Commodity market ups and downs - a compilation album

ALLAN Trench and John Sykes list some puns, metaphors and clichés used to describe individual mineral commodity markets.
Commodity market ups and downs - a compilation album Commodity market ups and downs - a compilation album Commodity market ups and downs - a compilation album Commodity market ups and downs - a compilation album Commodity market ups and downs - a compilation album


Staff Reporter

The mining boom was initially flagged as stronger for longer and then subsequently as stronger forever. The mining bust is now labelled as lower for longer.

The broader markets operate within a menagerie of bulls and bears amid commentary from hawks and doves describing day-to-day snakes and ladders.

This week Strictly Boardroom presents a compilation album of suitable one-liners and headlines to herald both positive and negative outlooks for individual markets across the Periodic Table.

Some are all too obvious – others a tad cryptic.

First to a list when the respective commodity markets cited below are buoyant, afloat, rising, surging, skyrocketing, vibrant, generally on the up – you get the basic idea:

Aluminium – on autopilot;

Ammonia – explosive;

Antimony – on Acid;

Cobalt – recharging;

Coking coal – Coke: the real thing, or in the black;

Copper – electrifying, copper crucible, or red hot;

Diamonds – sparkling, dazzling, forever, or 10 out of 10 for hardness

Gas – cooking with gas; flaring up

Gold – the Midas touch, all that glisters, the power of gold, obsession, or in gold we trust;

Graphite – off the chart;

Iron ore – iron awe;

Lithium – charged-up;

Lead – he ain’t heavy;

Magnesium – burning bright;

Mercury – temperature rising;

Molybdenum – hardening;

Nickel – Nickelback;

Oil – black gold;

Phosphate – blooming;

Platinum – double platinum, or catalysed;

Potash – green shoots;

Rare earths – fluorescent;

Silver – silver lining, silver bullet, silver service, or Quicksilver;

Steel – long steel;

Sulphur – fire and brimstone;

Sulphuric acid – effervescent;

Tantalum – tantalising;

Thermal coal – locomotion;

Tin – tin drum, new heart, or can-can;

Tungsten – lighting up;

Uranium – glowing, or radiating;

Vanadium – hardening; and

Zinc – galvanised.

Now an opposing set of labels when markets are expected to fall, decline, pull-back, retreat, reduce weaken and/or just slow-down:

Aluminium – foiled;

Ammonia – pungent;

Antimony – retarded;

Cobalt – cobalt blue, or flat battery;

Coking coal – nerves of steel;

Copper – cropper, or copper-bottomed;

Diamonds – flawed, or in the rough;

Gas – lights out, sour gas, off the boil, or burns out;

Gold – fool’s gold, or false idol;

Graphite – no lead in the pencil;

Iron Ore – road metal, or bargain bucket;

Lead – lead balloon, heavy load, lead poisoning, or toxic;

Lithium – depressed, or li-Ion taming;

Mercury – poisoning;

Molybdenum – the end of the universe (42);

Nickel – spare a dime;

Oil – dusted;

Phosphate – in the fertiliser;

Platinum – little silver;

Potash – oh shit;

Rare earths – raw deal, REEtreating, shattered (Cerium), or reducing (Ytterbium);

Silver – currency to cutlery;

Steel – flat;

Sulphuric acid – corrosive;

Thermal coal – ashes to ashes;

Tin – soldering on;

Tungsten – lights out, or shooting blanks;

Uranium – meltdown;

Vanadium – softening; and

Zinc – zinc stinks.

Of course pithy one-liners extend beyond hard commodities to soft commodities too. A fizzing orange juice market for example would no doubt quickly morph towards “Buck’s Fizzl”. The market for lean hogs fattens up at times, whereas the coffee market occasionally experiences stimulus. The possibilities are (almost) boundless.

Now to your suggestions: What have we missed?

Good Hunting.

Allan Trench is a professor at Curtin Graduate School of Business; and research professor (value and risk) at the Centre for Exploration Targeting, University of Western Australia; a non-executive director of several resource sector companies; and the Perth representative for CRU Consulting, a division of independent metals and mining advisory CRU Group (

John Sykes is a PhD researcher in the Department of Mineral and Energy Economics at Curtin Graduate School of Business; and an adjunct research fellow at the Centre for Exploration Targeting, University of Western Australia; as well as managing director of Greenfields Research, a consultancy focused on exploration and mine project development economics (

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