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2022 outlook

Metals and mining: will 2022 be the year of rebalance?

If 2021 was the year of the rebound for metals and mined commodities, then 2022 could be shaping up to be the year of rebalance. From aluminium to zinc, our corporate and commodity experts share predictions for the coming year.

Get complimentary reports from our 2022 Outlook series, including:

  • Metals and mining corporate: 5 things to look for 
  • Battery raw materials
  • Copper
  • Nickel
  • And much more.

What are the key trends to watch in the metals and mining industry in 2022?

Last year presented a unique challenge to metals and mining players: how to make sense of disorientating price volatility and a dizzying array of market signals. We expect 2022 to provide some respite from the frenetic pace of 2021 – but of course things won't change overnight.

From an economic perspective, it looks set to be a year of narrowing extremes but widening uncertainty for the metals and mining sector. If last year was all about rebound, then 2022 could well be characterised by rebalance. Much of the evidence points to a year of lower demand growth. Look for stimulus to wane, fiscal and monetary policy to tighten, and supply chains to refill. In this environment, commodity prices could settle from the extraordinary highs of 2021.

Metals and mining corporates: decisions, decarbonisation and discipline

For the diversified miners this will be a pivotal year. In the wake of COP26, mining companies are even more acutely aware of the outside perception of the sector, and the challenge that represents.

Yet the world needs mining companies to shift more material than ever before in 2022. Miners can unlock a faster decarbonisation pathway by accelerating production of the very building blocks of low-carbon technology. Will they position themselves as agents of change?

Read Metals and mining corporate: five things to look for in 2022 for our view on:

  1. Decision time for coal assets
  2. M&A – expect a measured approach
  3. Miners look for new domains
  4. Tightening decarbonisation targets, not budgets
  5. Cost inflation and lower prices to limit dividend growth

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Aluminium

Power prices and availability in Europe and China together with lingering impacts of Covid-19 and supply-chain disruptions are high on our list of key influences for aluminium in 2022. What’s the outlook for supply and demand?

Find out about this, and more, in Aluminium: things to look for in 2022.

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Uday Patel, Senior Research Manager, Global Aluminium Markets

Battery raw materials

Booming demand tested supply chains last year, with spot prices for all key battery inputs rising over the course of the year. On the technology front, the lithium iron phosphate – LFP – renaissance strengthened further. What does 2022 hold in store?

Read our view in Battery raw materials: 5 things to look for in 2022.

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Gavin Montgomery, Research Director, Battery Raw Materials

Bulk alloys

Bulk steel alloys markets experienced an eventful 2021, with surging alloy prices in H2. How will the chromium, manganese and silicon ferroalloy landscape shift in 2022?

Find out more in Bulk steel alloys: 5 things to look for in 2022.

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Jack Anderson, Principal Analyst, Metals Smelting & Refining

Cathode and precursor

2021 was characterised by higher than expected demand growth from the EV sector. What will define 2022? We explore price rises, battery recycling, automakers' investment – and the threat of a raw materials shortage.

Get our view in Cathode and precursor: 5 things to look for in 2022.

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Eileen Wu, Consultant, Battery Materials

Cobalt

2021 saw a dramatic shift in fundamentals in the cobalt market, leading to a technical deficit for the first time since 2016. 2022 will be another eventful year, from supply chain regionalisation to the battery boom and the quest for cleaner cobalt.

Find out more in Cobalt: 5 things to look for in 2022.

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Ying Lu, Senior Research Analyst, Energy Transition & Battery Materials Markets

Copper

In 2021 copper prices rallied to a ten-year high. In this report we share a view of prices in 2022, and look at the push for decarbonisation and the implications for scrap. Plus, could this be a year of two very distinct halves for copper?

Read more in Copper: things to look for in 2022.

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Eleni Joannides, Principal Analyst, Copper

Gold

The gold sector saw a resurgence in exploration budgets and spending in 2020 and 2021 – will that continue in 2022? From exploration spend, to M&A and ESG considerations we explore the key themes to watch.

Read our predictions in Gold: 5 things to look for in 2022.

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Graphite

The graphite industry in 2021 was marked by a tightening supply-demand balance, rising prices and strong demand recovery from the battery sector. Will these themes persist?

Read our view of the year ahead in Graphite: 5 things to look for in 2022.

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Suzanne Shaw, Principal Analyst

Iron ore

Chinese demand (or more specifically, Chinese pig iron production) will be the key driver of iron ore in 2022 – as it has for the last 20 years. What’s the forecast for the year ahead? Will price volatility persist?

Read our view in Iron ore: 5 things to look for in 2022.

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Paul Gray, Research Director, Iron Ore Markets

Lead

What’s the outlook for lead in 2022? Our experts pick out the key themes to watch, including exchange stocks, the EV revolution, Chinese smelter rationalisation and Stolberg’s return to production.

Find out more in Lead: 5 things to look for in 2022.

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Farid Ahmed, Principal Analyst, Lead Markets

Lithium

The lithium industry is poised to continue its remarkable transformation as global economies move forward with decarbonisation plans. What’s our demand growth forecast? Can it be matched by new supply? Will prices keep rising?

Read our view in Lithium: 5 things to look for in 2022.

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Allan Pederson, Principal Analyst

Metallurgical coal

Global metallurgical coal markets entered 2022 in a period of abnormally high prices and a trade looking for balance. Will that balance be found in the year ahead? And what impact will COP26 outcomes have?

Find out more in Global metallurgical coal: 5 things to look for in 2022.

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Anthony Knutson, Principal Analyst, Coal

Nickel

The nickel market of 2021 was characterised by a strong rebound in demand, with a notable growth in demand for nickel in battery precursors driven by accelerating EV adoption. What will the year ahead bring?

Read our view in Nickel: things to look for in 2022.

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Sean Mulshaw, Research Director, Nickel Markets

Noble alloys

What might offset the headwind of lower Chinese steel production for nobium? Will vanadium to niobium substitution pick up? And will molybdenum demand continue rising in 2022?

Find out about this and more in Noble steel alloys: 5 things to look for in 2022.

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Dale Hazleton, Head of Steel Alloys and Nickel Markets

Rare earths

For the rare earths industry, 2021 was a critical year with prices for some elements sustained well above historical averages. In 2022, we’ll be tracking Chinese consolidation and quotas, international trade in feedstock, ESG concerns and more.

Find out more in Rare earths: 5 things to look for in 2022.

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Steel

The steel story in 2022 will be about more than Chinese demand. Who will finance green steel? How will scrap’s role evolve? How will India's steel industry approach decarbonisation? And will supply risks abate?

Read our experts’ view of the year ahead in Steel: 5 things to look for in 2022.

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Malan Wu, Head of Steel and Raw Materials Markets

Thermal coal

Pandemic-driven economic stimulus, supply shortages and weather-related events combined to drive record-breaking prices in 2021. But will the market tightness continue through the rest of this year?

Read our view in Global thermal coal: 5 things to look for in 2022.

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Natalie Biggs, Global Head of Thermal Coal Markets

Zinc

Power prices and carbon intensity targets will play a critical role in the zinc market in 2022 – while the evolution of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic will add an overarching element of uncertainty. What’s our view of the year ahead?

Find out in Zinc: things to look for 2022.

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Jonathon Leng, Principal Analyst, Zinc Markets

Sustainable smelting

Sustainable smelting operations continue to grow. The development of green technology retrofits and the use of hydrogen and carbon capture continues at pace – but existing processes can't be replaced overnight.

Find out about this and more in 5 things to look out for in sustainable smelting during 2022.

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Metals and Mining Emissions Benchmarking Tool

How do you assess emissions-related risks in the metals and mining sector?

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