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In early March, gold breached $2,000 an ounce for the first time since August 2020. Buoyed by its reputation as a safe haven, the metal has rallied sharply since Russia invaded Ukraine raising uncertainty in Europe to levels not seen in a generation.
But it’s not just gold that has risen sharply in recent weeks. Many other metals prices have followed suit, as geopolitics has shaken commodity markets. Russia is a major supplier of metals such as aluminium, palladium and nickel.
Even before this crisis, metals prices were rising in a generally inflationary environment, with demand for them rising and supply short. Financial markets have long preferred fun tech stories over miners and discouraged them from investing in exploration and production. The result? They haven’t.
Now there’s something of a supply crunch: just as we need more copper, lithium, steel and other metals, it’s not available. Unfortunately, the drive for renewable energy – and with it energy security – depends on these metals.
To give an idea of the frenzy in metals prices over recent weeks, nickel prices more than doubled on 8 March, forcing the London Metal Exchange to halt trading in the metal used for batteries for electric vehicles and stainless steel. The LME three-month nickel contract was up 66% at $80,000 a tonne when trading stopped, having earlier been driven to a record $101,365. Similarly, aluminium was close to record highs. Russia supplies about 10% of the world’s nickel and 6% of its aluminium.
For the past year, demand for metals has been building with supply remaining tight. The finite metal reserves belonging to the world’s miners are highly sought after. Following the price rises of recent weeks, miners’ reserves are worth more and they will be encouraged to invest in new mines.
VanEck has long been a pioneer of metals ETFs, launching the first gold miner ETF in the United States in 2006, followed by Europe’s VanEck Gold Miners UCITS ETF and VanEck Junior Gold Miners UCITS ETF in 2015. After that, in 2018, we launched the VanEck Global Mining UCITS ETF, Europe’s only ETF providing access to mining companies worldwide.
These ETFs invest in some of the world’s largest and most stable miners, mainly based in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United States and South Africa.
If there is one thing the tragic recent weeks have shown in financial markets, it is that supplies of metal will be short for some time and might intensify. It’s also a reminder that over the very long-term gold is one thing you can rely on to hold its value.
VanEck Asset Management B.V., the management company of VanEck Gold Miners UCITS ETF, VanEck Junior Gold Miners UCITS ETF and VanEck Global Mining UCITS ETF (the "Funds"), a sub-fund of VanEck UCITS ETFs plc, is a UCITS management company incorporated under Dutch law and registered with the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM). The Fund is registered with the Central Bank of Ireland and tracks an equity index. The value of the ETF assets may fluctuate heavily as a result of the investment strategy. If the underlying index falls in value, the ETF will also lose value.
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