China’s rapid exit from its Covid-19 lockdown has triggered the restart of a rush for nickel, an old-fashioned metal mainly used in making stainless steel, but also a key ingredient in the batteries of electric vehicles.
While not yet attracting the eye of investors in the same way iron ore has with its 30% rise to $100 a ton there has been a strong flow of deals and a hint of stockpiling ahead of a possible nickel shortage.
Over the past two months the price of nickel has risen by 15%, admittedly off a pandemic low of $5 a pound to $5.75, potentially heading back to $8/lb, where it was last October.
No-one is yet talking about a higher target, the return to a time in 2007 when nickel was fetching more than $20/lb, but the there is growing confidence that nickel is heading back into boom conditions.
Hints of something significant brewing in nickel can be found in the growing number of deals in the metal, especially a high-risk move by a small Australian mining company to buy the big but troubled Goro project on the Pacific island of New Caledonia.