Is the rise in metal prices really so inevitable? We usually place considerable weight on articles appearing in Purchasing.com, but I have to take issue with a feature from yesterday which suggests metals will continue to rise on the back of power problems around the world. Certainly the first quarter of this year has seen it’s fair share of power problems, but many of them are unlikely to be repeated — nor was power the sole driver behind first quarter price rises. For example, the bad weather in China caused power problems, but it was a one in 50 year period of severe weather. Also, it is unlikely to be an issue going forward, serious as it was for aluminum, zinc and many ferro alloys. Power stations may be closed or run at reduced capacity for the Beijing Olympics, but so will the power hungry industries those power stations fed. The power problems affecting aluminum, precious metals and ferro alloy production in South Africa are more entrenched, but they were significantly exacerbated by heavy rains, as were the flooding of Queensland’s iron ore mines — neither of which is likely to be of such magnitude again in the coming months. Somehow I don’t see power being the deciding factor. It will have an influence in certain situations, but the extent to which demand continues to grow will be more of an issue.