According to customs data on Friday, China’s nickel imports in September increased by 24.6% from the previous month, reaching the highest level since Indonesia’s ban in 2016. Nickel mine inventories have decreased in January 2020, before China’s largest nickel importer, Indonesia, is about to implement the embargo. According to the statistics of the General Administration of Customs of China, China imported a total of 7.13 million tons of nickel ore and refined nickel ore last month.
This figure has increased by 24% compared to the same period last year, reaching the highest monthly import volume in the customs statistics database since January 2017.
Indonesia confirmed on September 2 that they will push the nickel export ban within two years, starting in 2020. They seek to process their resources in their countries. Affected by rumors in August, China, the world’s largest buyer of nickel ore, fluctuated in its inventory, but greater volatility occurred in September. China imported 2.51 million tons from Indonesia last month, up 56% from the previous month and up 47.5% from last year. This is also the highest level since 2016.
Shandong, the eastern province of China, uses nickel ore to produce nickel pig iron as a raw material for stainless steel production. The province expects imports to be even higher in October.
“Most of the materials purchased in September will arrive in October,” he said. The production of stainless steel in China is “not very good” at this time. Xu Andong, an analyst at Beijing Antec, said. “All the nickel mines they buy may be used primarily next year,” she said. She expects that the total monthly imports for the rest of 2019 will be no less than 5 million tons.
Although the export license expires in December, the Indonesian Minister of Mines has proposed an increase of about 330,000 tons of nickel ore exports to the miner Antam.
“From now until the end of the year, the amount of nickel are exported by Indonesia will reach 8-10 million tons, which is higher than our expectation. We previously expected it to be 80,000 tons to 100,000 tons.” Analyst Jim Lennon said in London, Megley on Thursday.
“So China will have stocks for nickel pig iron producers to maintain their current operations by mid-next year,” he said.
Another source of nickel ore that can replace Indonesia, the shipment of low-grade nickel from the Philippines to China reached a new high of nearly 4.39 million tons in September.
This is a 10% increase from the previous month and an increase of 14.5% from last year.