Reuters quoted Sumitomo Metal Mining as saying that global nickel market deficit will nearly halve to 49,000 tonnes in 2019 from 93,000 tonnes this year on higher output of primary metals by global suppliers and of lower-grade nickel pig iron in Indonesia. Sumitomo Metal, Japan’s biggest nickel smelter, said global demand for nickel is seen increasing by 3.4 percent in 2019 from this year to 2.339 million tonnes, while supply is expected to climb 5.5 percent to 2.29 million tonnes. Mr Masanori Ohyama, general manager of Sumitomo Metal’s nickel sales and raw materials department, told reporters that “We expect to see higher demand for stainless steel and rechargeable batteries next year.“

Mr Ohyama said that “As for supply, we expect an expanded production of NPI in Indonesia and a pick-up in output from class I producers, referring to the producers of high-purity metal with more than 99.8 percent nickel content. NPI usually has less than 12 percent nickel content.“

The roughly 2.2 million tonne-a-year nickel market will likely register a deficit of 93,000 tonnes in 2018, widening from 77,000 tonnes in 2017, according to the company.