From Nickel to Cobalt, Chinese Mining Interests in Africa Face Challenges – by Kate Barlett (Voice of America – March 17, 2022)

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — It is a metal found in products used by people worldwide, unthinkingly every day. Whether it’s scrolling on a mobile phone or commuting to work in an electric car, nickel is a key part of these high-tech devices. Now nickel — a prime component in batteries — has the markets in turmoil and one Chinese company facing billions of dollars in losses.

Chinese nickel giant Tsingshan Holding Group Co wagered that nickel prices would fall, but instead, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent the commodity’s trading prices through the roof last week, driven by concerns about disruptions to the Russian company Nornickel, one of the world’s largest suppliers.

At one point the price surged by 250%, prompting the London Metal Exchange (LME) to suspend trading. The price fell back somewhat when the market reopened Wednesday, but the exchange quickly suspended trading again, saying it was investigating a technical error.

The market turmoil has been bad news for Tshingshan, the world’s largest supplier of nickel, which like many Chinese mining companies has considerable interests in Africa — specifically nickel-rich Zimbabwe.

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