Chinese refined nickel imports fell to a three-month low in
September, offset by continually rising nickel ore imports
ahead of next years ban of Indonesian raw materials,
according to Chinese customs data.
Refined nickel imports
to China totaled 11,967 tonnes in September, down 16.3 percent
from the previous month and a 12.7-percent decrease from the
same period last year (
amm.com, Oct. 21) . That total represents the
second-lowest amount of refined material imported in 2013.
Imports of nickel ore,
meanwhile, broke 6 million tonnes for the third time this year,
reaching 6.7 million tonnesa 27-percent increase from the
previous month and up 7.2 percent year on year.
Analysts said the
figures reflect increased internal production of nickel units
in China, in both nickel pig iron (NPI) ore imported from
Indonesia and domestic production of refined nickel
"Theres a lot of
nickel pig iron capacity that has come on stream this year and
is ramping up," Metal Bulletin Researchs analyst Andy
Cole told AMM. "All these furnaces need ore and this
is a time of year when production is expected to increase as
weve come out of the holiday period; theres a push
to meet annual targets by the year-end and demand is better
from stainless steel mills."
The marked increase in
nickel ore imports could also indicate stockpiling ahead of
Indonesias ore export ban, expected to take effect next
"Theres a degree
of stockpiling going on in case supply from Indonesia gets
constrained next year, either by way of the proposed ban or by
way of higher taxes and quotas," Cole said.
worldwide have felt the impact of Chinas NPI boom, which
analysts have attributed as a key factor behind the decline in
nickel prices this year.
commodities analyst David Wilson said he was "not convinced"
that Chinas NPI boom would maintain, adding that the
longer-term outlook for global nickel producers is "looking
more positive because NPI production cant (continue to)
expand at the rate it has."
said stockpiled inventories of nickel ore in China means that
the impact of any restrictions on Indonesia ore exports on the
global nickel market would not be felt immediately.
six months worth of inventory. You wouldnt see an
immediate stop in (NPI) production because of the
restrictions," Wilson said.