The future of nickel: tensions, trade bans and technology – by Umar Ali (Mining Technology – December 10, 2019)

It’s an interesting time for nickel on the global markets. Prices have risen dramatically despite trade tensions between the US and China, and are expected to explode as Indonesia and the Philippines prepare for nickel export bans. We assess the market dynamics of this important metal.

Indonesia’s export ban

With increased demand for stainless steel production and recent developments in technologies such as electric vehicles, demand for nickel is higher than ever. Unfortunately, this demand is struggling against an increasingly tightening supply of the essential metal.

In response to the risk of this increasing demand tightening local supply, the Indonesian government announced in September 2019 a ban on the export of raw nickel ores, bringing the ban forward from 2022 to January 2020.

According to GlobalData analyst David Kurtz, this ban is intended to produce value-added nickel products, stimulate domestic processing of ore, and make the country a hub for electric vehicle production.

Indonesia is the largest global producer of nickel and a major supplier of the metal to China’s stainless steel industry; in anticipation of the ban, Chinese producers are building up nickel inventories.

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