TOKYO -- The nickel market has been undergoing wild swings this year, pummeled by Indonesia's move to relax an export ban but later buoyed by expectations of a supply decrease from the Philippines.
The Philippines said last Thursday that it will close mines responsible for roughly half of the country's nickel output. Three-month nickel futures on the London Metal Exchange closed at $10,450 per ton on Monday, climbing 11% from their most recent low on Jan. 27.
Prior to the announcement, prices had been falling. Nickel futures had lost 11% from mid-January through the end of the month following Indonesia's decision to ease a nickel ore export ban instituted in 2014. Indonesia used to produce 30% of the world's nickel.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is tightening regulations for mine operations as he pledges improvements in environmental protection. Last summer, the Philippine government also ordered several mines to halt production. "The scale is larger this time, and may push up prices further," according to an official at a Japanese trading house.