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Detail of sulphur mined on the Ijen volcano complex. Sulphur mining is the major business in the region, formed by an active vent at the edge of the lake, but it is not without risks.

Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

Scotiabank's commodity price index rose 1 per cent in November as a sharp rebound in oil and firmer base metal prices helped reverse a three-month slide.



The bank's all items index now is 6.7 per cent above year-earlier levels and will likely end 2011 just above where it was a year ago.



Meanwhile, Scotiabank says that while most commodity prices remain at profitable levels, there has been a marked loss of momentum after an 18 per cent year-over-year gain in late 2010.

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The star performers of 2011 among the 32 commodities covered by the index were sulphur, a commodity used in DAP fertilizers, which came in No. 1.



Other commodities that have done well over the year are premium-grade hard coking coal from Western Canada, potash and hogs and cattle as a result of herd liquidation across North America.



Gold was in seventh place with a 14.6 per cent gain from late 2010 through mid-December 2011.



"The London PM Fix for gold surged by 38.2 per cent from $1,390.55 (U.S.) per ounce in December 2010 to a record high in intraday trading of $1,921.18 (U.S.) on September 6," noted Patricia Mohr, vice-president, economics and commodity market specialist at Scotiabank.



However, the precious metal fell back to $1,594 (U.S.) on December 16.



Heavy and light crude oil — Hardisty, Alta., heavy and Edmonton light par crude — rounded out the Top 10 in 2011 and are among the bank's top picks for investors in 2012.

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