Davis Index: Market Intelligence for the Global Metals and Recycled Materials Markets

Global primary nickel production is forecast to reach 2.71mn mt and nickel consumption is projected to increased to 2.67mn mt in 2021, according to the International Nickel Study Group (INSG).

The COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably affected the world economy and brought about a high level of uncertainty in 2020. With various governments working to recover the economies, progressive improvement is expected in economic indicators in 2021, INSG report stated.


Global primary nickel production in 2019 was 2.36mn mt which rose to 2.49mn mt in 2020 despite the pandemic. In 2021 it is expected to rise to 2.71mn mt. However, INSG noted there is a slight undertone of uncertainty in the forecast figures owing to Chinese and Indonesian NPI production. 

Nickel mine production in 2020 declined as Indonesia banned nickel ore exports. Indonesia will continue to be the top producer of nickel as the domestic nickel industry strengthens.


Nickel consumption globally in 2019 was 2.40mn mt and 2.38mn mt in 2020. INSG has forecast consumption to increase to 2.67mn mt in 2021. In 2019, nickel deficit was around 36,000mt, in 2020 it was a surplus of 108,000mt and there is expected to be a surplus of 45,000mt in 2021.

In 2020, stainless steel melt shop production dipped 2.5pc to 50.9mn mt compared to 2019 despite a strong recovery in China in the second half of the year, according to International Stainless Steel Forum. Strong growth is expected in 2021 in Indonesia. With auto sector switching to electrification of vehicles, it will have a positive impact on nickel usage as nickel sulphate is used in batteries.

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