BEIJING, Feb 6 (Reuters) -
* China’s refined nickel production in January fell by 33.4% from the previous month to 10,650 tonnes as the coronavirus outbreak hits consumption of the metal, research house Antaike said on Thursday
* Output of nickel pig iron, a raw material for stainless steel producers, fell by 4.8% to 44,000 tonnes of metal equivalent, Antaike, the research arm of the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association, said
* Many Chinese stainless steel plants have postponed their return to work as regional governments look to contain the spread of the virus, which has killed 563 people
* Mills stocked up before the Lunar New Year holiday from Jan. 24 but transport restrictions will likely mean disruption to raw material supply and outbound deliveries, Antaike said
* Nickel smelters will also face ore shortages if the epidemic situation prolongs, it added
* Demand for battery-grade chemical nickel sulphate has also been hit as automotive firms postpone work, Antaike said; a senior Tesla executive has said deliveries of its Model 3 cars from Shanghai will be delayed. (Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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