Rising demand and a nickel miners’ strike are combining to boost costs for stainless steel for design engineers. There is no indication, however, that supply conditions will deteriorate anytime soon to the level seen in 2007 when design engineers were forced to seek substitutes.
Nickel prices were up 46 percent in April, and have risen a bit since. A strike at Vale’s Sudbury operations in Ontario has cut operations to 50 percent of capacity. The strike only reduces global capacity by 5 percent, but rising demand makes it a factor.
Recovery in the stainless steel market began in the second half of 2009. The International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) in Brussels is predicting an 11 to 12 percent increase in stainless steel production this year.