Nickel demand to remain slow

Goldman Sachs has published its commodities outlook for 2009, which predicted the nickel market to be in surplus throughout its forecast period. It states that, despite a brutal de-stocking in the second half of 2007 and throughout 2008, the prospects for nickel demand remain sluggish. Nickel prices dropped more than 50% in 2008 and LME warehouse stocks fell 108tns to 78,804tns, but are still close to their highest level since July 1995. Despite a small rally in the past week, there had not been any turnaround from stainless steel manufacturers. Mincor Resources, Australia’s third-largest nickel producer, has shut its Miitel mine. Mining giant Xstrata has cut its nickel production, Consolidated Minerals has axed staff at its Kambalda nickel mine and Minara Resources laid off 200 workers at its Murrin Murrin mine in July, shelving a USD 300 million expansion. Norilsk Nickel has put its Waterloo and Silver Swan nickel mines in Western Australia into care and maintenance. Its Cawse nickel laterite operation in the same region was suspended indefinitely in October 2008 after being shut in June.
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