The London Metal Exchange (LME) has refrained from determining a date for reopening the Ring.

In March 2020, in response to the global pandemic, the LME took the decision to suspend Ring trading temporarily. The LME has communicated a set of criteria for a return to Ring trading. The LME stated that in order for it to prepare to reopen the Ring it would require either:

  • (a) an end (or significant further relaxation) to social distancing, per UK Government guidance – which likely would itself be driven by a significant reduction in virus transmission; or
  • (b) a widely available vaccine; or
  • (c) some other (as yet unknown) technological solution which would make renewed Ring trading safe.

Additionally, the LME stated that it would require that a meaningful number of Category 1 members would be willing to return, and those members would need to collectively represent more than 60% of the total 2019 Ring-traded volume. This criteria is required in order to ensure that price discovery is based on meaningful volume, so that the prices continue to be credible and robust.

On May 4, 2021, the LME said it believes it is not yet in a position to confirm a date for reopening the Ring as it is dependent on the progression of the UK vaccination programme and/or an end, or significant further relaxation, to social distancing measures. Absent sufficient clarity on either of these, the LME believes it is prudent to wait before confirming a return date.

For guidance, the soonest that the social distancing criteria could be met would be late June 2021, being the earliest point at which the UK Government may lift legal limits on social contact. However, this would require the Government to announce that it intends to lift social distancing guidance at the same time as removing legal limits.

The LME would additionally need to receive adequate notice of such intentions, so that appropriate notifications and safety preparations could be made for a confirmed return to the Ring. The LME is closely monitoring the situation and will provide further information as available.

Based on the current progress of the vaccination programme, the earliest the vaccine criteria could be met would be late July 2021, at which point all UK adults should have been offered a first dose. However, the LME will need to consider whether it is appropriate to wait for all adults to have been offered both doses, for its vaccination criteria to be met.