- Nickel sulfate traded at Yuan 37,500-38,000/mt for 1,500 mt material
- Supply expected to increase gradually in August
S&P Global Platts assessed spot battery-grade nickel sulfate, with minimum 22% nickel content and maximum 100ppb magnetic material, at Yuan 37,500/mt ($5,775.54/mt) DDP China July 28, up Yuan 500/mt from July 21 and down Yuan 500/mt from July 27.
On July 28, 1,500 mt of nickel sulfate was heard traded at Yuan 37,500-38,000/mt and tradable levels were indicated largely around Yuan 37,000-38,000/mt.
Although the availability of nickel briquettes and mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP) had been tight due to the increased demand from downstream precursor makers, as well as demand for nickel in stainless-steel, market participants said supply had begun to ease slowly.
Lygend Mining’s nickel and cobalt smelting project in Indonesia has made and exported about 1,000 mt of MHP into China recently. In May 2021, Lygend had aimed for the first-phase of annual MHP projected capacity to reach 30,000–37,000 mt. Production volume is expected to increase steadily over the next few months, with a Chinese producer expecting imported MHP from Lygend to reach 3,000 mt/month by the end of 2021.
A nickel mine in New Caledonia also restarted operations in May 2021, with annual capacity standing at 50,000-60,000 mt. After going through some hiccups for the past few months, production of MHP has been underway and Chinese market sources reported 2,000-3,000 mt of MHP had reached domestic shores in July.
Furthermore, many sources are also anticipating the arrival of Tsingshan’s nickel matte supply to Huayou Cobalt and CNGR Advanced Materials in October, which will provide some relief to the existing supply tightness in the market.
In the near term, some sources remained skeptical as to whether these supplies will be able to meet the booming demand driven by the electric-vehicle industry, as well as continued COVID-19 disruptions throughout the world that have impacted both mining activities as well as logistics.
However, market participants said a continued price hike would be unsustainable if downstream users did not have sufficient margins to operate. With various incoming new supplies, nickel sulfate prices will likely face pressure and have limited room for increases. Some sources are also expecting prices to stabilize in August as supply increases.