SINGAPORE/JAKARTA, Aug 8 (Reuters) – Nickel prices surged on Thursday on concerns that major supplier Indonesia could bring forward a ban on ore exports despite a senior official claiming any such ruling remains “uncertain.”
Benchmark three-month nickel on the London Metal Exchange (LME) surged as much as 12.7% to $16,690 a tonne, its highest since April 2018. That is the biggest intraday percentage gain for the nickel forward since Jan. 2, 2009.
LME nickel eased to $15,545 a tonne at 0940 GMT, up 5%. The most active nickel contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) rose to a record 124,890 yuan ($17,730.49) a tonne. “This is a very sexy price. For miners, higher price always makes us happy,” said a trader with a nickel mine.
Indonesia, a major supplier of nickel ore used mainly in the stainless steel industry, relaxed a ban on ore exports in 2017, but said at the time the moratorium would last only five years and that exports would be restricted again in 2022.
“I can only talk about the existing (rules). I don’t want to talk about something that is uncertain,” Bambang Gatot Ariyono, director general of mineral and coal at Indonesia’s mining ministry, told Reuters on Thursday when asked if the government is planning to move forward the ban.