SHANGHAI, Dec 1 (SMM)—According to customs data, China's nickel ore imports totalled 5.1 million mt (customs data denotes both dry and wet mt) in October, a 17.9% increase from the previous month and a year-on-year decline of 25.6%. Nickel ore imports from the Philippines stood at 4.6 million mt (customs data denotes both dry and wet mt), a decline of 16.3% month-on-month but a year-on-year increase of 35.96%. The impact on shipments due to the adverse weather in the Philippines and China’s National Day holidays in October accounted for sharp declines in imports compared to September. Shipments from New Caledonia also declined slightly. The rainy season in the Philippines came in November, and Philippine shipments continued to decline compared with October.
On November 27, the inventory of nickel ore in all ports across the country increased by 310,000 tons from last week to 9.238 million wet tons. The total amount of metal equivalent was 73,300 tons, an increase of 2400 nickel tons from November 20. Inventories of ore at the seven Chinese ports increased 250,000 wmt on the month and stood at 6.94 million wmt.
SMM prices of Ni1.5% ore stood at $74-76/wmt on November 25, unchanged from November 21. As of Friday, prices of high-grade NPI fell to 1,040/mtu (ex-works tax included). The low-end of prices stood at 1,020-1,030/mtu (tax included, delivered to factory), and the high-end on Friday stood at 1,080-1,120/mtu (tax included,delivered to factory), mainly due to strong demand. The mainstream acceptable price by steel mills remains below 1,050 yuan/mtu (tax included,delivered to factory). Big NPI plants in Shandong cut production by a half due to losses, and some of the plants in Guangxi and Inner Mongolia plan to or have cut production.
Prices of nickel ore have fallen. Prices of Ni1.3% nickel ore in the Philippines fell to $51/wmt. Prices of Ni1.5% ore are likely to fall to $65-66/wmt. Nickel ore prices are expected to fall further due to weaker purchases by NPI plants, pushing for lower nickel ore prices. Prices of Ni 1.5% nickel ore are likely to drop to $50/wmt. Mainstream traded prices of medium-grade nickel ore are likely to fall to $64-66/wmt this week.