Archive | Nickel

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

https://uk.reuters.com/

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 →

Ontario renewed funding push for Ring of Fire roads as viability of venture questioned – by Niall McGee and Jeff Gray (Globe and Mail – November 4, 2019)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

The Ontario government appealed to Ottawa this summer to split a $1.6-billion construction bill for roads into the Ring of Fire region, despite mounting evidence the minerals project in the province’s North isn’t economically viable.

Documents reviewed by The Globe and Mail show that Greg Rickford, Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, sent an e-mail in July to a number of federal ministers asking for Ottawa to kick in as much as $779-million to roughly match Ontario’s contribution.

As part of his business case for investing in the Ring of Fire, Mr. Rickford referenced a number of often-cited huge financial projections about the project that have no supporting evidence. Continue Reading →

Minnesota Supreme Court won’t take up copper-nickel mining rules – by Jimmy Lovrien (Duluth News Tribune – October 29, 2019)

https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/

The Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear a challenge by environmental groups over the state’s copper-nickel mining rules.

Environmental groups argue the Department of Natural Resources’ rules regulating the mining of metals that do not contain iron — such as copper, nickel and other precious metals — were too vague and, therefore, unenforceable. The DNR maintains the rules were strong yet flexible.

But in August, Minnesota Court of Appeals unanimously upheld those rules, and called the DNR’s non-ferrous rules “valid.” Six environment groups had filed the original appeal, but only two groups, the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, petitioned the Supreme Court to review the case after the Court of Appeals upheld the rules. 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)

https://www.reuters.com/

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)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

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 →

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

https://www.reuters.com/

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 →

On ‘Island’ in Russian Arctic, Arrival of Fast Internet Shakes Political Calm – by Anton Troianovski (New York Times – October 21, 2019)

https://www.nytimes.com/

Residents of Norilsk long felt isolated from their country’s turbulence. Then a mining company strung a fiber-optic cable across 600 miles of tundra.

NORILSK, Russia — On a screen, the California sun beams through the palm fronds and the Walk of Fame gleams underfoot. This island of mines and smokestacks in the tundra has high-speed internet now, so Andrei Kurchukov watches videos about America.

Videos by one of his favorite YouTube personalities, Marina Mogilko, feature interviews with fellow Russian expatriates in the United States. “Los Angeles,” she tells her one million followers, is “where Russian dreams come true.” “I watch her and think, alas,” Mr. Kurchukov said. “So what we’re showing about the rotting West is false.”

Closed to foreigners, unreachable by road and shrouded in darkness for 45 days a year, Norilsk, an Arctic nickel-mining hub of 180,000, is Russia’s most isolated major city. Lacking reliable digital communication with the rest of the country — “the continent,” they call it — residents used to fly home with external hard drives full of downloaded books and movies after their trips out. Continue Reading →

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

https://www.reuters.com/

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)

https://www.forbes.com/

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 →

OPINION: The Ring of Fire bulldozer is here. Will it work? – by Charles Cirtwill (Northern Ontario Business – October 2, 2019)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

It is possible, after all, to see the Ring of Fire as the only option for a new future for many communities.

During the provincial election, then candidate (now Premier) Doug Ford famously promised to come to the Ring of Fire and drive a bulldozer if that was what was needed to get the development moving. With the abandonment of the Framework Agreement and the return to individual nation-to-nation arrangements, he has done just that.

It is clear that the province has determined, after years of effort by at least three different governments, that the way forward is in working with willing partners. In this way, key pieces of infrastructure can be put in place while negotiations continue in other parts of the region. In the end, the hope would be that the pieces fit together into a cohesive whole.

It is equally clear that at least some of the First Nations in the region share this view. This may be because of their relative need for new investment. It is possible, after all, to see the Ring of Fire as the only option for a new future for many communities. Continue Reading →

A Brief History of the Nickel – by Daniel A. Gross (Smithsonian Magazine – April 28, 2016)

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/

In honor of the coin’s 150th anniversary, read up on how the nickel came to be minted

The nickel wasn’t always worth five cents. In 1865, the U.S. nickel was a three-cent coin. Before that, “nickel cents” referred to alloy pennies. It turns out that even the name “nickel” is misleading. “Actually, nickels should be called ‘coppers,’” says coin expert Q. David Bowers. Today’s so-called nickels are 75 percent copper.

Those aren’t the only surprises hidden in the history of the nickel. The story of America’s five-cent coin is, strangely enough, a war story. And 150 years since it was first minted in 1866, the modest nickel serves as a window into the symbolic and practical importance of coinage itself.

To understand how the nickel got its name, you have to go back to an era when precious metals reigned supreme. In the 1850s, coins of any real value were made of gold and silver. In the event of a financial crisis—or worse, the collapse of a government—precious metal coins could always be melted down. They had intrinsic value. Continue Reading →

Electric-Car Dreams Could Fall a Nickel Short – by Rhiannon Hoyle (Wall Street Journal – September 29, 2019)

https://www.wsj.com/

Demand for a form of nickel needed in electric-vehicle batteries is starting to outpace supply

SYDNEY—Global producers of electric cars have big ambitions and a bigger problem: Supplies of a key material are running short.

Nickel sulfate is a brilliantly colored crystalline substance used in electric-vehicle batteries. The ore most commonly used to produce it is mined in only a handful of places—and they include some of the most politically or operationally challenging, such as Russia or Canada’s frozen Northeast.

Nickel sulfate accounts for just a fraction of global nickel sales; about 70% of nickel is used in stainless steel. But auto makers will launch more than 200 new plug-in electric vehicles through 2023, consulting firm AlixPartners estimates—and that isn’t counting hybrids. UBS expects batteries in electric vehicles to account for 12% of global nickel demand by then, up from 3% in 2018. 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)

https://www.nytimes.com/

“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 →

BNC finalising takeover bids amid Tagwirei shadow – by Alois Vinga (New Zimbabwe – September 27, 2019)

https://www.newzimbabwe.com/

AFRICA’s only integrated nickel mining company Bindura Nickel Corporation (BNC) is in the final stages of evaluating a takeover bids process which is set for finality in the next two weeks.

This comes amid reports that a firm linked to under-fire oil mogul Kudakwashe Tagwirei is set to acquire the mining giant. Speaking to shareholders Thursday, BNC chairman Muchadeyi Masunda said the process is going on smoothly.

“Joint administrators are evaluating various bids that have been submitted while the prospective investors are carrying out due diligence in respect of the assets owned by ASA Resources,” he said. Continue Reading →

Vale’s digital evolution takes shape: Sudbury nickel miner moving to world’s largest underground wireless network – by Len Gillis (Northern Ontario Business – September 19, 2019)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Vale Canada Ltd. is charging forward to provide LTE communications in its Canadian underground mining operations. In some cases, this will be an all new level of wireless communication, while in other cases it will mean switching away from existing Wi-Fi.

Vale said this means the company will soon be operating the largest privately owned underground LTE network in the world. LTE, or long-term evolution, is a higher form of wireless communications that most people associate with their cellular phones. In the mines, LTE will support a host of wireless devices and live connections to people and mobile equipment.

Vale described their new LTE system as an enabler, something that will allow the company to carry out significant changes for integrated operations scheduling, autonomous and tele-remote mining machines and huge efficiencies and cost savings for underground mine ventilation systems. Continue Reading →