Inco Says China Stainless-Steel Use to Double by 2010

Inco Ltd., the world’s second-largest nickel producer, expects Chinese demand for stainless steel to double in five years as the nation’s economic growth brings more prosperity and demand for products containing the metal.

“China’s growth is transforming the world economy,” and will help sustain rising demand for nickel and other metals, Peter Jones, president of Toronto-based Inco, said today during a presentation to investors in New York. “The fact is that 1.3 billion people want a better life, and that means higher nickel consumption.”

Chinese demand for nickel, the metal used to harden stainless steel, rose more than 75 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, Jones said. Stainless steel demand in the Asian nation is expected to rise 800,000 metric tons above the 4.5 million tons sought last year, Inco estimates.

Demand will only increase as more Chinese gain affluence and greater spending power, Jones said. Some 300 million Chinese now earn more than $2,000 a year, a level that has historically accelerated stainless steel demand in other nations, he said.

“China could be consuming 10 million tons of stainless steel per year by 2010,” Jones said.

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