MOSCOW – Russia's Norilsk Nickel will sell slightly less nickel and palladium than it produces in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic reduced industrial demand, the world's leading producer of the two metals told Reuters.
Demand has risen in some sectors since a slump caused by the first wave of the pandemic early this year, but is unlikely to reach its pre-crisis level until 2022, Nornickel said.
"Some sectors have started to breathe, such as the carmaking industry, some are not feeling very good as of yet - such as the air travel sector," Anton Berlin, head of Nornickel's sales, told Reuters.
Nornickel sees its 2020 nickel and palladium sales down 5% to 7% year-on-year, he added. It sold 230 000 t of nickel and 3.0-million troy ounces of palladium in 2019.
The company hopes to sell the stockpile caused by Covid-19 in 2021, Berlin said, adding that Nornickel's 2021 nickel and palladium production would be flat and copper output would decline.
He sees the 2020 global market deficit at 400,000 ounces of palladium. The nickel market will be in surplus by 100,000 tonnes.
Sales from Nornickel's Global Palladium Fund will be lower than the previously expected 300 000 oz to 500 000 oz in 2020, Berlin said.
Nornickel does not disclose the size of the fund's current stockpile, for which it buys palladium from the Russian central bank and other holders and then sells it to the global market.
The size of the stockpile in the central bank is a state secret, so it is unclear for how many years Nornickel's fund will receive the metal.
Berlin said he believed that the fund would continue receiving the metal for several years rather than several tens of years.