NICKEL ores and concentrates monthly exports from Zimbabwe grew by 103 percent in November 2023 to US$67,1 million from US$33,1 million as the global demand for the mineral continues to surge on the back of the growing manufacturing of electric vehicles and steel products.
According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTATS), the November figure was also the highest month-on-month exports in the 11 months of 2023.
The second-highest nickel ore and concentrates exports worth US$64,4 million were made in February; January 2023 nickel exports followed third as they reached US$61,6 million.
United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade shows that Zimbabwe’s exports of nickel topped US$1,02 billion in 2022.
In 2021, Zimbabwe was the world’s 13th largest nickel exporter, behind among other countries France, The United States, Russia, and Germany ranking second, third, and fourth respectively.
Nickel demand is expected to remain high, with a projected average growth of slightly over four percent per annum year on year.
Stainless steel is said to remain the main consumer of nickel and is expected to average 67 percent while the use of nickel in the production of electric vehicles is expected to increase to 18 percent by 2025.
This is because many countries are shifting towards attaining a more sustainable future. Major economies are also adopting and promoting electric vehicles in an effort to lessen carbon emissions from the traditional internal-combustion engines, and eventually help the transport and power sector’s contribution towards reaching the 2-degree Celsius goal as set by the Paris Agreement.
Economist and trade expert Miss Josephine Zikomo said infrastructure developments present huge market opportunities and demand for nickel.
Further adding that the emergency of clean energy was a key factor in the creation of nickel demand the world over.
“As emerging economies continue to develop, the demand for infrastructure and consumer goods is increasing, leading to a higher demand for stainless steel and electronic products, thereby driving the need for nickel,” said Miss Zikomo.
Nickel prices reached a peak of US$30 000 per tonne in January 2023 due to low inventories reported from the London Metal Exchange (LME).
LME has since forecasted nickel prices to fall further to an average of about US$20 200 per tonne in 2024 due to a near-term global surplus.
According to the South East Asia Iron and Steel Institute (SEAISI), this will be exacerbated by an unanticipated oversupply in the global nickel market.
This is expected to persist over the outlook period driven by growth in Indonesian (and some Chinese) mined and refined production.
However, a tighter global supply and demand is expected to assist in the recovery of nickel prices to roughly US$21 500 per tonne by 2025.
Generally, global refined nickel consumption is projected to grow to 3,5 million tonnes by 2025, at an average year-on-year rate of 5,9 percent.
This anticipated growth in demand is estimated to be driven by increasing stainless steel output over the next few years.
Zimbabwe’s nickel exports are projected to continue growing into 2026.