Two-thirds of new nickel and most recycled nickel is used two make stainless steel. The most common grades of stainless steel contain between 8% and 12% nickel. As an essential component in such steels, nickel demand is closely aligned to demand drivers for stainless steel.
Usage of nickel has increased over time as a result of global economic development. In the past decade, world nickel demand increased from 1.104 million tonnes in 2001 to 1.572 million tonnes in 2011, an annual average growth rate of 4.2%. However, the upward trend has had peaks and valleys. Base metals prices moved higher in early 2012, but recently the price of nickel has declined, reflecting an increase in supply. China continues to be the main driver for nickel demand.
Nickel Spot Prices (US$ per lb)