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