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Nickel Market

Nickel Market

Global Industry Analysis (2018 - 2021), Growth Trends, and Market Forecast (2022 - 2029)

Published Date: Upcoming | Format:

Industry: Chemicals & Materials | Author Name: Harshad

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Nickel Production and Demand to Snowball as Clean Energy Transition Attains Pace

Roughly a US$20+ Bn annual industry, global nickel market continues to see dominance of stainless steel. While a majority of nickel production goes to steelmakers, Nickel Institute expects nickel to garner heavy traction in battery making over the period of next few years. With the strong rise of electric mobility, and anticipated entry of electric vehicles (EVs) in the mainstream, battery technology has been consistently advancing over the past decade. Nickel, being increasingly considered as one of the critical battery components, is thus expected to experience healthy demand in future, influencing the dynamics of conventional nickel industry to a large extent. Besides EV batteries, nickel is expected to see demand coming from solar panels, and wind turbines. 

As the world has been constantly striving to accelerate its journey toward a potentially low-carbon future, all the components that can complement or support clean energy technologies are likely to witness robust demand. Some of the key minerals, as well as metals will especially be gaining stronger ground as the transition to clean energy will be mineral-intensive. Nickel, being among the key components here, is thus projected to see a noteworthy hike in production, and demand. World Bank in one of its reports (Minerals for Climate Action: The Mineral Intensity for the Clean Energy Transition) has estimated nickel production to proliferate by around 500% toward the end of 2050 in line with consistently soaring clean energy demand worldwide.

Nickel Market Continues to Benefit from a Broad Application Base

High durability, malleability, and electro-magnetic properties of nickel continue to account for its growing demand across industries worldwide. Majorly consumed by manufacturers of stainless steel, casting iron products, and non-ferrous alloys, nickel finds extensive application in oil and gas industry owing to its corrosion-resistant attribute. Soaring consumption of nickel and derivatives for application in water disposal, and purification further drives the growth of nickel market. Nickel also continues to witness rising demand (for usage in combination with copper) from desalination plants, which is another factor expected to uphold the sustained performance of global nickel market in future. While rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have been experiencing a boom in demand in the light of flourishing EV market, high-density nickel-based batteries are coming to the fore as a corrosion- and heat-resistant solution to cater to swelling power demand. Besides, application of nickel in construction, architecture, and marine industries is also likely to elevate growth prospects of nickel market.

However, uncertain pricing remains another strong challenge likely to be facing nickel participants in long run. Growing stringency of regulatory guidelines around the potential health hazards of sulphur dioxide emissions during the process of nickel melting also continues to limit rapid growth of nickel market worldwide.

Laterites Gaining Preference; Underfunding Continues to Challenge Greenfield Nickel Projects

Currently estimated to be around 300 MT, over half the world’s nickel resource is concentrated in Australia, South Africa, Indonesia, Philippines, Canada, and Russia. While 25-30 countries across the globe participate in nickel mining, and brownfield production, the nickel volume newly produced, and consumed each year is more than 2 MT. Traditional mindsets of investors in favour of nickel sulphide deposits are gradually showing signs of shifting away, toward the laterite counterpart. The former has historically been an easier, and more convenient alternative in terms of processing. It also has been a preferred alternative owing to its cheaper operational cost that keeps its overall pricing down. However, nickel laterites are recently emerging highly lucrative for investors based on their even cheaper operational costs. As far as greenfield production is concerned, nickel industry is yet to explore its complete investment potential. Despite fostering scenario of greenfield mining explorations, greenfield nickel remains a relatively underinvested sector. Highly time-consuming, greenfield nickel projects thus have a limited pipeline.

COVID-19 Compelled Nickel Industry to Hold back for a While

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit a majority of industries to cast a lasting impact still under recovery. Nickel market also suffered a heavy plunge as most of the key end-use industries saw a significant setback amid the initial months of the pandemic, which led to restricted demand for nickel from all the major application segments. With a lot of uncertainty hovering over the production scenes, and substantial disruptions along the supply chain networks, nickel market too faced severe challenge to its growth throughout the year 2020. The activity is likely to pick pace through the end of 2021 as end-use industries have been exhibiting strong revival over the past six months. However, the temporary shutdown for a while amid peak period of the pandemic has certainly influenced the demand, and pricing game. As a result, some of the leaders in global nickel market like Global Ferronickel Holdings, and Nickel Asia even announced suspension of a part of their operations in response to the potential loss due to the viral outbreak, and consecutive lockdown measures. Vale also declared a measurable cut in its 2020 guidance.

Asia Pacific Tops Global Nickel Landscape

Incessant consumption of steel in a number of verticals, including healthcare and medical, manufacturing, automotive and transportation, building and construction, food and beverages, chemicals, and aerospace warrants sustained growth of nickel market. China’s stainless steelmakers reign supreme, recording consumption of over half the world’s primary nickel production. Although there are several other steelmaking regions as well, most of them tend to meet their nickel demand from stainless steel scrap. With China dominating demand dynamics, followed by India, Asia Pacific is likely to lead its way in global nickel market. In addition to steelmaking businesses, nickel producers are also expected to reap major benefits from the largest battery manufacturing sector in the region. China’s thriving EV market will remain instrumental in strengthening of the top nickel market across Asia Pacific.

Competition Analysis

BHP, Anglo American plc, Cunico Corporation, Nornickel, Glencore, Sumitomo Corporation, Eramet, Independence Group, Vale, Jinchuan Group International Resources Co. Ltd., Queensland Nickel, Pacific Metal Company, Sherritt International, Votorantim Group, and Terrafame Ltd. represent some of the key companies driving competition in the global nickel landscape. Vale Indonesia made an announcement regarding its US$5 Bn investment in nickel projects (August 2019), around half of which targets battery-grade nickel projects in partnership with Chinese, and Japanese leaders. The report would offer an in-depth assessment of the competition structure with an intent to unleash financial and strategic profiles of the key participants in nickel market.

Key Elements Included In The Study: Global Nickel Market

  • Nickel Market by Product/Technology/Grade, Application/End-user, and Region
  • Executive Summary (Opportunity Analysis and Key Trends)
  • Historical Market Size and Estimates, Value and Volume, 2018 - 2021
  • Volume Consumption at Regional and Country Level, 2022 - 2029
  • Market Dynamics and Economic Overview
  • Market Size in Value and Volume, Growth Rates, and Forecast Figures, 2022 - 2029
  • Competitive Intelligence with Financials, Key Developments, and Portfolio of Leading Companies 
  • Regional and Product/Grade/Application/End-user Price Trends Analysis
  • Production Output Analysis (Major Producing Regions)
  • Key Trade Statistics (Import and Export)
  • Value Chain and Five Force’s Analysis
  • Regional/Sub-region/Country Market Size and Trend Analysis
  • Company Market Share Analysis and Key Player Profiles

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