Metal Bulletin assessed the manganese flake in-warehouse price at $2,495-2,640 per tonne on Wednesday April 25, up 8.7% from the previous assessment and trading at levels last seen in December 2016.

The supply squeeze in Rotterdam and a lack of offers from China have pushed manganese flake prices up more than 14% from last week.

“There are few offers coming in from China and if you need material now you need to pay higher prices,” a trader said.

“The tightness is still there, traders are really short,” the trader added. “My bid at $2,400 got rejected, prices are creeping up to $2,700 levels now.”

Manganese flake prices started the year at $1,800-1,950 per tonne and have been on an uptrend for most of the year due to production stoppages amid environmental inspections in China.

The nationwide campaign against environmental violations has forced some smaller miners, smelters and flotation plants across 30 different Chinese provinces to close since the beginning of last year.

Though media reports that the head of state-controlled China Huarong Asset Management, Tianyuan Ningxia Manganese Industry Co’s (TMI) alleged financial backer, being under investigation for graft, continues to lift market sentiment.

TMI, the world’s largest manganese flake producer, has a production capacity of 800,000 tonnes per year, according to market sources.

When contacted by Metal Bulletin last week, TMI said their operations will continue as normal and the investigation will have no impact on the company.

“Forward prices are still aggressive, people are panicking. I’ve been selling at $2,200-2,300 for June deliveries,” a second trader said.