Finnfjord to carry out maintenance work at ferro-silicon furnace in Q3, source says

Norwegian ferro-silicon producer Finnfjord Smelteverk will cut about 3,500 tonnes of production between July and August of this year because of planned maintenance to one of its furnaces, according to an industry source.

The company, which has its plant in the north of the country, operates three furnaces, one with capacity for 20,000 tonnes per year and two with capacities for 40,000 tpy.

Maintenance should start in July at the smaller furnace, with the company aiming to have it back in full production around the start of September. Some 5,000 tonnes of production was cut in the past quarter after Finnfjord carried out maintenance and repairs that had been postponed from the last quarter of 2017. Finnfjord produces 75% grade ferro-silicon, which it sells to customers in continental Europe and the United Kingdom.

In Europe, spot prices have climbed in the past week after third-quarter delivery settlements were concluded the week before. Metal Bulletin’s price assessment for ferro-silicon to major European destinations is €1,475-1,525 ($1,716-1,774) per tonne as of Friday June 29. This is off from a record high of €1,700-1,760 per tonne in January this year after prices strengthened steadily throughout 2017. The market was €1,100-1,130 per tonne at the end of 2016.

Third-quarter delivery settlements for 2018 have been done around the middle of the current spot price range, with reports of several hundred tonnes of standard grade ferro-silicon being sold at €1,490-1,510 per tonne delivered.

Finnfjord had planned to conduct maintenance at all three of its furnaces in the last quarter of 2017. It had postponed work on one furnace from January last year. The company has been operating within 5% either side of total capacity on a weekly basis since ramping up output at the start of 2015. The company had undertaken planned maintenance work on two of its furnaces in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Europe typically consumes around 600,000 tpy of ferro-silicon, relying on 400,000 tonnes of domestic production and 200,000 tonnes of imports. But that average has dropped in the past few years because European steelmakers have operated at reduced output against lower finished steel prices and a heavy volume of imports, particularly from China.

Ferro-silicon is used to remove oxygen from steel and as an alloying element to improve the final quality of the steel. Specialty ferro-silicon, such as high-purity and low-carbon ferro-silicon, is used in the production of special steel qualities for transformers and motors, ball bearings and shock absorbers, tire cord steel and in stainless steel.