Selenium prices fell further in China on continuing trader destocking, while shifting purchasing strategies by end-users may “change the rules of the game”, market sources told Metal Bulletin.

The Metal Bulletin selenium price in China dropped to 530-560 yuan ($86-91) per kg on Friday April 26, compared with 540-570 yuan on April 24.

Selenium dioxide remained flat at 360-380 yuan per kg.

“Lower prices have continued to emerge. The cheapest I have heard is 500 yuan per kg. I also received an unsolicited offer from overseas at $30 per lb,” a selenium trader said.

Cheap domestic-produced crude selenium led to still-lower prices, he added.

In March, China imported 136.04 tonnes of selenium, up 54.6% from February and 18.8% higher year-on-year.

Market responses to the figures were mixed.

“Are you sure it was 136 tonnes? Not 13.6 tonnes? I think volume will definitely go down in April, then,” one market source said.

“At least it is self-evident that inventory went even higher in China,” the source added.

“Maybe demand is not that bad after all. Some people may be buying selenium in prodigious amounts after prices fell to new lows recently,” a second source said.

“One game-changer from March’s customs data is that there are two new importers,” he added.

Two selenium end-buyers from the manganese industry have started buying the material directly from overseas suppliers for the first time, according to the customs breakdown.

“These two buyers had already expressed the interest as they wanted to control costs,” a third market source said.

“If they start to do this aggressively, the room for traders will shrink even more,” he added.

The two manganese producers imported 4.5 tonnes in March in total, customs showed.

“One of our priorities this year is to expand our overseas supply channels, rather than relying totally on other importers and traders,” one of the two end-buyers told Metal Bulletin.