[ How big is the impact of the frequent suspension of Australian nickel mines? Imports are expected to decline in January as the rainy season continues in the largest importing country ]
SMM, January 30: Since January, overseas nickel mining companies have frequently faced shutdowns, according to information, the shutdowns are mainly located in Australia. According to SMM data, in 2023, the total amount of nickel ore imported overseas by China will first increase and then decrease, and will decrease by about 67% for three consecutive months starting in October; Among them, the Philippines is the main importer of nickel ore in China, and China's imports in December have decreased by about 75% compared with the high point of the year, and Indonesia and Australia have relatively small nickel ore imports. Therefore, the shutdown of some nickel ore enterprises in Australia has a relatively small impact on China's nickel ore supply.
Customs data shows that in December 2023, China imported 1.9406 million tons of nickel ore (mixed dry and wet according to customs data), down 49.8% month-on-month and 29.6% year-on-year. The import volume of nickel ore decreased month-on-month and year-on-year, which was basically in line with SMM's expectations, mainly due to the fact that Suligao, the Philippines, as the main mining area, had entered the rainy season in December and the raw material storage of domestic iron plants was basically completed, so the import volume was lowered in the month. In addition, the continued low price of ferronickel during December led to a strong reluctance to sell by smelters, resulting in a downward trend in domestic high-nickel pig iron production under the background of weak demand and accumulated factory warehouses, thus suppressing the demand for raw materials again.
Entering January, the rainy season continued in the Surigao region of the Philippines, and SMM expects that China's imported nickel ore will show a downward trend in January
List of nickel mining enterprises that have stopped production
In early January, Panorama Resources (ASX: PAN) closed its Savannah nickel mine in Western Australia's Kimberley region. The decision, announced last week, will eliminate 140 jobs.
On Jan. 15, Canadian mining company First Quantum Minerals said it would reduce its operations at its nickel mine in Australia and suspend mining operations at the Shoemaker Levy orebody.
On January 21, Wyloo Metals Pty Ltd., a privately owned nickel producer owned by billionaire Andrew Forrest, will close its mines in Western Australia due to a sharp drop in the price of this key transition metal. The company said the mine near Kambalda will be serviced and maintained from May 31. A Wyloo spokesperson added that the company informed BHP group that it would not be able to honour a nickel offtake agreement that would expire at the end of 2025. The company acquired the mines only six months ago. Wyloo, which has assets in Canada and Australia, also signed a joint venture agreement with IGO Ltd. last year to produce battery materials at a plant near Perth. Wyloo said in the statement that despite the closure of the mines, the company is looking into developing its own nickel concentrator in the Kambalda region.
On Jan. 22, BHP Group said it would overhaul and maintain parts of its Kambalda nickel mine in Western Australia. Previously, Wyloo Metals, which supplies ore to the concentrator, had announced that it would suspend mining operations due to low nickel prices.
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