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Nickel prices keep slumping even as mines close

Nickel futures continued to edge lower on the London Metal Exchange, despite a slew of announcements by companies cutting production in response to a collapse in prices.

The metal used in stainless steel and electric-vehicle batteries is down more than 40% from a year ago amid a growing global glut. The market has been flooded with a wave of new material from top producer Indonesia at a time when demand growth has faded.

The impact on the mining industry has been brutal. On Monday, billionaire Andrew Forrest’s nickel producer Wyloo Metals Pty Ltd. said it’s shutting down mines. BHP Group and First Quantum Minerals Ltd. are also being hit, while a raft of smaller producers have been forced to halt construction or fall into administration.

“The pressures in the global nickel market are becoming increasingly apparent,” said Colin Hamilton, managing director for commodities research at BMO Capital Markets Ltd.

“We have noted that further temporary or permanent capacity cuts were required to balance the nickel market following last year’s surplus, but it is yet to be seen whether sufficient adjustment has taken place,” he said.

Inventories of nickel have surged almost 90% since June on the London Metal Exchange, rebounding from a decade-low level.

LME nickel declined 0.2% to close at $16,007 a ton on Monday. Copper was little changed at $8,345.50 a ton on the LME, while most other metals also declined.

 

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