Several speakers at the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) annual meet expect stainless steel output in Europe, the Middle East and Asia to return to 2019 levels this year but say that it is unlikely to will happen in the US, Japan and India.
The stainless steel and special alloy committee meeting saw members state that global stainless steel consumption fell by 2.4pc last year due to the pandemic, still better than the 2008-09 crisis. On an annual basis, US saw a 17pc drop in consumption, Europe saw a 9pc decline and Japan’s consumption fell by 6pc, this was however offset by increase in China’s stainless steel consumption by 6pc in 2020.
The committee further added that China and Indonesia are emerging as the global leaders in stainless steel development as the combine share of their global stainless steel production in 2020 increased to 64pc from 52pc in 2015. Both the countries rely heavily on primary nickel units to produce stainless steel and have reduced the use of scrap in production. Currently the global scrap ratio in stainless steel production has fallen to 37pc compared to 42pc in 2015.
Some anticipate that the increased Nickel demand will be driven primarily by the battery sector under green legislation. This projection is mainly based on the sales of electric vehicles exceeding expectation last year despite the impact of the virus. They expect battery making to surge atleast 4 to 5 times over by 2030.
Additionally, the concern regarding the availability of nickel units due to sudden increase in battery demand was addressed at the BIR meet. Experts concluded that exchange stocks, high-pressure acid leach extraction projects, conversion of nickel matte to high grade nickel and increased NPI production will help addressing the surplus demand. However, it is expected to take another 10-20 years for significant quantities to be available.