LONDON: Aluminium and nickel jumped on Thursday, with buying triggered by the possibility of the London Metal Exchange (LME) banning new Russian metal from the list of brands that can be delivered against the exchange’s contracts.
Benchmark aluminium climbed more than 8.5% to $2,305 a tonne, its highest since Sept. 19, while nickel gained 6% to $23,115.
Sources said the LME was planning to discuss banning nickel produced by Nornickel, which accounted for 7% of global mined production estimated at 2.7 million tonnes last year, and aluminium produced by Rusal.
Rusal, the world’s largest aluminium producer outside China, accounts for 6% of global supplies estimated at about 70 million tonnes this year.
Rusal and Nornickel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Western countries have impose sanctions on Russian banks and wealthy individuals connected to President Vladimir Putin since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but so far there are no restrictions on buying Russian metal.
A ban on Russian metal could lead to shortages and further price surges at a time of rising inflation around the world.
“A ban would take a hefty bite out of Western supplies,” one trader said. “But the LME can’t really take unilateral action. Russian producers would have to be sanctioned.” Suspending new deliveries of Russian metal could fuel a jump in prices similar to that seen after the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Rusal and the LME delisted its aluminium in 2018.
Aluminium prices jumped 30% in only a few days after the move.
Other industrial metals traded on the LME also rose on a wave of buying triggered by the gains in aluminium and nickel.
Copper was up 1.6% at $7,540 a tonne at 1600 GMT, aluminium rose 3.4.% at $2,195, zinc added 3.3% to $2,948, lead firmed 2.1% to $1,875 and nickel was up 2.4% at $22,340, while tin slipped 0.9% to $20,540.