Miners in the Philippines are offering nickel ore at higher levels to Chinese buyers, amid gains for the metal on the London Metal Exchange and limited supply.

The price for high-grade 1.8% nickel ore rose to $80-82 per tonne cif China on Tuesday April 15, $9-10 per tonne higher than the price a week ago.

In late March, prices were around around $62-64 cif China.

“Philippines’ miners are aggressively raising offers,” a buyer from Xiamen in China’s Fujian province, told Metal Bulletin, adding that they had received an offer ore nickel ore with 1.8% nickel content at $85 cif China this week.

“So far, I haven’t heard any deals at that number but it will come through soon,” he added

A nickel pig iron producer based in Jiangsu also confirmed that the price had risen above $80 cif China.

“The quick and large price jump on the LME gave an upward momentum to ore prices,” the producer said, adding that he had heard a price above $90 cif China for 1.9% content ore.

LME nickel prices have gained around 25% since the beginning of the year.

“Now we are very cautious as the ore prices are too high. It is more expensive than the current prices at the local ports,” a source from a major NPI producer said.

Following high ore prices, the NPI producers have also raised offers, with many unwilling to sell at all.

On Tuesday April 15, high grade NPI (Ni 10-15%) was up 100-120 yuan ($16-19) from last week to reach at 1,150-1,180 yuan per nickel unit in the local spot market.

“The market is in a mess and NPI producers are very reluctant to do business due to the fast rising price of nickel ore. Some have also started to cut production on falling ore stocks,” a trader from Shanghai said.

China produced around 389,000 tonnes of nickel pig iron in March, down 7% from February’s 417,000 tonnes, data from SMM showed.

The nickel ore market in China may be tighter than estimates suggest, as consumers scramble to replace supply lost since Indonesia banned ore exports, according to Macquarie.