NEW YORK The availability of nickel ore from Indonesia will be a key factor determining nickel prices next year, according to the top executive of Brazilian miner Vale SA.
"Indonesia is a very important supplier of nickel ore. The availability of the ore can influence the nickel price in a very big way," Vale president and chief executive officer Murilo Ferreira said during a press conference at the New York Stock Exchange.
Indonesia imposed a 20-percent tax as well as a quota on exports of nickel ore and other raw materials in May, but a recent decision by the Indonesian Supreme Court has challenged the governments ruling, with little resolution as to which side might win out, according to AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.
The country is the most important supplier of nickel ore to Chinese nickel pig iron producers, which Macquarie Group Ltd. estimated in a recent note will produce 312,000 tonnes this year, up from 282,000 tonnes last year and well above projected 2012 output of 281,000 tonnes by the worlds largest producer of primary nickel, Russias MMC Norilsk Nickel.
"The limiting factor (to nickel pig iron production growth) will be availability of higher-grade nickel ore from Indonesia," according to Macquarie.