SHANGHAI, Apr. 17 (SMM) – Prices for high-grade nickel pig iron (NPI) are bound to exceed 1,100 yuan ($178) this month on higher prices of nickel ores and the refined metal, Shanghai Metals Market foresees.
SMM prices for high-grade NPI climbed by nearly 3% month-on-month in March to 1,016 yuan per nickel unit.
Medium and high-grade nickel ore prices rose sharply after Indonesia enforced export ban on unprocessed ores from January, placing greater cost pressure on Chinese NPI producers, according to SMM’s research team.
Most NPI plants refrained from selling as a result, particularly in Shandong and Jiangsu provinces, unless to cover labor and power costs.
The strong rally in London Metal Exchange nickel prices since late February drove Chinese domestic nickel prices above 100,000 yuan per tonne, narrowing the price premiums of high-grade NPI over refined nickel.
China’s output of high-grade NPI slipped by 6.7% month-on-month to 38,900 tonnes in March, and was 8.6% lower year-on-year as producers in Shandong, Jiangsu and Inner Mongolia cut production.