Archive | Nickel Laterites

Indonesia’s competition watchdog looks into nickel sector after cartel complaint (Reuters U.S. – November 18, 2019)

JAKARTA, Nov 18 (Reuters) – Indonesia’s anti-monopoly agency has begun a preliminary study of the country’s nickel smelting sector, an agency official said on Monday, after a miners’ association accused big nickel smelters of conducting a cartel.

The agency will decide whether to launch a full investigation of pricing and other practices in the industry after completing its initial enquiries, Guntur Saragih, a commissioner at Indonesia’s Commission for the Supervision of Business Competition (KPPU), told a news briefing.

The Indonesian nickel miners association (APNI) has claimed that two giant smelters control 60% of the local nickel ore market and determine prices in Indonesia, the world’s biggest nickel ore exporter. It has not named the two smelters. Continue Reading →

Is China locking up Indonesian nickel? – by Richard Mills ( – October 2019)

As it has done with cobalt, graphite and rare earths, China appears to be locking up the nickel market. Nickel’s top producer, Indonesia, in early September decided to accelerate a scheduled ban on ore export shipments, from 2022 to January 1, 2020.

The ban which instead took immediate effect on Oct. 28, is to encourage the building of domestic smelters instead of exporting raw nickel, and other metals, for processing abroad. (the country did the same thing in 2014 but lifted the ban three years later).

No coincidence

Is it any coincidence that Indonesia decided in September to ban nickel ore exports, just a few weeks after a meeting between Indonesian president Joko Widodo and Chinese industrial executives, including Xiang Guanda, who in partnership with his wife, runs Tsingshan Holding Group? Continue Reading →

Indonesia may decide on Thursday whether to resume nickel ore exports (Reuters U.S. – November 6, 2019)

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia may decide this week whether to resume nickel ore exports after halting shipments to investigate reports of export rule violations, a senior official from the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry said on Wednesday.

The Maritime and Investment Affairs Coordinating Ministry, which has overall responsibility for mining activities, meets on Thursday to review the results of the investigation, Yunus Saefulhak, the director of minerals, told a conference.

The government ordered a temporary halt to exports of nickel ore on Oct. 28 following reports that exports had surged after Indonesia said an export ban would be implemented from January 2020, bringing it forward from 2022. Continue Reading →

Trump activated a long-dormant clause in Cuba trade war — and it’s starting to hurt Canadian companies – by Naomi Powell (Financial Post – November 5, 2019)

Sherritt International is suffering from a ratcheting up of U.S. restrictions on everything from financial transactions, to travel and shipping

Tougher U.S. sanctions on Cuba squeezed Sherritt International in the third quarter, disrupting the supply of diesel to its nickel mine on the island and casting doubt over the timing of key payments in foreign currency.

The Toronto based firm, which operates the Moa mine as a joint venture with the Cuban government, was forced to adopt conservation measures including running fewer mining trucks as U.S. sanctions on oil shipments worsened an acute fuel shortage.

The measures reduced production of mixed sulphite, though nickel production was unaffected. Mixed sulphides production is now back on track and access to fuel supply returned to normal in the fourth quarter, the company said in a call with investors Friday. Continue Reading →

Column: Fizzing nickel distracts from the LME Week metals gloom – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – November 4, 2019)

LONDON (Reuters) – “Near the bottom or worse to come?” The title of CRU Group’s panel discussion last Tuesday neatly sums up the downbeat mood of this year’s London Metal Exchange (LME) Week, the annual gathering of the world’s metals industry.

This time last year the cocktail party chatter was all about President Trump and the escalating trade war with China. One year on and the Sino-U.S. stand-off is still tantalisingly suspended between deal/no-deal (delete according to personal preference).

Industrial metal markets have paid the price for this year-long showdown. Political deadlock has accentuated China’s manufacturing slowdown and further depressed an already struggling global automotive sector. Continue Reading →

Copper prices seen stifled by growth fears next year: Reuters poll – by Eric Onstad and K. Sathya Narayanan (Reuters U.S. – October 28, 2019)

LONDON/ (Reuters) – Prices of copper and other industrial metals are expected to be capped next year as weak economic growth weighs on the market, a Reuters poll showed.

The London Metal Exchange index of six base metals has inched up only 1% so far this year, held back by worries about a possible global recession and a trade war between the United States and top metals consumer China.

But the average is deceptive, because sharp gains for nickel of over 50% cover the fact that half of the metals are in the red, with losses of up to 15%. Continue Reading →

The Big Question in Metals Is What Happens Next to Nickel – by Mark Burton (Bloomberg News – October 27, 2019)

While the fog of the trade war clouds the outlook for most commodities, battle lines are being drawn in the nickel market. On either side, traders and investors are lining up to bet on two diametrically opposed paths for prices.

The catalyst: Indonesia’s surprise move in late August to bring forward a ban on exports of unrefined ore. That’s set up conditions for a supply shortage, which triggered a rush to pull inventory out of warehouses. Freely available stockpiles on the London Metal Exchange are now the lowest in more than 12 years.

On one side, some traders are betting this is the start of a long-term, structural deficit that will propel prices sharply higher. Others argue there’s plenty of nickel available in the wider physical market and the market is about to nosedive. Continue Reading →

Chinese-owned nickel plant in PNG shut down after toxic slurry spill – by Bethanie Harriman (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – October 24, 2019)

Papua New Guinean authorities have shut down a Chinese-owned nickel processing plant for breaching safety and mining laws, after the operator spilled tens of thousands of litres of toxic slurry into a bay in August.

PNG’s Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) chose to take punitive action against the Ramu Nico plant, which is majority owned by the Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC), after it failed to fix problems the authority identified while investigating the spill.

These included incompetency among operators at the plant in PNG’s Madang province, problems with the spillage containment system, and inadequate equipment maintenance. Continue Reading →

Brazil’s Vale earnings miss expectations, cites dam shutdown progress – by Christian Plumb and Roberto Samora (Reuters U.S. – October 24, 2019)

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazilian miner Vale (VALE3.SA) on Thursday reported a weaker-than-forecast 15% gain in quarterly earnings as the iron ore exporter tries to overhaul its operations to avoid a recurrence of the dam burst that killed more than 250 people in January.

Vale’s net profit rose to $1.654 billion from $1.408 billion in the year-ago period, missing the $2.72 billion mean of analysts polled by Refinitiv, as an increase in iron ore prices was partially offset by a slump in production following the incident.

Vale, which is still wrestling with the aftermath of the deadly dam collapse near the town of Brumadinho, said it was making progress with its effort to decommission, or shut down, other such dams as Chief Executive Eduardo Bartolomeo reiterated the company’s “commitment to safety.” Continue Reading →

METALS-Shanghai nickel rises on low stockpiles, Nornickel accident – by Mai Nguyen (Reuters U.S. – October 23, 2019)

SINGAPORE, Oct 23 (Reuters) – Shanghai nickel prices rose on Wednesday, tracking gains overnight in London, buoyed by supply concerns amid falling inventories and following an accident at major nickel producer Nornickel’s mine in Siberia.

The most-traded nickel contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) rose as much as 4.8% to 132,210 yuan ($18,668.72) a tonne, after benchmark nickel on the London Metal Exchange (LME) climbed 2.5% in the prior session. The Shanghai contract ended up 3% at 129,970 yuan a tonne.

Nickel stocks in LME-approved warehouses MNISTX-TOTAL fell to 87,132 tonnes, hovering around their lowest since November 2011, latest data showed, while ShFE nickel inventories have picked up recently SNI-TOTAL-W. Continue Reading →

Nickel Relives The Failed Attempt By The Hunt Brothers To Corner Silver – by Tim Treadgold (Forbes Magazine – October 20, 2019)

Attempts to “corner” a metal market invariably end in tears, if not jail time, which is what happened with silver in 1980 and copper in 1995, so when the market in nickel “inverted” last week warnings were issued that an old game was being played in one of the new generation of battery metals.

The term inverted essentially means that the short-term price of a product, whether a metal or a government bond, rises above the long-term price, which is unnatural and a sign of trouble ahead. An inverted bond yield can be interpreted as a recession pointer.

Three Brothers And A Silver Plan

Silver had its crisis when three brothers who were heirs to the Hunt Oil fortune acquired, or attempted to acquire, one-third of the global supply of the metal. Continue Reading →

Indonesia state miner agrees to buy 20% stake in Vale Indonesia (Reuters U.S. – October 13, 2019)

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Mining Industry Indonesia, the state miner formerly known as PT Inalum, said on Monday it has signed an initial agreement to buy a 20% stake in nickel miner PT Vale Indonesia (INCO.JK) for an undisclosed sum.

The planned sale was flagged by the Indonesian government last week as Vale Indonesia seeks to comply with rules that require foreign controlled miners to reduce their ownership to 49% or below within 10 years of starting operations.

Vale Indonesia is currently around 59% owned by Brazil’s Vale SA (VALE3.SA) and around 20% by Japan’s Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 1-Indonesia govt appoints Inalum to buy stake in Vale Indonesia -official (Reuters U.K. – October 7, 2019)

JAKARTA, Oct 7 (Reuters) – Indonesia’s government has appointed state miner PT Inalum to purchase a stake that PT Vale Indonesia intends to sell, the Director General of Coal and Minerals, Bambang Gatot Ariyono, said on Monday.

Vale, one of Indonesia’s largest nickel miners, is set to divest around 20% of its stake to local investor to meet new regulations aimed at limiting foreign ownership of its mining resources.

The company had said it aims to conduct the stake sale in October. Continue Reading →

SpaceX Unveils Silvery Vision to Mars: ‘It’s Basically an I.C.B.M. That Lands’ – by Kenneth Chang (New York Times – September 29, 2019)

“Mr. Musk originally had planned to use high-tech carbon fiber,
but switched to denser stainless steel. It is cheaper, easier to
work with, becomes stronger in the ultracold temperatures of space
and has a higher melting temperature that can more easily withstand
the heat of re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.”

BOCA CHICA VILLAGE, Tex. — As you drive east along Texas State Highway 4, it looks like a giant, shiny and pointy grain silo is rising out of the scrubby flatland at the tip of southern Texas. But it is the first version of a spaceship design that Elon Musk, the entrepreneur and founder of the rocket company SpaceX, hopes will be humanity’s first ride to Mars.

Within a month or two, he says optimistically, this prototype of the Starship spacecraft — without anyone aboard — will blast off to an altitude of 12 miles, then return to the ground in one piece.

“It’s going to be pretty epic to see that thing take off and come back,” Mr. Musk said late on Saturday at a SpaceX facility outside Brownsville, Tex., where Starship is being built. Continue Reading →

Vale to restart Onça Puma nickel complex – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – September 24, 2019)

Brazil’s Vale (NYSE: VALE) has begun working on resuming operations at its $3 billion Onça Puma nickel mining complex, as the country’s Supreme Court suspended injunctions against the miner earlier this month.

Nickel mining at Onça Puma, in Brazil’s northern Pará state, has been halted since September 2017 as the company failed to undergo a requested environmental impact on local indigenous communities affected by pollution caused by the mine.

The complex, which also had to suspend nickel processing in June this year, produced a record 7,100 tonnes of nickel in the third quarter of 2017, up 29% compared with the prior three-month period and up 7.6% from the third quarter of 2016, Vale said at the time. Continue Reading →