Gold’s retreat during September may be hurting sentiment and iron ore and coking coal prices have come in for renewed punishment, but so far in 2017 the mining sector has been able to build on last year’s strong gains.
Gold and silver prices were just hanging onto double digit year-to-date gains at the end of Q3 while base metals – with the notable exception of tin – all looked robust.
Cobalt is up nearly 80% this year, while lead and zinc added 27% and 23% in value respectively. Bellwether copper, while retreating from three-year highs hit in Q3, is still trading within shouting distance of $3/pound.
After jumping 37% to end-September, palladium is the best performing precious metal and recently surpassed the platinum price for the first time since 2001. But the outlook for platinum may be improving, consensus forecast from economists, investment banks and other institutions point to a recovery for the precious metal through to the end of the year.
Perennial underperformer uranium – together with potash the only major mined commodity to lose value in 2016 – is also predicted to gain by the end of the year.
Other commodities will deteriorate from here however with both thermal and coking coal forecast to decline by more than 20% during Q4. Zinc, copper and lead and palladium are all expected to average around 10% below today’s ruling price over the final three months of the year.
Click on the graph below for a breakdown of forecasts and divergence from the spot price for selected metals and minerals for the fourth quarter: