[ferro-alloys.com]Nornickel presents the third review of the nickel and platinum group metals (PGM) markets. It was prepared by experts from Nornickel and ICBC Standard Bank on the basis of a fundamental analysis of world economic and industry data.
“We have been issuing analytical reviews of the international markets for PGMs and nickel on an ongoing basis since 2018, ” said Anton Berlin, Nornickel Marketing director. “The industry analytics presented by us is designed for professionals working in this industry.”
The expert team updated the last year’s forecast and presented a new one — both for the current year and for the longer term.
Growth nickel demand drivers in 2018 continued to be the production of stainless steel and battery materials. Global demand for primary nickel rose by 7.4% last year due to an increase in stainless steel production at the Indonesian factory Tsingshan. The growing appetite of manufacturers of battery materials, caused mainly by increased production of electric vehicles, increased consumption of nickel products in this sector by 42%.
The demand for nickel in 2019 will grow, but not as fast. In general, it will slow down to 4.7%. The significant increase in demand from the stainless steel sector will be due to China, which has imposed trade restrictions on the import of slabs and hot-rolled products from Indonesia, Korea, and Japan.
Nickel consumption by Tsingshan’s Indonesian stainless steel plant is expected, to remain at the same level as last year due to protectionist measures in the stainless steel trade, including both the already mentioned trade restrictions from China and in the West.
The growing battery sector will continue to support the need for nickel in 2019: the demand for this metal could grow by 28,000 t. However, the growth rate of demand in this sector may slow down: Chinese subsidies for electric cars are reduced, the next large-scale transition to cathode materials with a higher nickel content is expected no earlier than 2020.
The production of nickel pig iron (NPI) remains the driver of metal supply on the market. In 2019, the production volume of NPI in China and Indonesia will increase by 129, 000 tons to 861, 000 tons, which will be approximately 36% of the world nickel supply.
However, experts predict a recovery in the supply of high-grade nickel, which will be induced by both the growth plans for the supply of metals Nornickel (the world leader in the production of high-quality nickel) and the Chinese metallurgical company Jinchuan; an increase in the production of chemical products also stimulates this growth.
In the longer term, the expert team of Norilsk Nickel confirms the earlier forecast: in 2022 the market may face a deep structural deficit of the metal. This is due to the expectation of restoration of the ban on export of Indonesian ore, the slowdown in the development of HPAL technology (high-pressure acid leaching), continued growth in demand from the stainless steel sector (4% per year), and increase in demand from battery manufacturers for electric vehicles due to transition to NCM 811 (nickel-cobalt-manganese cathode material) in the early 2020s.?