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Vale closure spurs higher nickel offers

Keywords: Tags  nickel premiums, melting grade, plating grade, Thorsten Schier

NEW YORK — Nickel market participants are already reporting higher inter-trade offers for plating-grade metal as premiums are expected to rise next year due to the announced closure of Vale SA’s refinery in Thompson, Manitoba.

"It’s going to be a little bit tight next year in the plating market. (Customers) understand that prices are going to be changing," according to one trader, who recently received an offer from a supplier well above current market levels for plating material.

For melting-grade nickel, sources said contract talks are stretching out further than last year.

"There’s a lot that we haven’t finalized yet. Last year at this time people had already committed. They’re holding off because they don’t know the tons to commit to," one supplier said.

Most sources agreed that contract premiums for melting material in 2013 would, at best, be flat or lower than 2012 levels, in line with previous estimates (, Oct. 24).

The spot market for melting-grade material was unusually busy over the course of the week, with transactions reported across AMM’s range of 20 to 26 cents per pound on Nov. 21.

Sales of significant tonnages were between 20 and 25 cent per pound, while one deal for less than a truckload was reported above 30 cents per pound.

Transactions for small loads were in a wide range, with palette-type quantities reportedly sold as low as 30 cents and as high as 55 cents per pound.

"It’s a good mix of people just requiring nickel," the first trader said.

One reseller said he had bought some nickel recently to replenish his stocks.

Spot plating premiums remained unchanged at 45 to 55 cents per pound with little confirmed business.

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