SHANGHAI, Aug 22 (SMM) – Growth of nickel pig iron (NPI) output in Indonesia is likely to support supplies in the Chinese market for the rest of this year, as China's extensive environmental initiatives continue to weigh on production at Chinese plants, SMM believes.
Indonesia’s output of NPI is expected to total 240,000-245,000 mt in nickel content in 2018, with PT Sulawesi Mining Investment accounting for the largest volume, at 160,000 mt in nickel content.
PT Sulawesi Mining Investment, a joint venture between Indonesia’s Bintangdelapan Group and Chinese steelmaker Tsingshan Holding, will have capacity of 215,000 mt in nickel content by the end of this year after its four electric furnaces of 33,000-kVA are commissioned.
In light of China’s potential anti-dumping duties on stainless steel products from Indonesia, PT Sulawesi Mining Investment plans to expand NPI capacity and commission another six furnaces of 33,000-kVA by the end of 2019. This would bring its NPI capacity to 260,000-270,000 mt in nickel content.
PT Virtue Dragon, Delong Nickel’s NPI project in Indonesia, has seven furnces of 33,000-kVA in operation after two were commissioned in June. The company plans to commission another eight furnaces of 33,000-kVA and expand capacity to 118,800 mt in nickel content by the end of this year.
China’s NPI output sharply shrank to 32,000 mt in nickel content in June amid month-long environmental reviews by the central government. This compared to monthly output of 40,000 mt in nickel content in May. After reviews ended in July, production failed to recover completely and monthly output came in at 340,000 mt in nickel content, just 4% higher from June. Local governments also intensified efforts for the Blue Skies initiatives.
SMM expects August output to grow 8-9% to 370,000 mt in nickel content and for September output to hold steady as environmental inspectors from the central government began to settle across 11 cities in Fen-wei plain from August 20 for Blue Skies initiatives. There is a current shortage of NPI in the Chinese market.
As Chinese authorities step up environmental protection, uncertainties grew across planned new capacities or capacities to resume. Xinhai Technology and Jinhaihui Technology in Shandong province plan to expand capacity while Baotong Nickel in Jiangsu province may resume operation.