SHANGHAI, Dec 30 (SMM) – About 229,000 mt in physical content of nickel was imported into China in the form of ferronickel (FeNi) and nickel pig iron (NPI) in November, showed the latest Customs data.
This was 62.8% higher from a year ago, and 35.65% higher from a month earlier.
Indonesia, New Caledonia, and Brazil were the top three suppliers to China last month, accounting for 187,600 mt, 13,900 mt, and 5,400 mt of imports, respectively.
Imports in the first 11 months of the year grew 93% from the same period in 2018, and stood at 1.72 million mt in physical content.
In January-November, materials from the top supplier Indonesia soared 125% year on year on the back of rising new smelting capacity in the country. The world’s top nickel miner Indonesia would ban nickel ore exports from January 2020 as it seeks to process more of its resources at home.
On Ni content basis, China’s overall imports in November were roughly the same as that in September, standing at 34,600 mt, even as the imports in physical volumes last month were 14,000 mt higher than September.
Compared to September, intake of Indonesian lower-grade NPI was 20,000 mt in physical content higher in November while imports of FeNi with a grade above 15% fell 6,000 mt in physical volumes, SMM calculations showed.
SMM expects China’s monthly average imports of FeNi and NPI to stay at high levels of 30,000-35,000 mt in Ni content before commissioning of new stainless steel projects in Indonesia.