SHANGHAI, Jan 26 (SMM)—According to customs data, in December 2020, China's nickel ore imports totalled 3.17 million mt (wmt and dmt mixed), a decrease of 11.2% month on month and 26.6% year on year. Nickel ore imports from the Philippines stood at 2.48 million mt (customs data denotes both dry and wet mt), a decrease of 16.6% month on month and a year-on-year increase of 60.72%. Imports from New Caledonia increased by 58.6% from the previous month to 522,000 mt. Indonesia exported 79,200 mt of low-grade nickel ore to China, while Australia’s exports fell to zero. Shipments from the Philippines in January were slow on the back of adverse weather, and the imports are expected to decline significantly compared with December.
In 2020, China imported a total of 38.7 million mt of nickel ore and 38.1 million mt of laterite nickel ore, a cumulative decrease of 34.4% year-on-year. Among them, the imports from the Philippines stood at 31.8 million mt, a year-on-year increase of 0.7%, and the total annual imports from new Caledonia increased 47.8% to 2.73 million mt.
Nickel ore inventories across all Chinese ports decreased 260,000 wmt on the week to 8.61 million wmt as of January 22, showed SMM data. In Ni content, the stocks dropped 2,200 mt to 68,000 mt. Nickel ore stocks across seven major Chinese ports decreased 170,000 wmt during the same period to 6.77 million wmt.
According to customs data, China imported 340,400 mt of ferronickel in December 2020, a year-on-year increase of 70.36% and a month-on-month decrease of 11.66%. Among them, NPI imports from Indonesia stood at 256,000 mt, down 18.1% month on month. The customs clearance volume increased significantly in November due to the impeded inflow during China’s National Day’s Holiday in October, and normal imports resumed in December.
From January to December, imports totalled 3.44 million mt, soaring 80% year on year. Imports from Indonesia increased by 98.96% from 138,000 mt in 2019 to 274,000 mt in 2020. Indonesia's ferronickel grade also increased significantly, with the total Ni content increasing by more than 100%.
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