Norilsk Nickel expects the Nickel market to expand its surplus by 9 percent in 2021 as Indonesian Nickel pig iron (NPI) production outstrips demand.


The surplus of nickel will increase from 87,000 tonnes in 2020 to 95,000 tonnes in 2021, Russian nickel miners said yesterday at the annual conference of the Association of Recycling Industries (ISRI).

Indonesian producers will add 370,000 tonnes of NPI supply in 2021, combined with other smaller increases, to lift total nickel production to 2.7 million tonnes, while increased demand for stainless steel and batteries will only lift consumption to 2.65 million tonnes.

Norilsk estimates that expanding NPI production in Indonesia will free up more room for producers of class 1 nickel metals to target customers in the non-target stainless steel sector.

Stainless steel accounts for about 70 per cent of global nickel consumption, according to the Nickel Institute.

The market has been in a loss-making state from 2017 to 2019, with an average annual shortfall of 89,000 tons over the three years, according to the company.

Indonesia’s production of 300 series stainless steel will also increase, due to the production of Aoyama and Durong steelmakers more than doubling between January and April 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.

Norilsk said all major regions are expected to increase production of stainless steel, led by China.

In Europe, Middle East and Africa, stainless steel production will increase 8 percent to 7.5 million tons, followed by India and the United States, which will increase 11 percent and 12 percent to 3.5 million tons and 2.4 million tons, respectively.

At the same time, orders for electric vehicles (EVs) will increase nickel consumption, with sales in Europe set to nearly double by 2020.

Mr Norilsk stressed that global stimulus spending and efforts to be carbon neutral would play an important role in boosting nickel consumption.

It is estimated that the additional battery-related consumption will reach 600,000-900,000 tons per year by 2030.

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