Metal Bulletin’s selenium free market in-warehouse price rose to $19-21.50 per lb on Wednesday February 7, an increase of 2.5% from the previous assessment to a level last seen in May 2017.

“The market is really heading up,” a trader in Europe said. “We have seen many inquiries for selenium in the past few days – especially from India.”

Selenium prices have been in an upward trend since the beginning of the year due to healthy Indian demand.

“India keeps looking for material; there is not much stuff around [so] the Indian market is getting squeezed,” a second European trader said.

“Demand is very strong from all the sectors,” a trader in India said. “Prices are jumping up and away. I am hearing sales in India ranging $20-22 per lb.”

One of the main applications for selenium is pigmentation in glass manufacturing to color and decolorize glass as well as in paint, which comprises approximately 40% of selenium demand, according to the MMTA. Other applications for selenium include agriculture, where it is used as a supplement for animal feedstock and in electronics.

“New traders are coming into the market that I’ve never heard of before, hoping to lock in some profit,” a producer said.

“I can easily see prices spurring up to $22 [per lb] within the next week, we are not far away now,” the producer added.

Last time selenium prices were trading at the $22 per lb level was in April 2017, according to Metal Bulletin’s historic data, when production problems in Japan and Korea had taken material out of the spot market in the first three months of 2017.

Demand from manganese producers remains strong in China, market participants noted, with the rising manganese flake prices likely to continue supporting selenium prices. But the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday is expected to affect demand, with some market participants warning of a price correction.

Lunar New Year is on February 16 this year.

Metal Bulletin’s manganese flake prices increased to $2,000-2,220 per tonne on Wednesday February 7, up 3.2% from the previous assessment, a level last seen in May 2017, according to Metal Bulletin’s historic data.

Selenium is required for flake production to improve efficiency, increase yields and reduce production costs and usually follows manganese flake prices.