Threat of Colombian mine strike boosts nickel

Nickel rose for the first time in three sessions as workers at a BHP Billiton Plc. mine in Colombia threatened to go on strike, spurring supply concerns.

Employees opposing the extension of work shift to 12 hours from eight hours may walk out if the Colombia ministry of labor does not intervene, the union said yesterday. A nickel supply deficit may widen to as much as 107,000 metric tons next year after Indonesia banned shipments of unprocessed ores in January, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Oliver Nugent and Kenneth Hoffman.

The metal climbed “due to labor unrest at some mine facilities,” Michael Turek, a senior director at Societe Generale’s Newedge Group in New York, said in an e-mail.

On the London Metal Exchange, nickel for delivery in three months advanced 1.2% to $15,428 a ton at 5:18 p.m. The price dropped 1.6% in the previous two sessions. Through yesterday, the commodity climbed 9.7% this year.

Copper, aluminum, lead, zinc and tin rose today on the LME.

On the Comex in New York, copper futures for December delivery climbed 0.4% to $3.031 a pound.