Indonesia, the world’s largest nickel exporter, has a sobering message for struggling producers of the battery metal elsewhere: don’t expect any meaningful revival in prices. Septian Hario Seto, the government official who has overseen Indonesia’s nickel processing boom, says prices are unlikely to rise much above $18,000 a ton on the London Metal Exchange. He says Indonesia will ensure the market remains well supplied to keep costs lower for electric vehicle manufacturers. This will put further pressure on higher-cost Western world producers.
Nickel prices plunged by around 45% last year, and dipped briefly below $16,000 a ton earlier this month, as demand faltered and supply from Indonesia surged to more than 50% of the global total. Nearly half of all nickel operations worldwide are unprofitable at recent levels, forcing miners in Australia and New Caledonia to consider shutting down for good.