Global nickel industry
(1) Global primary nickel production increased by 4.76%, and the main contribution of ferronickel
According to INSG data, in recent years, global primary nickel production has been relatively stable, with an overall maintenance of around 1.98 million tons. In 2017, the global nickel price rose, driving the growth of primary nickel production. The original nickel production in the year was 2.078 million tons, an increase of 4.76% year-on-year, the fastest growth rate in recent years. In the first quarter of 2018, the global primary nickel production was 530,600 tons, an increase of 6.72% year-on-year. The growth rate was nearly 2 percentage points higher than that in 2017, reflecting the accelerated growth of primary nickel production. We believe that the trend of nickel prices is good, the rapid release of ferronickel capacity, and the prospect of nickel sulphate demand will continue to boost the production of primary nickel.
The global primary nickel production capacity is relatively concentrated, and the country's top ten production of primary nickel accounts for about 85% of global production. Among them, China's 2017 output was 623,700 tons, accounting for 30% of global nickel production. The mismatch of nickel resources is also the main reason for China's dependence on nickel imports.
Among the major producers of primary nickel, Indonesia's production increased most obviously, from 21,000 tons in 2013 to 208,800 tons in 2017, with a compound annual growth rate of 76.72%, rapidly growing into the world's second largest producer of primary nickel. The reason is related to Indonesia's 2014 export ban on raw ore. This policy has forced enterprises, especially a large number of smelting enterprises in China, to directly invest in the construction of nickel-iron smelters in Indonesia, resulting in the rapid expansion of Indonesian NPI production capacity. The transfer of China's ferronickel capacity from China to Indonesia led to a decline in primary nickel production from 2013 to 2015, and a certain degree of recovery began in 2017. Russia and Australia are dominated by nickel sulphide ore. The low nickel price has shut down many nickel smelters, and the output has been falling, from 242,000 tons and 141,500 tons in 2013 to 155,000 tons and 111,100 in 2017, respectively. Ton. The overall nickel production in the rest of the country has not changed much.
(II) Indonesia's NPI production capacity is expanding rapidly, and production is expected to continue to grow rapidly
Before 2014, Indonesia's primary nickel production was extremely small. Most of the domestic nickel ore was exported to foreign countries and only earned a small profit. In order to support the development of domestic smelting industry and protect its own nickel ore resources, Indonesia banned the export of nickel ore in 2014. Other countries led by China have invested in establishing smelters in Indonesia. The production of primary nickel in Indonesia has grown rapidly. The most significant growth is Indonesia. Nickel iron production. According to Antaike data, Indonesia's NPI production in 2014 was only 0.3 million tons. In 2017, the output has increased to 190,000 tons, with a compound annual growth rate of 298.61%.
According to the data of Antaike, the production capacity of ferronickel invested by Chinese companies in Indonesia has begun to be released. In 2017, the output of ferronickel in Indonesia was 190,000 metal tons, which will continue to grow in the future. The output in 2018 is expected to be 263,000 tons. From the perspective of specific companies, the production lines of 20 production lines of the Qingshan Group Indonesia project and the Indonesian project of the emerging casting pipe company have all been put into production. The 15 production lines of the Jiangsu Delong Indonesia Project have all been completed, but they are subject to capital restrictions and were only put into production in 2017. 2 production lines.
According to Antaike, the capacity expansion of Indonesian Chinese-funded ferronickel will be concentrated in four companies, namely Qingshan Group, Delong Nickel, Xinxing Casting Pipe and Jinchuan Group. Aoyama Group plans to cooperate with France's Ehman to develop the WedaBay nickel mine project in Indonesia. At the beginning, it will build four RKEF nickel-iron production lines, which are expected to be put into operation in 2020. Delong Nickel plans to build another 30 RKEF ferronickel production lines in the future. The new cast pipe plan is planned to start production of four RKEF production lines by the end of 2018. Jinchuan Group plans four RKEF production lines. Currently, in infrastructure construction, it is expected to put into operation two lines in 2018.
(3) China's primary nickel production rebounded, mainly driven by the growth of ferronickel
After the Indonesian mine ban was implemented, domestic ferronickel smelters began to invest in Indonesia to establish a nickel-iron smelter, while domestic smelters also faced the shortage of raw materials. The decline in ferronickel production directly led to a decline in China's primary nickel production, from 2013. The 693,500 tons fell year by year to 573,400 tons in 2016. In 2017, driven by the recovery of nickel-iron and nickel salt production, China's primary nickel production rebounded to 623,700 tons, an increase of 8.77% year-on-year, accounting for 30.01% of global primary nickel production. Among them, the output of ferronickel was 411,500 tons, an increase of 9.79%.
In terms of ferronickel, after the Indonesian mine ban, Chinese ferronickel enterprises can only rely on the Philippines to import nickel ore and consume domestic stocks to support NPI production. In 2017, with Indonesia's export liberalization and Philippine imports stable, China's NPI production rebounded rapidly. There are two main reasons for this. First, the smelter's profit is good, the factory operating rate is rising, from about 30% in 2017 to about 40%; second, as the Indonesian nickel mine gradually flows into the country, the ferronickel grade is gradually increasing, from the nickel content of 8.5% - 9% increased to 9%-10%, and the amount of nickel metal also rose. We expect China's ferronickel production to maintain a growth rate of 9% from 2018 to 2020.