Base Metals Weekly Round-Up: Zinc Prices Rally on Supply Worries

- April 5th, 2019

What happened in the base metals space this week? Here’s a look at the top stories covered by the Investing News Network.

After a drop from the US$3,000 per tonne mark at the beginning of the week, zinc prices spent the next few days rallying on the back of short-term supply worries.

The commodity saw gains from supply concerns last week as well, with stockpiles opening at 56,425 tonnes on March 27. Reuters reported that this marked zinc’s lowest inventory level since 1991. Zinc stocks opened on the London Metal Exchange (LME) at 50,875 tonnes on Thursday (April 4).

On the flipside, copper prices experienced a small drop as inventories blossomed; according to Reuters, stockpiles in LME warehouses hit their highest point in six months on Friday (April 5). Inventories opened on Thursday at 198,325 tonnes at a price of US$6,443 per tonne, down from Monday’s US$6,497 mark.

Meanwhile, nickel prices zigzagged through the week, starting off on Monday (April 1) at US$13,150 per tonne and ending Thursday at US$13,040. Lead spent the week recovering after a US$47 drop from Monday to Tuesday (April 2), eventually reaching US$1,987.50 per tonne by Thursday.

As for iron ore, it was down 0.78 percent as of 4:46 a.m. EDT on Friday, reaching US$91.81 per tonne.

Top base metals news stories

1. Fortescue Moves Forward on US$2.6 Billion Iron Bridge Project

Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG,OTCQX:FSUGY) has greenlit the second stage of the Iron Bridge magnetite project in Western Australia, which is set to cost a whopping US$2.6 billion.

The fresh approval covers the development of Iron Bridge’s second stage, which comes after the successful US$500 million construction of Stage 1’s large-scale pilot and demonstration plants.

Through their construction, key equipment and magnetite production processes were validated for Stage 2’s full-scale ore-processing facility.

2. Tropical Cyclone Veronica Hits BHP, Rio’s Iron Ore Production

In the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Veronica, mining majors Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO,NYSE:RIO,LSE:RIO) and BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BHP) have announced the production impacts their Western Australian operations will see this year.

In a statement released Monday, Rio explained that its iron ore operations in Western Australia’s Pilbara region are steadily coming back to life now that Veronica has passed through the area.

Initial inspections revealed that Rio’s Cape Lambert A port facility sustained damage from the cyclone, causing the company to declare force majeure on some of its contracts.

3. First Quantum to Expand Cobre Panama for US$327 Million

First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM,OTC Pink:FQVLF) released a technical report that lays out the company’s plans for expanding its Cobre Panama copper development project by 15 million tonnes per year.

The company has been making slow but steady progress at the Central American asset, with the first introduction of ore to the project’s processing plant having happened in February.

As First Quantum continues to ramp up efforts throughout the year, it is now looking to the future with fresh expansion plans.

Also in the news

On Thursday, Antofagasta (LSE:ANTO) announced the completion of the financing process for its Los Pelambres expansion project, which has a price tag of US$1.3 billion. The cost is being debt financed through two tranches, one being US$425 million with a 10 year term from Japan Bank for International Cooperation, and the other being $875 million with a seven year term from multiple international banks.

Meanwhile, Atalaya Mining (TSX:AYM) released its 2018 year-end results this week, which saw the company’s yearly profit hit 34.44 million euros, an 89 percent jump from 2017. Atalaya also reported having produced 42,114 tonnes of copper from its Proyecto Riotinto operation in Andalucía, Spain.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Olivia Da Silva, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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