The nickel price is expected to remain under pressure up to (at least) the second half of 2018 due to the structural oversupply in the world market. So far this year the nickel price has fallen 9.38 percent to USD $9,080 per ton (London Metal Exchange). Analysts of the Goldman Sachs Group Inc. say nickel - used in stainless steel - is the worst-performing metal so far this year.
The nickel price will remain under pressure because nickel supplies in the Philippines and Indonesia are on the rise. Both countries are the world's key nickel exporters. The Philippines contributes around 25 percent to the world's total nickel supply (most of the nation's output is shipped to China).
But in the Philippines nickel supplies are rising because Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte replaced environmentalist and philanthropist Regina Lopez as Head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources with former army general Roy Cimatu. While Lopez was eager to shut down 23 mines (equivalent to about 50 percent of the country's nickel production capacity, while a number of companies were disallowed to resume nickel exports) across the Philippines (citing environmental breaches), Cimatu is expected to encourage output in the nation's mining sector, thereby boosting production of nickel.
Meanwhile, in Indonesia, nickel supplies have been rising because the Indonesian government eased the ban on exports of mineral ore at the start of 2017, hence giving opportunities to local miners to boost production and shipments of nickel ore. Indonesia used to be the world's biggest nickel ore exporter until the government introduced the ban on exports of mineral ore in early 2014 (a strategy aimed at encouraging the establishment of domestic processing industries).
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. expects the world's nickel oversupply to reach 37,000 tons in 2017 followed by 100,000 tons in 2018. That is why the nickel price is estimated to remain stagnant at USD $9,000 per ton up to (at least) mid-2018. However, other analysts believe the nickel price can drop to USD $8,000 due to subdued demand from China.