Indonesia’s flood of nickel sparks ‘Darwinian’ battle for survival among miners Harry Dempsey, A. Anantha Lakshmi and Mercedes Ruehl (Financial Times – January 29, 2024)

Western capitals fear closure of unviable mines will increase China’s control of critical resource

Indonesia is flooding the global nickel market with low-cost supplies, forcing rivals to shut unprofitable mines and sowing panic in Washington and Paris that the upheaval will give China more control over the strategic resource.

The country, the world’s largest producer, expanded production by 30 per cent last year to 1.9mn tonnes even though global demand for the metal used in electric car batteries and stainless steel barely grew, according to investment bank Macquarie.

Indonesia’s aggressive push has helped boost its market share to 55 per cent last year, up from just 16 per cent in 2017. However the increased output also contributed to a 43 per cent fall in the global price of nickel in the past year.

Traders and analysts fear that Indonesia’s dominance of global supply will only grow as the metal’s low price forces producers elsewhere to close unviable mines and put the brakes on new developments.

For the rest of this article: