According to the World Bureau of Metal Statistics (WBMS) global production of Nickel (Ni) has increased by 7pc from 1.2mn tonnes to 1.3mn tonnes (1.2mn mt to 1.3mn mt) until July 2019 compared to same period in 2018. The higher usage of Ni instead of cobalt in electric vehicles was one of the factors responsible for this rise in production.
China and Indonesia led the production of Ni with the metal produced in both these countries increasing by 19pc and 24pc respectively. China now accounts for 32pc of global production and Indonesia 14pc. Russia also accounted for a 5pc increase in Ni production along with other valuable platinum group metals. Alternatively, Japan’s Ni production dropped by 7pc followed by Brazil and New Caledonia at 14pc and 24pc respectively.
The global Ni usage from smelter/refinery excluding scrap also increased by 4pc from 1.32mn mt to 1.37mn mt. Similarly China’s usage from the period of Jan-July 2019 increased by 21pc accounting for 50pc of global usage. Indonesia was the second largest global user at 7pc unchanged from the previous year. Ni usage in Japan dropped by 13pc and the US by 23pc, correspondingly followed by Taiwan Italy, and South Africa at 27pc, 29pc, and 17pc.
Exports of the metal, mainly Ni pig iron (NPI), from Indonesia nearly doubled to 194,000mt accounting for almost half of the global exports due to the Ni export ban from Indonesia that’s likely to start early 2020. Except Caledonia, which saw a decrease in Ni exports, shipments of the metal from other countries remained unchanged during the period.
Global imports of Ni increased from 850,000mt during the same period last year to almost 950,000mt in 2019. China accounted for almost 100,000mt import. The data regarding the mismatch between the import and export is yet to be determined.
Around 40pc of Ni trade contained Ferro Ni and NPI and 60pc contained metal, powder, and other elements.