Russia’s palladium exports face disruption from flight bans

The metal that’s mostly used in catalytic converters is almost always transported by passenger planes. (Stock Image).

Palladium supplies from top producer Russia face disruption from widespread flight bans, with companies looking to find alternative means to export the precious metal.

The metal that’s mostly used in catalytic converters is almost always transported by passenger planes. With most of Europe’s airspace closed to flights from Russia, miners like MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC are examining alternative routes to supply customers, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Russia is central to the palladium market, accounting for 40% of all mined production. On Monday, the precious metal extended its rally this year to 30% as traders brace for difficulty securing exports. Concerns are particularly high as above ground stockpiles have dwindled for years due to demand outstripping supply.

“There is no doubt that unless the situation is defused quickly, there will be frictions in all Russian trade and this will affect palladium,” said Nikos Kavalis, managing director at Metals Focus Ltd. “Over time ways to overcome them would emerge, whether this through ever more complicated routes, shipments to China or other consuming countries.”

It’s not the first time palladium exports have been affected by issues with air travel. At the start of the pandemic Norilsk Nickel had to charter planes for its exports after passenger flights were suspended. Key consumers of Russian palladium include BASF SE in Germany, which uses it to produce autocatalysts.

“Our operations are proceeding as usual, we continue to meet all our contractual obligations and remain committed to our clients and partners,” a spokesperson for Nornickel said.

(By Yuliya Fedorinova, Eddie Spence and Ranjeetha Pakiam)

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