Solid stainless production drives nickel price
September 25, 2021
From a bear narrative of oversupply in the first half of this year, the nickel market has swung dramatically to a bull story of rampant demand. That demand, however, is from solid stainless steel consumption, not from last year’s expectation of battery demand. China is largely driving the nickel price. A technical squeeze on the SHFE and strong physical demand, manifested by rising imports, are supporting the price. Refined metal imports from elsewhere have surged. Those imports are up 48% year over year to 109,000 tons between January and July. Raw material feed in the form of ferro nickel is also up 17%, including nickel pig iron from Indonesia up 22%. Nickel ore imports, largely from the Philippines, are also up 25%. Nickel matte is up 73%, while intermediate products rose 48%.