LONDON (Scrap Monster): Global nickel consumption from the stainless steel sector to improve in the next six months, said the nickel division of the Switzerland-based mining group Xstrata plc (LSE: XTA, SIX: XTAN).
"With the exception of the Far East, nickel demand in stainless steel is expected to remain relatively static during the second half," Xstrata added.
"However, continued economic growth in Asia, together with further recovery in Japan, is expected to result in higher global nickel consumption in stainless steel for the second half of the year,” they continued.
Nickel demand in the first six months of 2012 remained consistent with demand a year earlier, having improved from a weaker period in the second half of 2011. Global stainless steel production in developing countries continued in line with industrial growth and urbanization, but was offset by lower production in Europe, North America and Japan, they added.
However, the decline in stainless steel consumption was compensated by an increase in demand from non-stainless steel applications as a result of growth in the aerospace, power generation, oil and gas and automotive sectors.
Global production of primary nickel increased in the first half of 2012 and that higher nickel prices also supported increased production of nickel pig iron. However, recent weaker nickel prices have seen output of nickel pig iron in China fall.
"Uncertainty concerning export policies in Indonesia, a key supplier of laterite ore, emerged during the period but has so far had limited apparent impact on nickel supply from dependent producers, principally in Japan and China, and prompted significant increases in ore stockpiles at Chinese ports," Xstrata added.
Xstrata's total nickel production for the first six months of 2012 was 52,783 mt, compared with 51,436 mt in the first half of 2011. The increase was the result of a strong mine performance at the Sudbury and Raglan mines and at the Falcondo ferronickel operations. Second-quarter mined nickel production was up 11% over the first quarter of the year.
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