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Chinese nickel sulfate prices fall as LME resumes nickel trading

  • Author
  • Jesline Tang    Christel Goh    Jun Kai Heng
  • Editor
  • Daniel Lalor
  • Commodity
  • Metals
  • Tags
  • Cobalt Nickel Sulfate Battery Metals Nickel
  • Topic
  • Battery Metals

Chinese nickel sulfate offers fell to around Yuan 50,000/mt ($7,870/mt) on March 17, down Yuan 15,000/mt week on week as three-month nickel prices on the London Metal Exchange (LME) stabilized below $50,000/mt on March 16 on newly imposed daily limits.

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S&P Global Commodity Insights assessed spot battery-grade nickel sulfate with minimum 22% nickel content and maximum 100 ppb magnetic material at Yuan 48,000/mt DDP China on March 17, down Yuan 8,000/mt day on day. The assessment had remained unchanged at Yuan 56,000/mt since March 10.

Offers were from Yuan 49,000-50,000/mt, down from a peak of Yuan 65,000/mt in the previous week when market uncertainty pushed offers to record highs, market sources said.

Despite lower offers, spot liquidity should remain low for some time as consumers continued to watch trading activity on the LME, market sources said.

"Nobody dares to buy now as the market is still stabilizing," a Chinese producer source said, adding they were hearing offers around Yuan 50,000/mt.

Even though sulfate prices do not usually move in tandem with that of its raw materials in the short term, the long-term trend is consistent as prices will still be adjusted, based on LME nickel prices, another Chinese producer said.

The resumption of nickel trading on the LME has had its fair share of challenges, with trading temporarily suspended shortly after reopening due to a systems error that allowed a small number of trades below the daily price limit, set at 5%.

The LME later said normal trading activity would resume with daily price movement limits increased to 8% from March 17, with reference to the previous business day's three-month contract closing price.

The three-month nickel price on the LME was trading at $41,945/mt, the lower limit for the day based on the March 16 closing price.

"Downstream consumers are just operating off their inventories for now and there could be plans to cut production if the situation takes a long time to resolve," one trader said.