Indonesia’s stainless steel exports jump 40% in 2016

3 March 2017

The latest Quarterly Stainless Steel Report published by the World Bureau of Metal Statistics (WBMS) indicates that stainless steel exports by Indonesia surged higher significantly during the calendar year 2016. The exports jumped higher by over 40% when matched with the year before. Also, the Indonesian exports touched the highest levels since 2012 during the year.

As per WBMS data, the country’s stainless steel exports totaled 83,200 tonnes in 2016, as compared with the exports of 59,400 tonnes in 2015. Year-on-year, the exports were up by over 40%. The sharp jump in exports was mainly on account of increased demand from China during the year. The stainless steel slab exports to China skyrocketed from barely 700 tonnes in 2015 to as high as 24,400 tonnes in 2016. These exports happened as two parcels of 12,400 tonnes and 12,000 tonnes during the months of September and December in 2016 respectively.

The expected ramp up in stainless steel production is likely to result in stronger exports by Indonesia during the current year. For instance, the Chinese Tsingshan Group has already announced its plans to start its 1 million tonnes capacity stainless steel mill during the first quarter of 2017. The company had gone through trial production for a short period during mid-2016. Also, Chinese Delong has also hinted at increased stainless steel production from its Indonesian facility, following the closure of its mill in Jiangsu province, China. All these developments signal quick and robust take off to the country’s stainless steel industry.

Indonesia had imposed a ban on unprocessed nickel ore exports in 2014, to boost investment in smelting facilities. Earlier in January this year, Indonesia had announced its decision to ease up its export ban on nickel ore. Consequently, those nickel miners who dedicate at least 30% of their smelter capacity to processing low-grade ore, will be allowed to export excess capacity of ores. This essentially means that 70% of the nickel ores from the country will reach international market. The addition of excess quantity to international market place is feared to drag nickel prices. The decline in nickel prices will impact the alloy surcharges, which in turn will lead to fall in stainless steel prices.

In accordance with the latest data published by the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF), the global stainless steel production increased by 7.0% during the initial nine months of 2016, in comparison with the corresponding three quarters in 2015. The total stainless steel output during the initial nine months of 2016 amounted to 33.585 million metric tons, higher by 7.0% when compared with the output of 31.397 million mt during Jan-Sep ‘16.

The Chinese output increased significantly by 11.4% year-on-year during Jan-Sep ’16 to 18.083 million mt. The stainless steel production by China had totaled 16.238 million mt during Jan-Sep ’15. The output by the Asian region excluding China too reported growth of 4.2% over the year. The stainless steel output totaled 7.372 million mt during first three quarters of 2016 as against the output of 7.077 million mt during the initial nine months of 2015.