LMEWEEK-EL Nino to aid nickel, bauxite, tin supplies; cut copper
By Melanie Burton
MELBOURNE Oct 15 (Reuters) - An El Nino weather pattern that is expected to be the strongest in nearly 20 years looks set to hit copper mining over the coming months, but should boost production of bauxite, nickel ore and tin in 2016, industry sources said.
The weather phenomenon leads to hotter sea temperatures in the west Pacific Ocean, which means more rain falls on South America and less in Australia and South East Asia.
A shorter monsoon in Indonesia the Philippines and Malaysia can help miners produce more tin, nickel and bauxite - key materials for the construction, transport and electronics industries.
"Dry weather is a good time to mine, because most of our production is off-shore and also the weather is calmer," Agung Nugroho, corporate secretary at Indonesian tin producer, PT Timah told Reuters.
Indonesia is the world's biggest exporter of the metal, which is seen in a balanced market this year. Production often dips due to heavy rains in December and January.
In Malaysia, a shorter rainy season could boost bauxite production by anything between 10-20 percent, a geologist at a miner in Kuantan, in Pahang state, said. Malaysia is the second-biggest supplier to China of the ore used to make aluminium.
Philippine nickel miners are also betting drier weather will let them mine until year end, while Australia's iron ore and coal exports are less likely to be disrupted by cyclones in the upcoming cyclone season.