Nickel drops to lowest point in more than a decade

Nickel has slumped to its lowest level in nearly 13 years as Chinese demand continues to recede.

It slipped 3.2 per cent overnight to US$7900 per tonne on the LME, according to Bloomberg.

This continued reduction comes on the back of faltering Chinese steel production, which itself has fell 7.2 per cent in December from November.

In 2015 the overall value of nickel fell 41.8 per cent, after rising 6.91 per cent in 2014 – the first lift for the metal since 2010.

Over the last month the metal fell 7.9 per cent, and has been the worst performing metal of the year to date.

This shrinking in value has seen a swathe of operations cut workers and shutter operations.

Anglo American has been rumoured to make a complete withdrawal from its Brazilian nickel assets earlier this year, after it announced plans to divest from non-core assets.

Closer to home nickel miners Panoramic Resources and Independence Group have both cut jobs and halted exploration.

Panoramic has suspended operations at its Savannah mine, only a few months after it shut down its Lafranchi nickel mine.

The company said the decision to issue redundancies was regrettable and unfortunate, but unavoidable in the face of the current US nickel price environment.

Independence Group blamed ongoing weakness in the nickel price as the impetus behind 30 exploration jobs cuts, only months after a new mine plan was created.

Another local nickel miner, Mincor Resources, is also seeing rumours abound on future job losses at its site, with 20 to 30 workers believed to be on the chopping block for next month.

The most prominent nickel collapse of late has been the closure of Clive Palmer’s Queensland Nickel Yabulu refinery, which saw 237 workers made redundant.                                                                                                                                  

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