The grade 553 silicon metal, basis 98.5%, export price from China dropped to $1,680-1,800 per tonne on Friday December 1, down 2.5% from the previous assessment.
Purchases for first-quarter delivery from Japanese traders has entered a second week, with more competitive bidding in each tender.
Winning prices for several tenders ranged $1,700-1,780 per tonne cfr Japan, Metal Bulletin learned from multiple buyer sources.
The majority of Japanese buyers have secured enough material for the first quarter of 2018 and are therefore less likely to release spot inquiries after this round of purchases, Metal Bulletin understands.
This differs from the previous tender period in August-September when China silicon prices hit multi-year highs. Export traders have lowered offer prices this time round, given subdued domestic prices and because inventories have built up significantly in the past two months.
In addition, sellers with stock in hand are rushing to destock to balance their books by year-end.
But the market expects a rebound in prices because more refineries plan to stop production during the dry season, when energy prices go up because of the lack of hydroelectricity.
“Some refineries told me they will stop production as soon as they use up their raw materials,” a trader in China said.
“Electricity companies are pretty determined to maintain high power tariffs this winter, even if this means they will have fewer customers when refineries close down during the winter period,” the same trader added.
“It may take some time for us to see a rebound, but there is limited space for silicon export prices to fall further,” a second trader in China said.
European market subdued
Meanwhile, the European silicon market remained quiet last week with little spot activity reported.
Metal Bulletin’s grade 441 silicon in-warehouse Rotterdam prices were firm at €2,215-2,325 ($2,634-2,763) per tonne on Friday, unchanged from the previous assessment.
The grade 553, min 98.5% Si in-warehouse Rotterdam price assessment was also steady at €2,150-2,200 per tonne on Friday.
China’s silicon metal export price plunged in Metal Bulletin’s latest assessment, with export traders lowering their offers to secure bookings.