Japan Writes Plan to Lift Indonesia’s Export Ban; LME Nickel Down

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“As you’d expect, Indonesia’s new restrictions on raw-mineral exports have gone down badly overseas…” reports The Financial Times.

“Japan’s importers were dismayed that Indonesia pushed ahead with the ban, following years of talks that culminated in a closed meeting in Bali last October between Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, and Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Japan had relied on Indonesia – the world’s biggest producer of the metal used to make stainless steel – for almost half of its imports. Many fear that big consumers could be hurt once stockpiles run out by early summer.”

“’We were not expecting [the Indonesians] to follow through with a total ban,’ says Toru Higo, general manager of nickel sales at Sumitomo Metal Mining (SMM), Japan’s second biggest importer. ‘We were shocked when they did.’”

“But this may not be the end of the matter. A senior government official told beyondbrics that Tokyo is sketching out a “Plan B” which could involve a package of private-sector investments backed by Jogmec, a state-run body in charge of ensuring stable supplies of natural resources. Jakarta has drawn up its new regime to safeguard the development of its own processing industry, so Japan is confident that with a strong enough show of support for long-term projects, the ban could be lifted.” Read on…

In metal price news for stainless steel and nickel…
On Tuesday, January 28, the day’s biggest mover was the nickel spot price, which saw a 2.0 percent decline on the LME to $14,255 per metric ton. The 3-month price of nickel fell 2.0 percent on the LME to $14,320 per metric ton, marking the fifth in a row of declining prices. The drop-off has accelerated since Wednesday, January 22. The Indian nickel cash price closed, following a couple days of improvement, the metal’s price weakened by 1.8 percent.

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Chinese stainless steel prices were mixed for the day. For the fifth consecutive day, the price of Chinese ferro-chrome held flat. The price of Chinese ferro-moly saw little movement.

The price of Chinese primary nickel fell 1.0 percent. For the fifth day in a row, the price of Chinese 316 stainless coil remained essentially flat. The price of Chinese 304 stainless coil was unchanged. The price of Chinese 316 stainless steel scrap saw essentially no change for the fifth day in a row. For the fifth day in a row, the price of Chinese 304 stainless steel scrap remained essentially flat.