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Nickel comes back online after record rally

Wednesday, March 16th, 2022

Nickel

The London Metals Exchange (LME) will reopen its nickel market from 4pm Western Australia time on Wednesday, March 16, after it was suspended for a week following unsustainable prices about $US100,000 per tonne ($139,000).

Upon reopening, all contracts due for delivery between March 16 and 22 will be delivered on March 23 in line with revised trading hours.

The nickel market was suspended on March 8 after it jumped more than $70,000/t in a matter of hours, compared to usual trading which would usually see it move a few hundred dollars per tonne in a day’s trading.

The unprecedented price record came as a result of Russia-Ukraine conflicts – as both countries produce significant volumes of nickel – and a short squeeze by Chinese manufacturing tycoon Xiang Guanda.

The squeeze saw Xiang’s company Tsingshan Holding Group’s gamble on nickel prices falling backfire dramatically.

A similar occurrence was seen on the New York Stock Exchange in January 2021, which saw the stock price for the American video game retailer GameStop rise more than 2000 per cent in under six months.

Concord Resources chief executive Mark Hansen commented on the nickel price in comparison to the GameStop saga.

“This was the most disorderly move in a metal I’ve seen in my career,” Hansen said.

“We had a frenzy based on speculation that accelerated on Monday and Tuesday. People forgot that this isn’t a video game retailer; it’s an important physical commodity.”

Fitch solutions expects the nickel price to remain elevated in 2022, as the Russia-Ukraine conflict continues.

In 2021 Russia was responsible for 9.3 per cent of the world’s nickel mine production, and around one-fifth of refined nickel.

“We believe that prices could remain very high in the near and medium-term, in excess of previous historical highs, due to the prospect of greater sanctions from the west, firms pre-emptively self-sanctioning, and possible export restrictions from Russia,” a statement from Fitch read.

“Even an end to the war in Ukraine and a withdrawal of sanctions would, most likely, still leave nickel prices above our previous expectations for the medium term at least.”

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