Nickel Caps Biggest Monthly Gain in a Year on Mine Strike

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A worker prepares a nickel plate for a fuel cell .

A worker prepares a nickel plate for a fuel cell .

Photographer: Douglas Healey/Bloomberg

Nickel capped the biggest monthly gain in a year after talks to end a Colombian mine strike failed.

Nickel, which is used in stainless steel, jumped 13 percent in April. A union attorney said negotiations on ending a two-week strike over working hours stopped without a resolution at BHP Billiton Ltd.’s Cerro Matoso mine, the world’s second-biggest ferro-nickel mine. This month, the index of the six main prices on the London Metal Exchange gained the most since September 2012.

“The mine strike is another uncertainty for the nickel market,” Richard Fu, the director of Asian commodity trading at Societe Generale Newedge U.K. Ltd. in London, said in a telephone interview. “A halt in production would have a big influence over the price.”

Some shipments to customers were canceled, BHP said last week.

Nickel for delivery in three months rose 3.9 percent to settle at $13,950 a metric ton at 5:50 p.m. on the London Metal Exchange, the biggest gain since Oct. 28. The price has dropped 7.9 percent this year, partly because of increasing inventories.

The Philippines, the world’s top producer of nickel ore, won’t supply enough once China exhausts stockpiles built up before last year’s export ban by Indonesia, Manny Samson, Nickel Asia Corp.’s chief financial officer, said in a telephone interview on April 28.

Prices may climb to $16,000, Samson said. Nickel Asia is based in Makati in the Philippines.

Copper Rally

On the LME, copper for delivery in three months jumped 3.1 percent, the most since March 20, to $6,335 a ton ($2.87 a pound). The metal climbed for the sixth straight session, the longest rally since June 23, and posted a third monthly increase, the longest run since July.

On Thursday, aluminum, lead, zinc and tin climbed in London. The LME gauge of six metals capped a 6.8 percent advance this month, and erased losses for the year.

On the Comex in New York, copper futures for July delivery added 3.1 percent to $2.8865 a pound, erasing this year’s loss. The price gained 5.3 percent in April.

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