The oversupply of the global nickel market expanded to 14,600mt in December 2020, according to media reports. Data released on Feb 22 by the International Nickel Industry Research Group (INSG) stated that the global nickel market surplus increased by 14,600 tons in December.
The report states in 2020 nickel oversupply rose to 122,900mt in the global market, while in 2019 ended with a shortage of 32,200mt.
Global nickel refinery and smelter production in 2020 was 216,700mt compared to a demand of 220,300mt according to WBMS’ report. Nickel demand fell by almost 66,000mt compared to the same month a year ago. Mine production has, however, decreased to 2.27mn mt, down by 321,000mt from the previous year.
China’s imports of refined nickel in 2020 dropped 32pc to 130,700mt in 2020, the lowest levels recorded since 2014 but nickel prices on the LME still increased steadily throughout 2020.
Demand for nickel has increased substantially given the focus on the manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles. The stainless steel market still is the major consumer of nickel despite the hype around EV battery demand.
Nickel prices have reached $19,722/mt up almost 58pc in a year which has pushed scrap prices up too. Three-month nickel prices have risen to a seven-year high with a sudden boost in trading with the return of Asian buyers after Chinese New Year.