Chinese production of NPI was up by 50.9% year on year in July 2019 to a record 536,000 tonnes. Yet despite growing concerns that an already weak European stainless steel market will become inundated with the cheaper Chinese ore, European mills will avoid it in Barry Jackson’s view.
While NPI is undoubtedly a cheaper feedstock for stainless steel, in using it, mills would incur higher import and refining charges and would require more scrap to aid the longer processing time.
“NPI poses a limited threat to the European stainless steel market on a technical basis. When you use NPI to replace or partially replace ferro-nickel, the contained elements emit more heat, which requires more scrap and a longer processing time,” Jackson said.
Anglo American estimates that by substituting 50% of the ferro-nickel - a ferro-alloy containing approximately 35% nickel to 65% iron - used in traditional European stainless...