In the present times of globalization, it is important for the nickel industry players to understand the global market and devise their business strategies accordingly. It is in this respect that the industry players would find the report on the nickel industry valuable. The report is a storehouse of data on import/export, supply and consumption, revenue and gross margin by regions (the United States, EU, China and Japan). The same data can be added for other regions.
Nickel is an integral part of the material used for the manufacture of cooking utensils, mobile phones and batteries, medical equipment, transport, buildings, and power generation etc. Nickel has advantage over other metals because of its properties of corrosion resistance, better toughness, and better strength at high and low temperatures, and a range of special magnetic and electronic properties.
Primarily, nickel is used as refined metal in the form of cathode, powder, briquet, or ferronickel. Most of nickel is consumed in the western world to make stainless steel. Other uses of nickel are superalloys or nonferrous alloys. Due to their resistance to corrosion, both types of alloys are widely used in the stainless steel industry.
The aerospace industry is also a leading consumer of nickel-based superalloys. In fact, nickel is very important in jet construction as some critical parts of the jet engine like turbine blades, and discs are fabricated from nickel superalloys.
Nickel-based super alloys are also used in land-based combustion turbines found at electric power generation stations, rechargeable batteries, catalysts and other chemicals, coinage, foundry products, and plating.
The Challenge of Weak Demand for Nickel
Ken Research says, currently the nickel industry is facing a slowdown in the global arena. The oversupply and weak demand have led to decline in nickel prices, which have hovered down to a 13-yearlow. The price decline has made nickel companies to cut production. Various industry players will bear losses because the production cuts have been slower than expected in view of the weaker demand from the stainless-steel sector.
The situation has worsened due to significant slowdown of stainless steel demand in China. The Chinese producers have responded to the market by decreasing their nickel pig iron production but the rest of the world has increased nickel production thus offsetting decline in the Chinese pig iron nickel output. There is combination of factors that will delay the recovery of the global nickel industry, such as high nickel stockpiles in China, larger than expected supply form the Philippines and consistent weakness in the stainless-steel market.
Many industry players are incurring losses due to the decline in the prices of nickel products. The impairment in company assets will continue if the prices for the nickel keep declining.
Hope in the Asia-Pacific region
Amid the declining nickel demand elsewhere, the Asia-Pacific region is generating a good demand for the metal. Developing countries such as India and Brazil present a great opportunity for the nickel industry. The countries which are modernizing their infrastructure will boost the nickel market as nickel is used is many things required for infrastructure upgradation.
Major Players in the Industry
Leading players of the global nickel industry are: Vale, MMC Norilsk Nickel, BHP Billiton Ltd, Xstrata Plc, Pacific Metals, Anglo American, Sherritt, Jinchuan Group, Jilin Jien Nickel, Sumitomo Metal Mining, Nizi International.
Conclusion: The global nickel industry is undergoing recovery and would take time to balance its production with the declining demand. Industrializing developing countries are likely to drive the global nickel market. In future, the increasing demand of nickel, production cuts and usage of nickel stockpiles will balance the supply and demand in the industry leading to better prices for nickel producers.