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Ore export ban pushes nickel higher

Global – Improved demand from the mills has helped to inject some positive movement into stainless steel scrap prices over recent weeks, according to Recycling International’€™s latest nickel & stainless steel market analysis*.

Compared to our early-December report, prices for the 304 grade have climbed to US$ 1400-1450 per tonne while 316 values have extended to US$ 1930-1980. Chrome scrap has followed this upward trend, with 409 prices rising to US$ 410-450 per tonne and the 430 grade to US$ 510-550.

News that the Indonesian export ban on nickel ores was indeed taking effect from the middle of January prompted the metal to a high of US$ 14 750 per tonne before returning to US$ 14 700. Nickel prices have surged around 8% since news of the ore export ban but some retrenchment is now likely as no shortage is anticipated in the nickel market for 2014.

According to latest figures from the International Nickel Study Group, the surplus between primary nickel production and usage in the first 11 months of last year was 180 000 tonnes – a figure never seen before.

*The full nickel & stainless steel market analysis will appear in the January/February 2014 issue of Recycling International.

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