NPI Remains Key to the Outlook
Our latest sector report takes a deep dive into the nickel industry, analysing supply and demand forecasts and discussing some of the many assumptions and sensitivities that need to be considered when analysing nickel market dynamics.
Some of our key takeaways:
Nickel demand is booming: Stainless steel demand is expected to remain the largest demand segment for nickel out to 2030 and beyond, despite the strong growth in demand for nickel from the battery sector. Battery sector demand is forecast to grow up to five-fold from 2020 levels by 2030.
The Class I and Class II nickel divide adds complexity to the picture: Bifurcation of the nickel market makes it complicated to accurately analyse longer-term supply and demand forecasts. Recent technological developments have shifted the goalposts and blurred the historical lines between preferential Class I and Class II feedstocks.
ESG issues are to the fore: Battery and EV manufacturers are increasingly striving to minimise the CO2 footprints of their products, reduce risks caused by geopolitical concentration, and ensure environmental and ethical standards are implemented and maintained. This may put some Indonesian NPI producers at a disadvantage and opens the door for nickel sulphide production in countries with lower CO2 intensities to potentially supply “greener” nickel to end users.
M&A is heating up: Recent public markets activity has primarily been driven by large, well-resourced acquirers putting their foot on future sources of nickel sulphide supply, both at the corporate and asset level.
NPI remains the key to the supply outlook: The development of new NPI capacity in Indonesia will remain key to the overall balance of the nickel market out to 2030. There is also a need for a significant proportion of the planned new HPAL and sulphide projects to come onstream to help balance the overall market. Whilst they are a smaller part of the overall equation, these HPAL and sulphide projects will also be critical in bringing on sufficient Class I nickel capacity to supply nickel matte to the battery markets. However, it is likely to be NPI and its conversion to nickel matte that will be the key swing supply factor in balancing the Class I market out to 2030.
We intend to release a follow-on report in early 2023 which will take a closer look at nickel market M&A and nickel project developments.
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