David Hargreaves on Metals and Minerals, week 5 2012

Metals and mineralsA good week on the ‘change for those who want metal prices higher. The forecasters, even so, are remaining cautious. We now hear it for copper at $8200/t in 2012, compared with today’s $8600, itself almost 5% up on the week. Warehouse stock levels are behaving predictably. The over-supplied aluminium stays relentlessly above 5,000,000 tonnes despite further producer cutbacks whilst poor old zinc saw levels rise almost 10% to nudge 850,000 tonnes. Tin, which we featured last week, remains in self denial. LME stocks fell a further 9% to 9,665 tonnes, its lowest in years. The price reacted with an even better bounce, 11.5% to $24,300/t. But this is way short of its artificial high of over $33,000/t of late 2010 – early 2011. It was this short lived spike (it spent years below $10,000) which prompted the largest exporter, Indonesia, to think happy times were here to stay. So it has cut back on production (27% of world total) and self –imposed an export ban (37% fall). This might work for a while, but we shall all know there is a tap just waiting to be turned back on.

Now what about China? It produces 41% of all tin yet still imports 7% of it. So almost half of world demand by 20% of the population. What will it be when the GDP approaches Euro levels? It’s an awful lot of baked bean cans.

Metal stocks in LME warehouses and commodity price movements

About David Hargreaves

David Hargreaves

David Hargreaves

David Hargreaves is a mining engineer with over forty years of senior experience in the industry. After qualifying in coal mining he worked in the iron ore mines of Quebec and Northwest Ontario before diversifying into other bulk minerals including bauxite. He was Head of Research for stockbrokers James Capel in London from 1974 to 1977 and voted Mining Analyst of the year on three successive occasions.

Since forming his own metals broking and research company in 1977, he has successfully promoted and been a director of several public companies. He currently writes “The Week in Mining”, an incisive review of world mining events, for stockbrokers WH Ireland. David’s research pays particular attention to steel via the iron ore and coal supply industries. He is a Chartered Mining Engineer, Fellow of the Geological Society and the Institute of Mining, Minerals and Materials, and a Member of the Royal Institution. His textbook, “The World Index of Resources and Population” accurately predicted the exponential rise in demand for steel industry products.

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