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China’s Nickel, Stainless Imports Rise in March

China’s imports of nickel ore and ferronickel increased in March. Strong demand for stainless steel also led to a month-on-month increase in stainless steel imports and exports.

Kallanish notes from Chinese Customs data, China’s nickel ore imports in March totaled 1.84 million tonnes, up by 25% month-on-month and 14% year-on-year. Imports from the Philippines increased by 29% on-month to 1.67mt, but almost no nickel ore arrived from Indonesia with the imports of only 100t. In the first quarter, China imported 4.75mt of nickel ore, including 4.03mt from the Philippines.

The imports of ferronickel meanwhile jumped by 18% on-month and 2% y-o-y to 334,400t. This includes 277,800 tonnes from Indonesia, up by 19% on-month but down by 1% on-year. Total imports of ferronickel in Q1 were 972,700t, up by 22% on-year. About 801,000t ferronickel were imported from Indonesia in Q1, seeing an increase of 17%.

As China restarted the imports of scrap from 1 January, imports of stainless scrap saw a rebound. In the first quarter, China imported 16,787t of stainless scrap, 14,068t of which was cleared in March.

Stainless steel inventories have continued to decline in recent months, and strong demand has led to an increase in China’s stainless steel imports. In March 2021, China’s stainless steel imports totaled 168,200t, an increase of 4.54% m-o-m and 173.50% y-o-y. Customs data suggests that China’s total stainless steel imports were 545,500t in Q1, an increase of 159.02% y-o-y. Meanwhile, stainless steel exports were 308,600t in March and 870,700t in Q1, a y-o-y decrease of 16.12% for March but an increase of 7.48% over Q1.

By Kallanish Team