James Carmichael, manager of NDE Johannesburg

“Recent exchange rate frailty in the value of the Rand combined with increases in the price of component materials such as nickel and chrome, have led to increases in the current price of stainless steel,” says James Carmichael, manager of stainless steel supplier NDE’s Johannesburg branch.

As at mid-November 2017 the price rises are threefold:  

- Chrome price increases from $1.10/LB to $1.39/LB (26% increase)

- Nickel price increase from 15 May @ $9310/ton to current levels of $12’285/ton

- Exchange rate, Rand weakening against the dollar 15 May @ R13.17 to current levels around R14.33 to $1

With only the nickel price and exchange rate taken into account, the increase is 45% in Rand terms.

Carmichael keeps a close eye on local Columbus prices as well as the London Metal Exchange and the value of the rand so that NDE’s customers countrywide are always kept in the loop about the best timing for their stainless steel purchases as well as the option of switching to alternative grades such as LDX for specific projects.

“The extensive advice we offer to our customers ranges from product to technical and also includes how to minimise price fluctuations and when to place orders with us - if customers’ timing and requirements permit – so that they can, for instance, purchase existing stock earlier or delay during a price upswing,” he says.

Antonie Davis, Johannesburg sales manager, has been in contact with his customers over the past weeks warning of the present price rise and devising alternative strategies.

“If serving the client to the best of my ability sometimes means deferring the purchase, then that’s what I do,” he said.