According to CCTV.com, with the escalation of the situation in Russia and Ukraine, the prices of metals such as nickel and aluminum in the international market have continued to hit new highs. The key raw materials such as nickel and aluminum required in the manufacturing process of electric vehicle batteries in South Korea are highly dependent on imports. As a major exporter of nickel and aluminum, the escalating conflict between Russia and Ukraine has made the prices of various metals soar.
Data show that the spot price of nickel on the London Metal Exchange (LME) exceeds $25,000 per ton. This is the new record high in nearly a decade. After rising 25% in 2021, nickel prices have risen by around 18% this year. Nickel stocks at LME warehouses fell to 82,300 tonnes from more than 260,000 tonnes in April last year, with the premium for spot nickel over the three-month contract reaching its highest level since 2009.
The London Metal Exchange (LME) aluminum price also hit its highest point since 2008 this week. After rising 42% in 2021, aluminum prices have risen by around 17% this year. Aluminum inventories in LME warehouses fell to 835,100 tonnes from nearly 2 million tonnes in March last year. Also, the premium for spot aluminum over the three-month contract is close to the highest since 2018.
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According to the Shanghai Shenyin & Wanguo Securities Research Institute, Russia is the world’s major exporter of aluminum, nickel, palladium, and platinum. Russia’s aluminum, nickel, palladium, and platinum exports account for 12%, 7%, 26%, and 4% of global export trade respectively. In addition, its aluminum, nickel, palladium, and platinum exports to Europe account for 16%, 42%, 45%, and 36% of global exports to Europe respectively. Furthermore, Russia’s output of magnesium ingots accounts for about 8% of the global output.
Russia – Ukraine crisis to affect prices
The situation in Russia and Ukraine may have a certain impact on the global supply of non-ferrous metals. The likes of aluminum, nickel, palladium, platinum, etc. will not have a normal supply. The crisis will most likely push up the prices of relevant products.
Ukraine supplies neon gas for semiconductor manufacturing, while Russia is one of the producers of nickel ore. Nickel is a key material for electric vehicle batteries. Once the conflict heats up, the vehicle industry will bear more cost increases and supply chain instability. The development of new energy vehicles in 2022 will add variables.
Ukraine supplies the U.S. with more than 90% of its semiconductor-grade neon gas. Like we said earlier, this noble gas is essential for lasers used in chip manufacturing. According to market research firm Techcet, neon gas is a by-product of Russia’s steel industry and is purified in Ukraine. Currently, 35% of palladium in the United States comes from Russia, which is mainly used in sensor and memory manufacturing.