Philippines to dethrone Indonesia as largest global nickel ore producer

Port of Tanjung Perak, Indonesia. Credit: Wikipedia

Global nickel production will drop significantly over 2020 as major producer Indonesia’s nickel ore export ban comes into effect, Fitch analysts assert in a recent report.

This drop will be slightly offset by the impact of rising production growth in the Philippines where some currently suspended mines will become operational again, while the country aims to plug the likely supply gap caused by the Indonesian export ban, Fitch says.

Analysts expect other major producers such as Russia, Australia and Canada to maintain stable production growth year-on-year.

Global nickel ore production will fall by 15.4% y-o-y in 2020 as a result of the introduction of a nickel ore export ban in Indonesia, despite rising production growth in competitor the Philippines as well as steady output in other major producers — Australia, Canada and Russia.

In the longer term, Fitch forecasts global nickel production to grow by an annual average rate of 1.7% y-o-y over 2020-2029, a significant slowdown from the 6.7% y-o-y average achieved over 2010-2019, which was boosted by higher nickel prices at the time and strong Indonesian output before another export ban in 2014.

By 2029, Fitch expects global annual nickel production to reach 2.8 million tonnes, up from 2.1 million tonnes in 2020.

Indonesia surpassed the Philippines as the largest global producer in 2017 following the introduction of stringent environmental regulations, but Fitch analysts believe the tables will turn from 2020 onwards with the Philippines set to regain its spot as the largest global producer as the Indonesian government restricts exports of nickel ore.

Read the full report here