After a strong start to 2018 following a 22% rally last year, nickel’s fall has also been swift, with the metal mainly used in steelmaking down 30% from its summer highs. Zinc and lead have reversed most of their 2017 gains while tin is the only base metal with a shot at ending the year in positive territory. The London Metal Exchange index is set to suffer its first down year since 2015.
Copper producers have been the worst hit in the mining sector this year, with US-based Freeport-McMoRan declining 47% from its 2018 peak. Toronto’s First Quantum Minerals is trading 53% below its 52-week high. Peru-focused Southern Copper Corp has dropped 46% since the summer while the decline for London-listed Antofagasta is 36%.
Among the diversifieds, Rio Tinto is also in bear market territory, but BHP has fared better – containing share price decline to 10% compared to the counter’s year high. Like the Anglo-Australian giants, Brazil’s Vale – down 18% from its 2018 high – has benefited from a relatively strong iron ore price, comprising the bulk of earnings for mining’s Big 3.