Amazing price action this week, for a metal we don’t hear much about.

Ruthenium.

Rates for this platinum group metal surged over the weekend, according to data from Platts. With an ounce of ruthenium going for as much as $65, up a full 30% from the high price of $50/oz that prevailed just the week before.

In fact, traders reported some sales going through at up to $68/oz — suggesting that upward pressure is continuing in the market.

The big price move came as a surprise to most observers in this space. With the ruthenium market having been very sleepy the last few years — evident from the price chart below.

Ruthenium

The average ruthenium price is down 62.5% over the last five years (source: U.S. Geological Survey)

Ruthenium

This week’s increased prices are the highest the market has seen in a long while. Representing a 2.5-year high.

So what’s behind this massive leap? Traders aren’t 100% sure — but did say that offers of the metal appear to have nearly vanished, while buying from Asian nations like China has increased considerably over the last several days.

Some market specialists said that end users had become “complacent” over the last two years of low prices. Keeping little supply in inventory because they could go into the market and buy whenever they needed.

But that situation appears to have reversed dramatically. With sources saying that several miners in South Africa — the world’s go-to PGM supplier — are now completely sold out of ruthenium for “a couple of months”.

That sudden disappearance of supply has reportedly shocked buyers into action. Watch for more upward movement in the ruthenium price over the coming weeks — with traders in Asia saying that $80/oz may be coming quickly. If so, this would be one of the hottest markets going anywhere in mining.

Here’s to the little guys,

Dave Forest

Article by Pierce Points