China’s refined nickel trade signals new production trends
China’s net imports of refined nickel fell to a near-decade low in 2023, capturing the tectonic shifts playing out in the global production chain.
China’s call on Class I high-purity nickel has been waning for many months as the country ramps up imports of other forms of the metal from Indonesia.
Much of that Indonesian material has traditionally been nickel pig iron (NPI) heading for China’s stainless steel sector.
More recently, trade flows have included rising amounts of matte and mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP) destined for conversion into electric vehicle batteries.
The latest evolution is the ability of Chinese operators to convert intermediates into refined metal, generating a rise in exports of Class I material.
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