The NPI producer imported 397 tonnes of refined Russian nickel in July, according to Chinese customs data, when the LME nickel price-NPI nickel price arbitrage window was favourable. The same company had imported 4,525 tonnes of ferro-nickel during the first five months of the year, according to Chinese customs data.
Both stainless steel raw materials were imported with a view to raising the company’s products’ nickel content to make them more profitable, because NPI prices are paid according to nickel content.
However, over August to September, Chinese customs data show the major Chinese NPI producer had stopped importing both refined nickel and ferro-nickel, suggesting the blending trial failed for metallurgical reasons.
Market sources felt the blending trial was attempted in July because, at that time, the unit price of nickel in NPI in China was higher than the LME refined nickel price.
In fact it appears that Chinese metals traders...