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Saturday, February 05, 2005

Nickel seen cheaper as year progresses

The average cost of nickel on the London Metals Exchange (LME) should ease this year to $12,000/metric ton ($5.44/lb) due to higher production and lower consumption by stainless steel producers, forecasts Markus Moll, managing director of Steel & Metals Market Research. Also last week, a Reuters News Service poll of base metals analysts forecast average LME nickel prices to drop by about 6% to $13,850 ($5.90/lb) in 2005 from $13,000
($6.28/lb) last year.

High nickel prices have persuaded many appliance makers and other manufacturing firms to use more stainless steel with low nickel content, such as the 200 series that uses manganese as its key additive. "As a result of that, and increased nickel production from various mining/smelting projects in Canada and Cuba in the next 12 months, nickel should become cheaper," Moll says. Inco's Voisey's Bay project in Newfoundland and Labrador is due on-stream at an estimated 50,000 metric tons/year, while the Cuban government has forecast production to rise by 10% to 77,000 metric tons. China's rapidly growing stainless industry also will see one of its top producers, Baosteel, ramp production to 1 million metric tons this year from less than 800,000 metric tons in 2004. Stronger output is also expected in North America where Acerinox plans to lift production at its subsidiary North American Stainless by 11% this year to some 2.6 million metric tons.

Analysts expect this and other new nickel production to push LME prices even lower in 2006, to $10,500/metric ton ($4.76/lb).

C 2005, Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.

posted by MetalPro Sales at 4:21 PM  

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