickel." "While nickel prices have eased back to US$14.11 in late August and prices may revert to somewhat lower levels in October, the strength of global stainless steel demand should keep prices quite lucrative in 2007."  

All prices, unless marked official closing prices, are indications only of LME traded prices and courtesy IFS. LME does not allow their actual prices and closing prices to be published until the next trading day.
The author states that no one has any real idea what's going to happen in the future, and hereby declares that any prediction or forecast made on, or linked to, from this blog, is merely a wildly unsupported speculation (source)

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(average annual price)

2001 $2.70/lb
2002 $3.07/lb
2003 $4.37/lb
2004 $6.28/lb
2005 $6.69/lb

(average annual price)

2001 $2.36/lb
2002 $3.59/lb
2003 $5.21/lb
2004 $15.92/lb
2005 $32.51/lb

(average annual price)

2002 $ .30/lb
2003 $ .47/lb
2004 $ .68/lb
2005 $ .73/lb

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