Industries Nickel

The nickel pig-iron (NPI) industry has recently flourished in China. Against a backdrop of falling domestic nickel sulphide reserves and high nickel prices, coupled with swift development of the local stainless steel sector, NPI has been widely adopted by Chinese nickel and stainless steel producers as a substitute for elemental nickel. 

Since the first experimental application of NPI in 2005, China has rapidly expanded production to a 13 million tonne/yr industry, with over 200 operating furnaces. Initially, many of these furnaces were converted pig iron blast furnaces; now the current industry trend is towards purpose-built electric ferroalloy furnaces.

Once distributed sporadically within Eastern, Central and Northern China, NPI producers are currently concentrated throughout coastal cities in Northern and Eastern China, taking advantage of the closer proximity to imported ore sources.

The domestic industry is currently undergoing a period of vertical integration and consolidation; witnessing the gradual withdrawal from the market of State-owned companies and their replacement by numerous privately owned producers.

What are the factors leading to the change in geographic distribution of China’s NPI industry? Will industry consolidation and integration continue?  Does China’s dependence on Indonesian and Philippine laterite ores represent a threat to the industry? Can NPI in China survive long-term?  What are the fundamentals defining global nickel price? Will NPI continue to have a growing presence in the stainless steel sector?

Applying its proven industry assessment methodology, the CM Group conducted a thorough, ground up analysis of China’s NPI industry. Informed by the findings of numerous field visits, expert interviews and telephone surveys in conjunction with our comprehensive industry database, we produced a penetrating analysis and forecast of the NPI market.

The CM Group adopts both top down and bottom up methodology to assess the industry. Field studies are one of the many tools used to conduct comparative regional research, to identify and rank producers. Our dedicated teams continually monitor industry dynamics and our databases are kept up to date with the most accurate data sources available.  We publish multiple-client annual NPI reports that offer a comprehensive outlook for the industry and have carried out specific and exclusive ‘on-demand’ research for individual clients.

The view generated from our analysis is original, up to date and - thanks to our exclusive access to primary data - often different from the prevailing market view or from that of other analysts.

Backed by years of research experience coupled with a strong local presence and enviable industry network in China, CM Group has the proven capability to deliver timely, independent analysis on the NPI industry to support informed decision making.


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