Metal prices re-enter volatile phase

March 29, 2011

Most metal prices fell in the middle of 2010 only to start a steep rise in the second half of the year and on into the first quarter of 2011 as global demand increased.

The price of tungsten carbide powder (WC 3-4 microns), the key element in PM cemented carbide products, has been heavily impacted by the surge in ammonium paratungstate (APT) costs, seeing a kilogram of WC rise from $28 to $52 over the year to March 2011. APT prices have doubled in the same period to $400/mtu.

LME copper prices dropped to around $6000/t early in 2010 but have since increased to $9695/t in March 2011. Likewise nickel and molybdenum which tumbled to $18,000/t and $29,000/t respectively in the middle of the year, surged to $27,000/t and $35,800/t respectively by March 24, 2011.

Only cobalt has remained relatively stable at $36,000/t after hitting a peak of $44,000/t at the end of 2010. Neodymium metal which is a key element in NdFeB magnets surged from $48/kg early in 2010 to over $220/kg in March this year. The LME has also started quoting prices for steel billets which at one point fell to $400/t in 2010 before regaining some ground to reach $546/t in March 2011.

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