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The government of India, this weekend, proposed a hike in the peak rate of import duties on steel products from 10 to 15%. The move, if approved, will likely stem the flood of cheap imports from Russia and China.

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While this was part of recommendations made by finance minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech, the timing of the decision will depend on the government notification after the budget is approved by Parliament so there is no immediate relief in sight for stainless steel producers who have been hit particularly hard by the cheap imports.

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Indian stainless steel manufacturers got some relief this week as the government proposed increasing import duties on Chinese and Russian importers.

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Surcharges fell in the US as well.

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Philippine nickel mining production grew 37% in the first nine months of 2014. The island nation’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau said Monday.

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Indonesia’s ban on raw ores was a boon to Philippine miners who filled the gap left behind for Chinese stainless steel manufacturers.

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European stainless steel producers Aperam and Acciai Speciali Terni followed Finland’s Outokumpu in raising stainless surcharges.

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The increases effectively reversed the drop in surcharge levels in early February.

Luxembourg-based Aperam set its alloy adjustment factor for type 304 (4301) flat products at €1,283/metric ton ($1,456/mt) for March, up €45 from February, while Italy’s Terni raised its 304 surcharge €34 to €1,322/mt.

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First Nickel wouldn’t be planning to invest as much as $900,000 in exploration drilling in 2015 if it didn’t believe its Lockerby, Ont., mine had a future longer than a year or two.

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The company made tough decisions in December, bringing in a new vice-president of Sudbury operations, developing a plan to cut expenses and employees, and resuming mining its ramp development between the 6,800-foot level, said FNI Chief Executive Thomas Boehlert.

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Steelmaker ThyssenKrupp AG profits were up in the first quarter of 2015, in the latest sign that the heavy restructuring undertaken by Chief Executive Heinrich Hiesinger is starting to pay off.

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The German industrial conglomerate said net profit for the period ended Dec. 31 was €50 million ($57.18 million), compared with a loss of €65 million a year earlier, boosted by a weaker euro.

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Monthly alloy surcharges on austenitic grades of stainless steel flat-rolled products for March in Europe are set to rise modestly, reversing the previous month’s decline, Platts reported according first mill announcements indicated Monday.

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Outokumpu, the continent’s largest producer, set its alloy adjustment factor for type 304 (4301) flat products at Eur1,324/million tons ($1,499/mmt) for March, up Eur32 from February.

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Nickel, among other key base metals, fell on the LME this week as many reached key levels.

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India renewed its push for import duties on imports of Russian and Chinese stainless steel.

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Base metals moved to lower prices in Thursday’s LME morning session in thin and volatile conditions in the absence of Asian market participants over Chinese New Year – nickel hit a one-year low and zinc its softest for three weeks.

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“For now, we would expect the metals to take their lead from the dollar/euro and from developments over Greece. Should a loan extension be agreed, there may be room for a relief rally,” FastMarkets analyst William Adams said.

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The nickel market went on a super-charged rally over the first half of last year, the benchmark London Metal Exchange (LME) three-month price racing up from below $15,000 per metric ton to a May high of $21,625.

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The trigger was the well-flagged but widely unexpected decision by the Indonesian government to ban the export of unprocessed minerals in January. At the stroke of a presidential pen, China’s massive nickel pig iron (NPI) sector lost its main source of feed. Great expectations, however, were dashed by reality, specifically a compensatory surge in nickel ore supply from the Philippines.

The subsequent price collapse was as spectacular as the original rally. And here we are again, the London nickel market kicking its heels around the $15,000 level.

Reuters’ Andy Home writes that the bull story hasn’t gone away. It has merely been postponed. Nickel is still metal analysts’ favored upside pick over a two-year time horizon. So, will this be nickel’s year (again)?

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