Despite Weekend Drop, Western Areas’ Lougher Says Nickel is Reaping Price Rewards

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Nickel prices fell by more than 50 percent in 2008 due to the global financial crisis, with over a dozen mines going into care and maintenance in Western Australia alone. But recent market conditions, mineral export bans in Indonesia and political uncertainty in Ukraine have seen prices rise by almost 20 percent this year.

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Dan Lougher, CEO of Western Australia miner Western Areas, says he’s been waiting a long time, but finally nickel is back.

“We’ve come through tough times, so I would imagine we will be a little bit reluctant to just jump in and start expanding instantaneously,” Lougher told Australia’s ABC Rural.

The spot price of nickel saw a 3.9 percent drop on the LME on Friday, May 30, landing at $18,740 per metric ton and making it the biggest mover of the day. On the LME, the nickel 3-month price fell 3.4 percent to $18,820 per metric ton. The Indian nickel cash price weakened by 0.3 percent, settling at INR 1,122 ($19.04) per kilogram.

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Chinese stainless steel closed mixed last Friday. For the fifth day in a row, the price of Chinese ferro-chrome remained essentially flat at CNY 8,300 ($1,331) per metric ton. The price of Chinese ferro-moly saw essentially no change for the fifth day in a row, remaining around CNY 145,000 ($23,245) per metric ton.

After a 0.5 percent increase, the price of Chinese primary nickel finished the day at CNY 133,100 ($21,337) per metric ton. The Allegheny Ludlum 316 stainless surcharge saw little change in its price last Friday at $1.29 per pound. The price of Chinese 316 stainless coil held steady at CNY 26,000 ($4,168) per metric ton. The price of Chinese 304 stainless coil saw little movement at CNY 16,400 ($2,629) per metric ton. The price of Chinese 316 stainless steel scrap remained essentially flat at CNY 16,100 ($2,581) per metric ton.

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