Nickel fell to a 13-year low of $7,725 a tonne ($3.50 a pound ) in February last year; then rallied to more than $11,700 by mid-November only to fall back nearly 20% to trade at a six-month low on Friday.
Nickel, mainly used as an anti-corrosive in steel alloys, rallied in 2016 on the back of a clampdown on mines in the Philippines which took over as the main supplier to China following an ore export ban in Indonesia in place since 2014.
The market was rocked earlier this month when Indonesia abruptly announced a partial lifting of the ban allowing exports of up to 5.2 million tonnes of nickel ore this year.
In a new report Capital Economics, a London-based independent research house, believes of all industrial metals, the nickel price has the best prospects to improve adding that “the market is tightening [following years of underinvestment in new mines] and it is still too soon to say what the partial lifting of Indonesia’s ban on ore exports will mean for supply.”
In addition supply from the Philippines may remain constrained. Final results of an audit of the mining sector in the Asian nation ordered by President Duterte is expected this week.
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