Base metals recovery will have to wait another year

S&P Global Market Intelligence has revised down forecasts for base metals due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Base metals recovery will have to wait another year Base metals recovery will have to wait another year Base metals recovery will have to wait another year Base metals recovery will have to wait another year Base metals recovery will have to wait another year

MiningNews.net is making some of its most important coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic freely available to readers. For more coverage, please see our COVID-19 hub. To subscribe to MiningNews.net, click here.

Speaking on a webcast, S&P commodity analyst Jason Sappor said global gross domestic product was forecast to slow to just 0.4% growth in 2020.

That's far more optimistic than the latest International Monetary Fund forecast of negative 3% growth this year.

S&P sees Chinese GDP growth falling from 6.1% in 2019 to just 2.9%, which would impact base metals.

"The negative pressure on demand is already manifesting itself," Sappor said.

Sappor said S&P saw a "significant" impact to copper demand.

It downgraded its 2020 price forecast from US$6100 per tonne to $5850/t, about $1000/t higher than where copper is currently trading at.

Sappor said there was upside risk in copper due to mine closures.

S&P expects zinc to average $2065/t, representing an 18% year-on-year drop in price.

Sappor noted that zinc's primary end user was car makers.

"The global automotive sector has suffered particularly due to coronavirus," he said.

S&P is forecasting a zinc surplus of 95,000 tonnes in 2020. The International Lead Zinc Study Group's data indicated a zinc deficit of 189,000t in 2019.

In nickel, after a 30,000t deficit last year, S&P was forecasting that number to increase to 95,000t this year.

It now forecasts a slight surplus of 11,000t, with the price to average $12,036/t, down 14% from 2019.

Sappor said S&P had previously been most bullish on nickel due after Indonesia brought forward its export ban by two years.

"We now believe the pandemic will derail the 2020 bull market story that was expected to result from the ban," he said.

He said upside could come from suspensions in the Philippines.

Iron ore is expected to average $79.20/t this year, while gold is forecast to average $1530 an ounce - with both currently trading well above those levels.

S&P believes the pandemic will peak mid-year, with a strong recovery in equities forecast to come three months later.

  • Top News: Vale Terry Grammer. Read more.
  • Top News: SolGold's relationship with BHP, Newcrest not 'soured'. Read more.
  • Top News: Nickel Mines becomes 'new force in global nickel'. Read more.