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Japan’s Nickel-Ore Imports From Indonesia Advance 81% in May

Japan’s imports of nickel ore from Indonesia jumped 81 percent in May from a year earlier, finance ministry data showed, as buyers stepped up purchase before the Southeast Asian nation curbed shipments.

Inbound shipments of nickel ore from Indonesia soared to 200,176 metric tons last month, compared with 110,679 tons a year earlier, the finance ministry data showed today. Japan imported 171,685 tons of ore from Indonesia in April. Nickel is used to strengthen stainless steel.

Indonesia, the largest producer, said May 3 it would ban exports of some raw minerals effective May 6, with an exception for miners that plan to build local processing facilities. Those miners would be assessed for a 20 percent tax on ore shipments.

Japan imported 3.65 million tons of ore in 2011, according to finance ministry data. Indonesia supplied 1.95 million tons, or 53 percent, followed by New Caledonia with 27 percent and the Philippines with 19 percent, the data showed.

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