SHANGHAI, Mar. 17 (SMM) -- After Japan was hit by earthquake, industry insiders concerned that whether or not Japan's nickel smelters will be affected, and whether or not China's imports of nickel from Japan will be affected.
According to data from China Customs and SMM, China's imports of nickel from Japan in 2010 totaled 10,840 mt, accounting for 6% of China's total imports of 182,884 mt. Japan's exports of NPI to China totaled 38,696 mt, accounting for 29% of China's total NPI imports of 134,407 mt.
It is reported that Japan has three large NPI producers. Pacific Metals NPI plant is located at Hachinohe-shi of Aomori in North Japan, with 44kt annual output capacity of (18-22%) NPI. The other two producers are Sumitomo Metal Mining and Nippon Metal Industry. Sumitomo Metal Mining is also a smelting base for refined nickel in Japan.
Only Pacific Metals' NPI plant has been forced to halt production after Japan was hit by earthquake and tsunami. Official from the company told that power cut and facility damage forced them to halt production. NPI exported from this company to China in 2010 was in the 6,000-7,000 mt range,with monthly output in the 500-600 mt range. In this context, temporal production halt in Japan will not greatly affect China's nickel import, and the long term impact shall depend on duration of production suspension.
According to SMM data, global nickel supply in 2010 was around 1.44 million mt, and nickel contained in nickel ore from Sumitomo was only 9,000 mt after conversion. In this context, Japan's earthquake limitedly affects nickel fundamentals.
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