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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Norilsk Nickel Expects Sales Of Palladium to Resume Soon

Major Russian palladium producer Norilsk Nickel expects it will soon be granted an export quota for 1999 that will permit it to start exporting the metal, Norilsk first deputy chief Dmitry Zelenin said Tuesday in a statement.

"Great progress has been made of late in obtaining the quota and we expect we will have it pretty soon," Zelenin said.

He also said Norilsk's palladium output increased by 20 percent this year.

In early December, Norilsk said in a statement that bureaucratic delays in issuing 1999 export quotas might prevent it from exporting platinum group metals, or PGMs, in the first quarter of next year. That news, along with an announcement that Russia had withdrawn from the market for the remainder of the year, sent spot palladium prices soaring to $330 a troy ounce last week.

But the price started falling Friday, and dealers in Tokyo and London said it was because Russia was selling palladium again. They said those sales continued Monday and Tuesday.

Russia has fiercely denied resuming exports, and the Finance Ministry says no deliveries have been made since Dec. 14.

Nevertheless, palladium, used in electronics and dentistry, and to make vehicle emission reduction catalysts, is recording decent sale volumes in London as willing buyers snap up new Russian supplies, one dealer said. "The Russians have come back into the market," he said.

Russia had stopped palladium exports because its quota for 1998 had been met. PGM quotas are granted on an annual basis by a presidential decree followed by government resolutions. Delays in a quota issue earlier this year kept metals off the market for several months, pushing up their prices.

"We are not interested in keeping the palladium price high, since when it jumps over a certain level the consumers start looking for substitutes and the market becomes illiquid," Zelenin said in the statement.