Bismuth prices rose on Wednesday January 15, as higher offers from China countered resistance from end users, sources told Metal Bulletin. 

In-warehouse Rotterdam prices rose by 10 cents to $9.00-9.50 per lb, from $8.90-9.40 per lb on Friday January 8. 

Export prices out of China have been rising since the beginning of the year, and reached as high as 9.50 per lb from $9.20-9.30 per lb last week, on the back of growing stocks on the Fanya exchange.

Stocks on the exchange now stand at 5,932.30 tonnes, up over 300 tonnes from 5,630 tonnes on January 9.

“Chinese offers are now at $9.30-9.40 per lb and [investors on] Fanya are very active,” a trader said.

Rising prices from China have pushed consumers to accept higher prices, despite no pickup in demand, sources said.

“End users don’t think there is a good reason for the market to go up, but they also can’t deny that on the Fanya exchange there are quite high stocks and that stock keeps accumulating,” a minor metals processor said.

While some sources have reported consumer inactivity outside China as they have been cautious about paying higher prices when there has been no fundamental pickup in demand, others have said consumers are buying material as they are nervous about further prices rises in future.

“In reality I don’t think the consumption has increased […] there is no shortage of bismuth whatever people say,” a second trader said.

Some market participants have expressed concerns that growing investor demand in China will drive bismuth prices up this year, as they did indium prices last year.

“We are not talking about something like indium that is used in small quantities. We are talking about an old traditional metal, and the Fanya exchange will take more than is exported,” the trader said.

The resistance from consumers has prevented prices moving up further, but some say the rising stocks on the exchange will continue to drive international prices.

Chloe Smith