Weekly Metals News Digest (Jan 29 – Feb 2)

Norilsk Nickel Sustains Production Amidst Challenges

Norilsk Nickel, a leading metal producer, disclosed its annual production figures for 2023, demonstrating resilience amidst challenges. Nickel production saw a modest decline of 5% to 209 thousand tonnes, attributed to reduced raw material extraction and the integration of new mining equipment from suppliers. However, nickel output from its operations nearly matched the forecasted range for 2023. Copper production remained steady at 356 thousand tonnes, aligning with projections despite a minor 2% drop due to process adjustments. In contrast, palladium production decreased by 4% to 2.692 million troy ounces, while platinum saw a 2% increase to 664 thousand troy ounces, surpassing expectations. Despite market downturns, Norilsk Nickel maintained stable production levels and anticipates a slightly conservative output for 2024 to ensure financial stability amidst global market fluctuations.

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SK Nexilis Aims to Boost Electric Transport in Poland

SK Nexilis is progressing with the construction of a copper foil plant in Poland, essential for electric vehicle batteries, with the project 60% complete as of 2021. CEO Ki Young Do highlighted recent favorable changes in EU investment conditions and expressed hope for Polish government support to lead in electric transport. However, skepticism about the EU’s electric vehicle production prospects, particularly in Poland, raises concerns about the project’s future, given its significant investment of nearly $700 million.

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London Metal Exchange Eyes Expansion into China

The London Metal Exchange (LME) is considering establishing a warehouse in Hong Kong as a strategic move to expand into China, the world’s largest non-ferrous metal producer. Despite criticism over high real estate costs and the political climate, the LME’s potential expansion reflects its ambition to strengthen its global presence, especially since its acquisition by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing 14 years ago without establishing any warehouses in China.

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Norsk Hydro’s Expansion Plans in Spain

Norsk Hydro plans to construct a new plant in Torija, Spain, for recycling scrap into secondary aluminium alloys, aiming for a production capacity of 120 thousand tonnes per year. This initiative, representing a €180 million investment, aims to produce low carbon footprint alloys for the construction and automotive industries. This move comes as Alcoa struggles with its primary aluminium smelter in Spain due to high electricity costs.

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Pentagon’s Artificial Intelligence Initiative

The Pentagon is developing an AI program to forecast the supply and price dynamics of critical commodities like cobalt and nickel. This initiative responds to the volatile nature of non-ferrous metal prices, which can significantly impact military equipment costs. The program aims to improve market surveillance and transparency, potentially reshaping the global non-ferrous metals market through advanced technological intelligence.

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