SHANGHAI, Dec 24 (SMM) – China’s imports of nickel ore fell for a second straight month in November, as the major supplier—the Philippines—was in the rainy season which affected cargo loading and shipping.
China imported 5.99 million mt of nickel ore last month, down 12.5% from October but up 84.1% from November 2018, according to SMM calculations based on data from China customs. Philippine materials accounted for 2.48 million mt, down 26.5% from a month ago but up 32.07% from a year ago.
In November, Indonesia overtook the Philippines as the top nickel ore exporter to China. Imports of nickel ore originating from Indonesia rose 7.4% month on month and 178.37% year on year to 3.34 million mt.
There was more than 3 million mt of Indonesian nickel ore imported to China every month since September, more than doubled from the same period in previous years, as Indonesia announced in September that it would ban exports of nickel ore from January 2020.
China’s nickel ore imports from regions beyond the two Southern Asian countries decreased 60.7% from October to 133,900 mt in November.
Charts: China’s nickel ore imports
The Indonesian government ordered a temporary halt to exports of nickel ore in late October on the back of investigations into violation of export rules, which affected scheduled deliveries and prompted traders to abort plans to ship more nickel ore out of Indonesia. This, coupled with disrupted supply from the Philippines who is beleaguered by adverse weather and high-grade resources depletion in Tawi-Tawi, has tightened nickel ore availability moving towards year-end.