SHANGHAI, Jun. 22 (SMM) -- According to China Customs, China's imports of nickel ore were2.01 million mt in May, up 9.05% MoM and up 114.39% YoY. China's imports of laterite nickel ore were 1.99 million mt in May, including 1.09 million mt from the Philippines, up 132.5% YoY, as well as 898.68 kt from Indonesia, up 125.15% YoY. These increases in imports were in line with SMM predictions, and the steady MoM growth is mainly due to higher imports of laterite nickel ore. The steady expansion of NPI capacity in China is driving up demand for nickel ore, with many NPI producers preferring to directly import nickel ore themselves, resulting in a large amounts of nickel ore arriving at ports in May. According to SMM data, total inventories of nickel ore in Lianyungang, Rizhao, Lanshan, and Tianjin ports were 8.8 million mt one week before the Dragon Boat Festival. It is expected that imports of nickel ore will remain high in June.
Data from China Customs showed that China's imports of refined nickel in May were 10.719kt, down 35.80% MoM, which is due to unfavorable domestic/LEM nickel price ratio. LME nickel prices were RMB 20,000-30,000 higher than domestic nickel prices, and importers were more cautiously at such great price spread, resulting in significant decline of refined nickel ore importing volumes on a monthly basis.
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