Nickel and palladium surge on the back of supply constraints

The past few years have generally been tough for the miners, especially for investors that joined the electric vehicle (EV) metal miners boom at its first peak (January 2018). However, all is not lost. For nimble investors, there are some great gains to be made when metal prices spike, but you need to be not too late to the party. Right now two metals are rising fast on supply constraints and strong demand. Furthermore, they should continue to do well for some time. In many cases, the associated miners have been slow to reflect the gains as investor sentiment has been weighed down by the trade war. This leaves some incredible buys for those willing to invest.

Those two metals are nickel and palladium.

Nickel

As we can see below the nickel price has recently surged reaching US$18,000/t. This is mostly due to the Indonesian nickel ore export ban to commence January 2020, as well as the Philippines indefinitely suspending nickel mining in southern Philippines (27% of overall Philippine nickel ore exports are from this area).

Nickel supply reductions from the two largest nickel producing countries (Indonesia and Philippines represent 45% of global nickel supply) and an EV led demand surge are combining to cause nickel deficits and a nickel price spike, as shown below.

Add in resilient nickel demand and soon a surge in EV related demand and you have the recipe for a nickel boom.

Nickel 5 year price chart

EV related demand for class 1 nickel is set to surge more than tenfold from end 2018 to 2025, or increase from 36,000 tonnes in 2018 to 350,000-500,000 tonnes by 2025. In a 2 million tonne total nickel market, a 500,000 tonne increase represents a 25% increase just from the EV boom.

LME nickel inventory levels fell last week the most in 40 years

Just last week LME inventory levels fell the most in 40 years, as China’s Tsingshan Holding Group Co. bought 25,000 tonnes of LME nickel. Apparently a further 75,000 tons of metal are scheduled to be delivered out soon. That could send LME nickel below 50,000 tonnes and panic the market causing nickel prices to surge even higher.

Palladium

Palladium metal prices have doubled the past year and a half on the back of strong demand for palladium used in catalytic converters. The price is now over US$1,700/oz, significantly higher than gold at US$1,492/oz.

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