Column: Nickel, the devil’s metal with a history of bad behaviour – by Andy Home (Reuters – March 10, 2022)

The global nickel market is in a pricing black-out. The London Metal Exchange (LME) three-month nickel price sits in suspended animation at $48,048 per tonne, Monday’s closing price and the last trade with even a semblance of legitimacy.

Tuesday’s mayhem and the resulting decision by the LME to suspend all trading has frozen what is the core reference price for the global supply chain stretching from miners to stainless steel mills and electric vehicle battery makers.

China is also in black-out. The Shanghai Futures Exchange has suspended trading until Friday. Today there is no global nickel trading and no price formation. It’s a truly shocking outcome but not without precedent.

When German miners first discovered nickel in the fifteenth century, they called it Kupfernickel, or “Old Nick’s Copper”, and it has had a history of devilish behaviour ever since the LME launched the contract in 1979. The underlying cause of the repeated market disorder has never changed.

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