LAS VEGAS A recovering world economy has led to improved global nickel demand in the first quarter compared with the latter part of 2013, according to the International Nickel Study Group (INSG).
Nickel consumption "will continue to increase this year, although at a lower rate than in recent years, with China being the main growth market," the INSG said in a release detailing its semiannual meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, earlier this month. It noted a "possible reduction" in Chinese nickel pig iron (NPI) production due to lower nickel ore shipments from Indonesia, which "could adversely affect worldwide nickel production despite the range of new nickel projects that will come on stream."
While Indonesias ban on nickel ore exports, which took effect in January, "is expected to reduce production in that country," the ban also may "result in a further increase in nickel ore exports from the Philippines," the INSG said.
Global primary nickel production is expected to total about 1.94 million tonnes in 2014, the group said, a figure "largely unchanged" from last year but around 11 percent ahead of 1.75 million tonnes in 2012. The INSG noted "a degree of uncertainty in these figures in regard to Chinese (NPI) production."
Global nickel consumption, meanwhile, is estimated to increase to about 1.89 million tonnes this year, up nearly 7 percent from 1.77 million tonnes in 2013 and 8 percent ahead of 1.75 million tonnes in 2012.
The group noted "a significant stock build" in material in 2012 and 2013, which it attributed to "the number of new nickel projects that have started up" and "existing projects that have ramped up production." INSG also cited the effects of Chinese NPI production on refined nickel consumption, as well as "disappointing usage figures outside of China and India."