Shanghai Nonferrous Metals News
SMM: China’s 2019 nickel laterite imports are expected at 73.5 mln t, of this figure, more than 50% is from the Philippines, and more than 40% is from Indonesia. Indonesia’s NPI output is expected to grow by 35% y-o-y in 2019 and by 11% y-o-y in 2020, surpassing China to reach 5.34 mln t. Since the Indonesian government brought forward a ban on exports of nickel laterite to December 2019, China’s 2020 nickel laterite imports are expected to drop by 34% y-o-y.
China’s NPI smelters face increasing production costs due to rising nickel laterite prices, with cash costs expected at RMB1,300/Ni unit in 2020 and sales prices of refined nickel standing at USD 15,000/t. SMM forecast a shortfall in NPI supply of 51 kt and 75 kt respectively in 2020 and 2021. The NPI supply shortage will force un-integrated stainless steel producers to take higher offers or have to increase the proportion of refined nickel used for stainless steel smelting. China’s NPI demand is expected to climb by 23% y-o-y, driven by increased stainless steel demand and increased usages of NPI in stainless steel smelting.