Base Metals Weekly Round-Up: Lead Posts 3.5 Year Lows

- March 13th, 2020

Base metal prices are plumbing new lows as commodities went down with the rest of global markets this week.

This week has seen the global stock markets ravaged as COVID-19 panic sets in; stock markets have entered bear market territory, travel is restricted between the US and Europe and gatherings are being banned over the world.

The panic that’s taking the global stock markets down has done a number on the base metals sector, with “Dr Copper” down to US$5,386 per metric ton as of Thursday (March 12) — down by more than 12 percent since the start of the year.

The red metal hasn’t been faring so great for the entirety of the year, having been trending down from its 2020 start of above US$6,000 since late January.

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Fellow base metal zinc had a false start up through this week, starting at US$1,925 per metric ton (which as of March 13 is the metal’s low for 2020), before jumping to US$1,999 and then slumping back down to US$1,926 by Thursday.

Nickel ended the week by posting new lows rather than flirting with them, falling to US$11,850 per metric ton on Thursday.

The metal’s Thursday value represented the first time nickel has been valued under US$12,000 since mid-2019.

Lead shared a story with nickel, making like a lead balloon and falling to new lows in 2020 at US$1,748 per metric ton.

Lead’s fall was notable for being the lowest the metal has been since mid-2016, with Thursday’s value representing three and a half-year lows.

In news from the sector, the coronavirus has been showing up in company activity besides warnings of disruption; in Canada, Copper Mountain Mining (TSX:CMMC,ASX:C6C) has put the brakes on capital works at its British Columbian mine and trimmed its guidance for the year in response to low metals prices.

Numbers wise, that means Copper Mountain is cutting its daily mining rate by 25 percent from the current 200,000 metric tons per day down to between 120,000 and 160,000 metric tons per day for the remainder of 2020.

For guidance, the company has revised its copper equivalent production for 2020 down to between 86 million and 94 million pounds from the originally forecast 100 million to 113 million pounds.

In a press release that buried the lede, Alta Zinc (ASX:AZI) reported that it would be suspending operations at its Gorno project in Northern Italy as a result of the outbreak. “Italy is battling COVID-19 with everything it has and as a company we will do our part to minimize the risk of potential virus transmission.”

The recent Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada convention in Toronto — the largest resources industry conference of its sort in the world — was hit by coronavirus fears on Tuesday, with reports that an attendee tested positive for COVID-19 upon their return to Sudbury, Ontario.

In a statement, PDAC recommended that Ontario health authorities conduct an investigation of the individual’s whereabouts and contacts throughout their two day attendance of the conference.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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