Base Metals - The Resource Quiet Achievers
Without much fanfare in the mainstream media, base metals have enjoyed a solid start to 2016, with only lead (-3%) in negative territory. Whilst the likes of zinc (+28%) and tin (+16%) have rallied, with steel-making raw materials iron ore (+24%) and coking coal (+12%) rebounding solidly (albeit from highly depressed levels), nickel's rise has been somewhat less conspicuous (+18%). Nevertheless, this is still only half the level it was back in early 2014, when Indonesia's ban on ore exports led to a price spike. But things could be about to change rapidly, with prices hitting their highest level in nearly eight months due to supply concerns related to The Philippines. The country's new mining minister is a committed environmentalist and has announced plans to review all mines operating in the country. The Philippines is currently the biggest supplier of nickel ore to China. LME inventory levels have recently been falling and in a new report on the prospects for nickel, BMI Research says "the market will gradually begin to tighten as elevated Chinese imports start to erode global stockpiles."
Gavin has been a senior resources analyst following the mining and energy sectors for the past 25 years, working with Intersuisse and Fat Prophets. He is also the Executive Director, Mining & Metals with Independent Investment Research (IIR).