MANILA, Jan 11 (Reuters) - The Philippines’ largest nickel producer, Nickel Asia Corp, said on Wednesday it had signed a deal with a Mitsubishi Corp unit to sell about 800,000 wet metric tonnes (WMT) of saprolite and limonite ore to China this year.
Nickel Asia, partly owned by Japan’s Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd, said the agreement with Mitsubishi Corporation (Shanghai) Ltd (SSL) was “a major step forward” in improving its marketing strategy in China.
“This would enable the company to tap SSL’s strong network and access to market intelligence in China,” it said in a statement.
Nickel Asia has so far sealed deals to sell a total of 8.9 million WMT of saprolite and limonite ore to various customers this year, including an agreement to supply close to 2 million WMT to a unit of China’s largest listed steelmaker, the Baosteel Group.
Nickel Asia’s total ore shipments last year jumped 25 percent to a record 10.4 million WMT valued at 12.1 billion Philippine pesos ($275 million), thanks to robust demand by nickel pig iron producers in China.
Nickel Asia also said it had reached an agreement with key Japanese buyers Pacific Metals Co Ltd and Sumitomo Metal to improve pricing of its high and medium grade saprolite ore.
It said the pricing adjustment, which was made possible by strong competition from the China market, will help cushion an expected drop in nickel prices this year.
Shares of Nickel Asia ended the morning session down 0.2 percent in a market that rose 1.7 percent to a new peak. (Reporting by Erik dela Cruz; Editing by Michael Urquhart)