As the coronavirus pandemic pummeled demand from key customers in the auto industry, Russia’s biggest mining company quietly tightened its grip on the palladium market.
MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC was already the No. 1 miner of the metal used in autocatalysts, but the crisis has allowed it to gain market share. That’s because Nornickel’s Russian operations have barely missed a beat, while its main rivals in South Africa are struggling to ramp up production aftershuttering mines during a national virus lockdown.
“Norilsk Nickel has always been considered as the last company to die,” said Artem Bagdasaryan, an analyst at BCS Global Markets. “The pandemic only highlights it.”
Nornickel, whose shallower operations make it the industry’s lowest-cost producer, has so far maintained its 2020 palladium output guidance, a spokeswoman said. The miner on April 30 reiterated its 2.6 million to 2.8 million ounces guidance, which was originally issued in January, before the pandemic was declared.
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