NPI: Total import volume of NPI in March 2021 was 334,000 mt. Imports from Indonesia stood at 278,000 mt, an increase of 18.38% month-on-month but a year-on-year decrease of 1.9%. NPI and stainless steel capacity in Indonesia has commissioned simultaneously, and the growth in exports of NPI to China should be limited in the short term;
Nickel ore: In March 2021, China's nickel ore imports totalled 1.84 million mt (customs data involves both wmt and dmt). Among them, imports of laterite nickel ore stood at 1.77 million mt, and imports of nickel sulphide ore stood at 68,700 mt. Imports from the Philippines stood at 1.67 million mt, an increase of 29.2% month-on-month and a year-on-year increase of 70.95%. Inventory at NPI plants was low and the demand for nickel ore was strong. Shipments in March increased compared with the same period last year. Shipments from the Philippines in April were normal, and the import volume is expected to reach 4 million wmt;
Nickel Sulphate: Domestic nickel sulphate output has been restricted due to tight supply of raw materials (mainly intermediate products), while demand from the new energy industry remains strong, tightening the availability of spot nickel sulphate. This prompted some companies to purchase battery-grade nickel sulphate and crude nickel sulphate used in the production of battery-grade nickel sulphate from abroad, leading to significant increase in nickel sulphate imports.
Hydrometallurgical nickel intermediate products: In March 2021, the import volume increased by 5% month-on-month, and the year-on-year increase stood at 79%, mainly due to the recent increase in domestic precursor orders. Strong demand for intermediate products drove the increase in import volume, but the suspension of goro has limited the growth.
Refined nickel: China imported 12,106 mt of refined nickel in March, a rise of 29.99% month on month and an increase of 55.67% year on year. Imports of other unwrought alloy nickel accounted for 68.17% and stood at 8,253 mt, an increase of 1,611 mt compared with February; imports of unwrought non-alloy nickel with nickel and cobalt ≥99.99%, cobalt ≤0.005% stood at 3,853 mt, higher than the prior month. Imports from Canada stood at 1,709 mt, an increase of 449 mt from February; Imports from Norway stood at 2,617 mt, an increase of 1,111 mt from February; imports from South Africa stood at 501 mt, and imports from Japan’s Sumitomo stood at 1,326 mt. The import volume of Russian nickel stood at 1,114 mt.
Nickel Sulphate: Most of the exports were electroplating-grade nickel sulphate. The export volume in the past three years stood below 100 mt, and had little impact on net imports; the electroplating industry that had cut or halted production due to CNY holidays recovered in March, driving increase in exports.
Refined nickel: China exported 1,354 mt of refined nickel in March, a rise of 90.56% month on month but a decline of 71.15% year on year, all of which were exported to Asia and the bonded zone. The total import volume in the first quarter was only 2,578 mt, well below the same period last year.