Metals News
[SMM Analysis] 2019H1 Summary of supply and demand of laterite nickel ore in China and prospect of supply and demand for the whole year
translation
12:10AM
Source:SMM
The content below was translated by Tencent automatically for reference.

SMM, July 25 / PRNewswire-Asianet /-

(note: all nickel deposits mentioned in this article refer to laterite nickel deposits)

From January to June 2019, China imported a total of 28.68 million wet tons of laterite nickel ore, an increase of 15 per cent over the same period last year. Of these, imports of medium and high nickel ores were 21.55 million wet tons, an increase of 10 per cent over the same period last year, while imports of low nickel ores were 6.32 million wet tons, an increase of 48 per cent over the same period last year.

Country by country:

Philippines:

China imported 15.5 million wet tons of laterite nickel ore from the Philippines, up 6 per cent from a year earlier. Among them, imports of low nickel mines in the Philippines increased significantly year on year, by 49 per cent, with an absolute increase of 1.94 million wet tons, while imports of medium and high nickel mines fell by 1.01 million wet tons, or 10 per cent, compared with the same period last year.

Taste quantity of Philippine nickel ore imported from China

Proportion of taste in imported Filipino nickel ores from China

The main reason for the decline in imports of medium and high nickel mines is that Indonesia's medium and high nickel mines have squeezed out the Philippine nickel market: 1. The use of higher grade nickel ore in nickel pig iron plant can save the production cost of high nickel pig iron per metal ton (including electricity charge, auxiliary materials, sea freight of nickel mine, etc.). two。 The grade of medium nickel ore in the Philippines is concentrated in Ni1.3-1.5%, while the grade of medium nickel ore in Indonesia is above Ni1.65%. With the increase in the export volume of medium and high nickel mines in Indonesia, the export of nickel mines below Ni1.5% in the Philippines has gradually decreased or even suspended.

The significant increase in low-nickel ore imports is mainly due to: 1. The domestic production of low nickel pig iron increased compared with the same period last year, thus increasing the demand for low nickel ore. two。 Iron ore prices have risen sharply this year, while low-nickel ore contains about 49 per cent iron, which is well below iron ore prices, so some steelmakers import low-nickel ore to replace iron ore. SMM did incomplete statistics on customs data for June, with about 610000 wet tons of low-nickel ore entering the steel industry, accounting for 27 per cent of imports of low-nickel ore that month.

SMM estimates that the import volume of all grade nickel ores in the Philippines in the second half of the year is the same as that in the first half of the year (22 per cent for high nickel ore,-18 per cent for medium nickel ore and 49 per cent for low nickel ore). In 2019, China's imports of Filipino nickel ore are expected to be 43 million wet tons, of which 24.8 million wet tons for high nickel ore and 18.2 million wet tons for low nickel ore.

Indonesia:

From January to June 2019, China imported 12.38 million wet tons of Indonesian laterite nickel ore, an increase of 32 per cent over the same period last year and 20 per cent from the second half of 2018, of which 97 per cent was high nickel ore.

The increase in exports coincided with the increase in Indonesian export quotas. According to SMM data, as of July 24, 2019, the effective export quota is 29.79 million wet tons, and at present in the shipment of mines, with the exception of PT Adhikara Cipta Mulia suspended shipment due to mine formalities, the rest of the normal shipment.

Table of export quotas for nickel mines in Indonesia (expired quotas are not shown)

Similarly, at the same rate of increase as in the first half of the year (32 per cent year-on-year), China's imports of Indonesian laterite nickel mines for the whole of 2019 are expected to be 26 million wet tons, below the previous SMM forecast of 2 700-28 million wet tons. The main reason is that after the nickel mine export quota expires this year, the examination and approval has become stricter, and the quota of some mining enterprises whose construction progress of smelting projects is not up to standard has shrunk or the approval of new quotas has been repeatedly delayed, such as Fajar and Macika.

According to SMM, China imported about 1.98 million wet tons of Indonesian nickel ore in July. If the average monthly import volume reaches 2.755 million wet tons from August to December (the maximum monthly import volume in the first half of the year is 2.74 million wet tons), China's imports of Indonesian nickel ore are expected to reach 28 million wet tons, of which 27.4 million wet tons of high nickel ore.

Of course, given that there are still more export quotas applied for, there is still a high probability that China's imports of Indonesian nickel mines will increase year-on-year in the second half of the year compared with the first half of the year.

Other countries:

From January to June 2019, China imported 810000 wet tons of nickel laterite from other countries, all from New Caledonia, down 23 per cent from a year earlier. China has suspended imports of Guatemala's laterite nickel mines this year because of its distance from China and its high sea freight costs, which are not as economical as high-grade nickel mines from Indonesia. SMM expects China to import 1.6 million wet tons of nickel laterite from other countries for the whole year, down 21 per cent from a year earlier.

Supply and demand balance of nickel mines in China

To sum up, SMM expects China's laterite nickel mine to remain in oversupply for the whole of 2019, with an excess of about 60, 000 metal tons.

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