As pressure on BHP and Glencore grows, Australia cuts may signal nickel revival – by Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – February 10, 2016)

MELBOURNE – Australian nickel miners are under increasing pressure to suspend or cut production, with investors eyeing key announcements in coming weeks after rival producers in New Caledonia won a pledge of support from France.

Benchmark prices of the steel-making material have fallen more than 45 percent since early 2015 to their lowest since 2003, and are seen grinding lower amid ample global stocks and slowing property growth in top consumer China.

Glencore and BHP Billiton, whose high-cost Murrin Murrin and Nickel West facilities are struggling to sustain operations, are both due to make production and profit reports in coming weeks. News of any output cuts could buoy prices.

“Everyone is waiting for everyone else to blink first – it is just a question of how long can people hold on for,” said Ian Warden of AME Group in Sydney. “They’re (Australian miners) at the top of the (cost) curve and under quite a bit of pressure.”

Other major nickel producers Russia and Canada have been insulated from rock-bottom prices by a dive in the rouble and technology upgrades that have cut costs respectively.

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