METALS-Nickel hits six-week high on Philippine supply risks

* Shanghai bonded copper premiums up $5 to highest since May

* More nickel gains in coming months - analysts (Adds closing prices)

By Maytaal Angel

LONDON, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Nickel hit a six-week high on Friday as markets prepared for more possible mine suspensions in the Philippines next week as part of a crackdown on environmental lapses in the world's biggest nickel ore supplier.

A dozen more Philippine mines, mostly nickel projects, are in danger of being suspended when the government announces the results of its audit next Tuesday.

The Philippines has already halted the operations of 10 mines, eight of them nickel producers, since it launched an audit in July.

"There's a massive risk in this market. There really isn't another country that can step in to the gap if a substantial amount of Philippine material is taken out," said Macquarie analyst Vivienne Lloyd.

The Philippines accounts for more than 90 percent of China's nickel ore imports.

Nickel on the London Metal Exchange ended flat at $10,660 a tonne, having earlier hit a six-week high of $10,715. Prices gained 9.3 percent this week, the biggest weekly rise since July.

Data on Thursday showed China's nickel ore imports in August climbed to a 13-month high of 4.3 million tonnes, as traders stock up in anticipation of a supply crunch.

The nickel smelting industry in Indonesia, however, fears prices could tumble as the government considers a policy revision that could allow nickel ore and bauxite shipments to resume.

LME copper ended flat at $4,855 a tonne, but gained 1.2 percent on the week.

The metal, widely used in construction and electronics, rose more than 3 percent last week, its biggest weekly gain in two months, after Chinese economic data indicated a firmer tone to the housing market and a revival in factory activity.

Premiums for Shanghai copper have climbed to the highest since May at $55-65, as industrial activity ramps up after summer.

Aluminum ended up 0.2 percent at $1,636 a tonne, having earlier hit a month high of $1,652.50, with volumes extremely high at above 22,500 lots. Broker Marex Spectron said it has seen strong demand for aluminum from speculators.

Tin closed up 0.8 percent at $19,645 a tonne. LME data showed on warrant or available tin stocks tumbled 38 percent to 1,860 tonnes, their lowest levels according to Reuters data which goes back to 1999.

Zinc ended down 0.8 percent at $2,276 a tonne while lead closed down 1.5 percent at $1,919.50 a tonne.


Three month LME copper

Most active ShFE copper

Three month LME aluminum

Most active ShFE aluminum

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

(Additional reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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