LONDON - The London Metal Exchange (LME) said on Thursday it had approved nickel produced by Quzhou Huayou Cobalt New Material, a subsidiary of China's Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, as a list brand and expects more brand applications in coming months.
It is the first new approved brand for delivery against the LME nickel contract since the exchange cut the waiting time for listing as part of its programme to revive nickel trade volumes after a 2022 crisis.
The volumes slumped after LME prices doubled in a matter of hours in disorderly trade on March 8, 2022, prompting the world's largest and oldest metals forum to suspend its nickel market for the first time since 1988 and cancel all nickel trades on that day.
The volumes have revived since then as some market players returned to the contract but the timing of the full recovery is still uncertain.
"We expect to see more fast-track applications come through in the coming months," the LME, owned by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, said.
Industry sources have said that the fast-track applications could help to boost LME nickel liquidity, though it would take more than one new brand to address the issue of nickel inventories in the LME-registered warehouses which are at their lowest since 2007.
So-called Class 1 metal - that can be delivered against the LME contract - amounts to only around 18% of global supplies estimated at around 3.3-million tonnes this year.
"Given the expected growth in Nickel Class 1 production from new sources, the LME's fast-track approach and fee waiver for new LME Nickel brands aims to encourage more stock and liquidity to the contract, without relaxing our metallurgical or responsible sourcing requirements," LME said.