LONDON Japans Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd. (SMM) is targeting nickel metal production of 46,000 tonnes this year and 65,000 tonnes in 2014, thanks in part to the companys Taganito project in the Philippines.
"We want to be a major player, and are targeting nickel production of 150,000 (tonnes per year) by 2020," a source at SMM told AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin during London Metal Exchange Week.
The Tokyo-based company expects to produce about 100,000 tonnes of nickel in 2014, of which 65,000 tonnes will be nickel metal and the rest ferronickel and salts.
"Ideally, we would like to sell all our production in Japan," the source said. "Our first priority is the domestic market. Then China, Korea and Taiwan. In the form of nickel metal in metal and briquettes, Japans consumption is approximately 75,000 tonnes."
Some battery producers prefer to get nickel in the form of briquettes for powder, but it is difficult to estimate how much cathode Japanese consumers buy, the source said. "(But on a) contained-nickel basis, total Japanese consumption is 140,000 tonnes in the form of metal, ferronickel, nickel oxide and some salts."
Nickel demand in Japan is expected to improve in 2014 due to economic stimulus measures implemented by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a trader said. "In the nickel business, good demand comes from special steels for energy industries like oil rigs, gas wells, pipes and large tanks."
A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.