Finnfjord to stop FeSi production for two weeks, source says

Norwegian ferro-silicon producer Finnfjord Smelteverk will stop ferro-silicon production for two weeks from this weekend because of planned maintenance to its three furnaces, a source told Fastmarkets.

The amount of production that will be lost is unclear, although output was down by about 3,500 tonnes when it carried out maintenance on one furnace in the third quarter of 2018.

Based in the north of Norway, Finnfjord operates three furnaces - one with the capacity to produce 20,000 tonnes of 75% grade ferrp-silicon per year and two with capacities of 40,000 tpy.

Finnfjord mostly sells to customers in continental Europe and the United Kingdom and the company said no customer contracts will be affected by the stoppage.

Trade sources also reported that Norway-based ferro-silicon producer Elkem will temporary cut production at its European operations this month due to planned maintenance, although officials at the company could not be reached for comment.

Tighter supplies and availability, as well as a pick-up in consumer demand in the stainless steel sector, have led to an increase in standard grade ferro-silicon prices in Europe in recent weeks. And spot prices look set to increase further in the near term after producers this week reported done deals for delivery settlements through the fourth quarter at €950-1,000 per tonne.

One producer reported doing deals for around two-thirds of its planned output up to the start of January, with most of its contracts settled at €965-970 per tonne delivered.

Fastmarkets’ price assessment for ferro-silicon to major European destinations was €900-950 ($1,067-1,127) per tonne as of Friday September 11.

This is down from the record high of €1,200-1,275 per tonne achieved in January 20202, after prices had steadily recovered in the last few months of 2019 after slumping in the year until then. The market ended 2019 at around €1,050-1,100 per tonne from an annual low of €900-920 per tonne in September after starting the year at €1,700-1,760 per tonne.

This year there have been production cuts in Europe at major producers such as Ferroglobe.

In 2019, Ferroglobe announced production cuts in France, with two furnaces producing ferro-silicon at Chateau-Feuillet idled on September 30 and a third in Laudun idled on November 15 - moves that were due to last for four to six months, with Ferroglobe monitoring market conditions to decide when furnaces should restart, it said at the time. The furnaces remain idles and at the time of publication there had been no official update on the situation.

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 ratio has changed in the past few years because European steelmakers have operated at reduced output because of lower finished steel prices and due to large volumes 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 for transformers and motors, ball bearings and shock absorbers, as well as for tire cord steel and in the production of stainless steel.

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