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2023 outlook

Metals and mining: is caution the watchword for 2023?

Margins cool for metals and mining in 2023. How will companies respond? And how does the picture vary across commodities? From aluminium to zinc, our experts share predictions for the coming year.

Get complimentary reports from our 2023 Outlook series, including:

  • Metals & mining corporate: 5 things to look for  
  • Lithium
  • Copper
  • Coal
  • And much more. 

 

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2022’s extraordinary cash flows are in the rear-view mirror for most mining companies. Strong balance sheets give the majors options in 2023. But valuations are constricting M&A activity while inflation is forcing the rescheduling of projects. Companies will seek to maximise value from their existing portfolios through restructuring, organic growth and sales strategies. 

Metals and mining companies’ cautious approach is underpinned by a mixed macro-outlook. We expect energy transition-focused commodities to outperform bulks in 2023. Will new capacity in copper and nickel push those markets into surplus? What would that mean for prices?  And is a decline in lithium prices now a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’? Margins will cool, but can they remain above pre-pandemic levels?  

Metals and mining corporate: five things to look for in 2023 explores our view on:  

  1. Pay to play: M&A will focus on early-stage assets as financing constraints emerge 
  2. Reimagining organic growth: companies will broaden their approaches to exploration and development 
  3. Friends with benefits: the majors will monetise their low carbon position through premia 
  4. Corporate focus moves to market positions in the post-China era 
  5. Spin to win: valuation differentials will shift focus to restructuring to unlock value 

To read our predictions in detail – along with a view of the wildcards to watch out for – fill in the form at the top of the page for your complimentary copy of the corporate report.  

Plus, scroll down for our view on how key themes will play our for different metals and mined commodities, from aluminium all the way through to zinc:  

Aluminium

The aluminium market is set for another year of uncertainty and fluctuation. The wild card will be Chinese policy-making which will dictate both supply and demand. 2023 will also see a further acceleration in the industry's move towards decarbonisation as renewable power makes further inroads.  

Find out about this and more in Aluminium: 5 things to look for in 2023.  

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Uday Patel, Senior Research Manager, Global Aluminium Markets

Bulk steel alloys

In 2022, bulk steel alloy markets were characterised by diverging trends in China and the west. While western markets were most prominently shaped by the war in Ukraine, in China a ‘zero-covid’ policy proved to be a much more decisive driver. What will 2023 bring?  

Get our view in Bulk steel alloys: 5 things to look for in 2023.  

 

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Dale Hazelton, Head of Steel Alloys

Cathode and precursor

Despite the many challenges of 2022 EV producers and their battery supply chain had a successful year and entered 2023 on a high. Can the industry sustain its high level of growth in 2023 – and go further by scaling production across the value chain?  

Get our view on this and more in Cathode and precursor: 5 things to look for in 2023. 

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Cobalt

It’s been an eventful year for cobalt, with prices on a rollercoaster ride. The cobalt market in 2022 was marked by a shift in fundamentals, supply chain disruptions and price divergences across products and geographies. So what will 2023 bring?

Read our predictions in Cobalt: 5 things to look for in 2023.

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Ying Lu, Senior Research Analyst, Cobalt

Copper

Copper price volatility rose to its highest levels in over a decade in 2022. Will that continue in 2023? And is mine supply set to rise at pace?  

Get our experts' predictions for the year ahead in Copper: things to look for in 2023.

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Eleni Joannides, Research Director, Copper

Gold

2022 was no different from 2021 in terms of gold price volatility and averaged USD1,801/oz for the year. So, what do we expect for prices in the year ahead? And will the hunt for new ounces continue?  

Read our view of the key factors that will shape the gold mining sector over the coming year in Gold: 5 things to look for in 2023.  

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Graphite

Divergence is the key theme of the graphite market in 2023. The spherical graphite supply chain will move towards diversification. Industrial-grade flake prices will decline as demand struggles, but will battery-grade flake sizes disconnect from the rest of the spectrum?  

Read our view in Graphite: 5 things to look for in 2023. 

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Suzanne Shaw, Principal Analyst, Graphite

Iron ore

The global iron ore market will continue to witness fluctuating growth trends in 2023, as policy volatility in China and energy inflation woes will beset the market. 

How will this impact growth trends? How will miners' investments be directed?  

Read our view on this and more in Iron ore: 5 things to look for in 2023 

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Isha Chaudhary, Principal Analyst, Steel and Raw Material Markets

Lead

The global lead market was robust at the end of 2022. But what will 2023 bring? The extent to which high lithium prices slow the transition from lead to Li-ion batteries is one hot topic for the lead markets in 2023.  

For our view on this and more, read Lead: things to look for in 2023. 

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Lithium

The lithium market will continue to be underpinned by robust battery demand growth in 2023. Changes in cathode chemistry compositions and rising volume requirements are shaping the demand-side landscape. Will we see further developments in supply?  

Get our predictions in Lithium: 5 things to look for in 2023 

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Allan Pederson, Principal Analyst, Lithium

Metallurgical coal

The metallurgical coal market is entering 2023 on a strong note with rising hopes that trade will fully resume between China and Australia. Will we leave behind the disrupted trade flows, pressures on demand and volatility in prices? 

Get our predictions in Global metallurgical coal: 5 things to look for in 2023. 

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Nickel

What is the future of the LME's dominant nickel contract? Will hydrogen make its presence felt in the world of nickel? And will we see more investment in mined output in Africa?  

Read our experts’ predictions on these topics, and more, in Nickel: 5 things to look for in 2023 

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Sean Mulshaw, Rsearch Director, Nickel Markets

Noble steel alloys

After an eventful 2022, will 2023 be calmer for noble steel alloys? Many of the events that caused such volatility last year are dissipating and, while others remain, the global markets have adapted. However, the pending stability could easily be upended.  

Find out more in Noble steel alloys: 4 things to look for in 2023 

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Rare earths

As global efforts to decarbonise intensify, the rare earths industry continues to evolve. Covid-19-related disruptions dampened market sentiment within China in 2022. But is 2023 set to be an important year for growth?  

Get our experts’ view of this and more in Rare earths: 5 things to look for in 2023.  

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Steel

Will 2023 will be a tale of two halves for steel? The first half could stay muted due to macro woes, but could the second half fare better as global economic activity revives and Chinese construction gathers pace?  

Read our predictions in Steel: 5 things to look for in 2023.  

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Mihir Vora, Principal Analyst, Steel and Raw Material Markets

Thermal coal

Coal markets remain tightly supplied with scarce capital spend. However, bearish global economic outlooks could threaten coal demand to the downside. Will prices retain strength in 2023 or are we headed toward a rapid fall? 

Read our view in Global thermal coal: 5 things to look for in 2023.  

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Natalie Biggs, Global Head of Thermal Coal Markets

Zinc

It’s set to be another year of heightened uncertainty and price volatility in the zinc market. Will European producers continue to manage output? Could Chinese rule changes disrupt concentrate flows?  

Get our view in Zinc: things to look for in 2023 

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