Column: Nickel demand boomed in 2021; this year it will be supply – by Andy Home (Reuters – May 18, 2022)

LONDON, May 18 (Reuters) – Global nickel usage surged by an extraordinary 16.2% last year on the back of booming demand from both the dominant stainless steel and fast-growing battery end-use sectors.

The result was a supply shortfall of 168,000 tonnes, the largest production deficit in at least a decade, according to the International Nickel Study Group’s latest statistical snapshot on the market.

The group expects usage to grow another 8.6% this year, exceeding the 3.0 million tonne mark for the first time ever. However, even that fast rate of expansion won’t match what the INSG expects to happen on the supply side. It is forecasting a massive 18.2% jump in global production driven by Indonesia’s build-out of new capacity.

The prognosis is for a swing back to a modest supply surplus of 67,000 tonnes, although whether that translates into lower prices is a hotly disputed topic. When the INSG met in April last year it was expecting a strong post-pandemic demand recovery of 9% for 2021. The bounce-back turned out to be even more spectacular.

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