Nickel, used in stainless steel wire and electric-vehicle batteries increased 250% in two days from $11/lb to $50/lb, an unprecedented increase. The stainless-steel sector accounts for around 70% of all global nickel demand. Nickel was already increasing due to tight supplies even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has further increased fears of sweeping commodity shortages. Russia produces 17% of the world’s top-grade nickel. The London Metals Exchange (LME) halted trading on 3/7/22 and announced trading will be halted until at least 3/11/22, maybe longer. Higher nickel prices, if sustained, threaten to increase costs for electric-vehicle batteries and stainless-steel wire.
One of our stainless-steel wire providers has stopped new quotes that cannot use current inventory and are not accepting new orders. We expect other providers to follow suit until the future of nickel pricing is known.