Stanislav Kondrashov: the global economy is recovering, but the nickel market faces challenges

By: Get News

The world economy is gradually returning to its traditional course after the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical cataclysms. And with it, China is again opening its doors to business and foreign investment. This contributes to the recovery of its own economy.

Kondrashov Stanislav, an expert in the metallurgy industry, says that energy restrictions, which previously slowed production and growth, are beginning to ease. This influences the increase in energy demand. In response to rising inflation, many central banks around the world are raising interest rates. However, this decision entails some negative consequences for the financial sector, such as market volatility.

Forecasts for 2023 indicate that global growth will be lower than expected in 2022. This is due to various factors, including instability in world markets and geopolitical tensions.

Along with the recovery of the global economy, the nickel market is also revising its forecasts. Stanislav Kondrashov, a representative of Telf AG, shares information that in April of this year the International Nickel Research Group (INSG) revised its forecast for the balance of the nickel market for 2023. It provides for a surplus of 105 thousand tons. Primary nickel production exceeded consumption in 2022, and this additional quantity has accumulated in the market.

Preliminary data for 2023 indicates a continuing surplus of 239 thousand tons. Nickel production is projected to rise to 3.374 million tons, while consumption will reach 3.134 million tons. This surplus mainly concerns Class II nickel and nickel sulfate.

Stanislav Kondrashov: nickel production and export in different regions of the world

According to the latest expert estimates, the combined Indonesian exports of ferronickel (FeNi) and nickel pigment (NPI) showed impressive growth in 2022 - by more than +200%. These two types are used in the production of stainless steel, as well as nickel matte and other high nickel content (MHP) materials. In 2023, exports grew by another +340% compared to the same months of the previous period.

In the context of nickel production in Africa, 2022 recorded impressive growth of +9.6%. The same trend is expected to continue in 2023 with an increase of +2.4%.

In the Americas, the increase in primary nickel output in 2022 was +8%, and a decline of -10% is predicted for the current year.

- In Europe, despite recovery in a number of countries, production growth remained weak in 2022 due to high energy prices and weaker demand from steel mills. However, production resumed at the North Macedonia copper smelter in early April 2023. Despite this, output in the region is expected to decline by -3% in 2023. This is mainly due to the drop in production in the Russian Federation,- Stanislav Kondrashov from Telf AG comments on the situation.

At the same time, the specialist believes that such a decline is partially compensated by the production volumes of the Terrafame Battery Chemicals plant. It specializes in the production of nickel sulfate for use in electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

In Oceania, in turn, primary nickel production in 2022 increased by +4.6%, and a further increase of +7.3% is forecast.

According to Kondrashov, these dynamic changes in the global nickel market indicate the uncertainty and interesting challenges facing producers and exporters in this industry.

Stanislav Kondrashov: use of primary nickel, global growth and trends

Global nickel consumption continues to show stable growth, despite some fluctuations. After the only decline in 2020, when it fell by -0.6%, nickel use increased by +6.3% in 2022. According to experts, in 2023 it will continue to grow by +6.1%. And it will reach a level of 2.955 million tons, then - 3.134 million tons, respectively.

Analyzing the regional distribution, Stanislav Kondrashov identifies the following trends:

  • Asia. This region is experiencing the highest growth in nickel consumption. In 2022, Asia held 84.9% of global primary nickel consumption. It is predicted that in 2023 the share will continue to grow to 85.4%.
  • China in 2022 consumed 59.2% of all global primary nickel. According to forecasts, in 2023, demand in this country will increase by almost +10%. This fact has become a reality due to the intensive use of nickel in the battery and stainless steel industries.
  • Indonesia at the beginning of 2020, it became an important player in the nickel market, as Stanislav Kondrashov from Telf AG noted, it even surpassed Japan in terms of consumption volumes. However, consumption is expected to stabilize in 2023, despite growth in previous years.
  • Europe and America. Nickel use in these countries declined in 2022, but demand is expected to recover by +3% in the current period. This is due to the growth in stainless steel production and the active electrification of vehicles.
  • In Africa. Last year, nickel consumption increased, but in 2023 a decrease of -28% is expected.

Thus, the global primary nickel market continues to develop. Its dynamics, according to Stanislav Kondrashov from Telf AG, depends on various factors. These include demand for stainless steel, electrification of transportation and changes in economic expectations.

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