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METALS-Nickel jumps on talks of Indonesia export ban

Mai Nguyen and Melanie Burton

(Adds quotes, details; Updates prices)

SINGAPORE/MELBOURNE, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Nickel prices shot up on Thursday, with London nickel touching a 16-month high and Shanghai nickel hitting a record amid worries that major supplier Indonesia could soon ban exports of ore.

Three-month nickel on the London Metal Exchange rallied as much as 12.7% to $16,690 a tonne, its highest since April 2018. The contract eased later in the session to rise 6.6% by 0407 GMT.

The most-traded nickel contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rallied at its ceiling trading limit of 6% to 124,890 yuan ($17,733.00) a tonne, a record high.

"This is a very sexy price. For miners, higher price always makes us happy," said a trader with a nickel mine.

Traders and analysts cited market chatter that major nickel ore supplier Indonesia, which also supplies tin, would move a ban to export ores to earlier than expected.

Indonesia relaxed the ban in 2017, but said at the time that it would last only five years and that exports would be restricted again in 2022.

"People believe the ban is coming," said an executive at a major nickel producer in Indonesia.

London tin advanced 1.7% and Shanghai tin increased 1.2%, also having eased from stronger rallies in early Asian hours.

FUNDAMENTALS

* OPEN INTEREST: London nickel's open interest <MNI-OI-TOT> touched a record high earlier this month, while open interest for the Shanghai October contract hit its highest since March 2018, indicating strong interest in nickel.

* CHINA COPPER: China's unwrought copper imports bounced back in July, rising 28.8% from June to 420,000 tonnes, the highest volume since January, official data showed, as restrictions on scrap boosted demand in China.

* COPPER: Production at Chile's state-owned Codelco copper mining company fell 12.1% to 769,400 tonnes in the first half of 2019 compared with the same period last year, the country's Cochilco copper commission said on Wednesday.

* PRICES: London copper rose 0.9%, aluminium advanced 1.4%, zinc increased 0.8% and lead was up 1.5%. In Shanghai, copper advanced 0.9%, aluminium edged up 0.2% while zinc eased 1.3%.

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PRICES

Three month LME copper

Most active ShFE copper

Three month LME aluminium

Most active ShFE aluminium

Three month LME zinc

Most active ShFE zinc

Three month LME lead

Most active ShFE lead

Three month LME nickel

Most active ShFE nickel

Three month LME tin

Most active ShFE tin

ARBS ($1 = 7.0428 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Mai Nguyen, Melanie Burton and Tom Daly; Editing by Richard Pullin and Shounak Dasgupta)