GLOBAL MANGANESE WRAP: Ore prices falter in thin trading; alloy prices remain strong

Manganese ore prices stabilised last week, dipping slightly amid thin trading, as alloy prices rose in various regions.

  • Ore prices dip after weeks of rallying
  • Chinese silico-manganese prices hold
  • Chinese ferro-manganese prices edge higher
  • Alloy prices strong in USA, India and Europe
  • US supply remains tight

Metal Bulletin’s 37% manganese ore index, fob Port Elizabeth dropped 4 cents to $4.55 per dmtu, recording its first decrease in five weeks.

Metal Bulletin’s 44% manganese ore index, cif Tianjin dropped 3 cents to $5.73 per dmtu.

The dramatic manganese ore market rally of the past few weeks took prices to more than double their levels in March.

The market appeared to pause for breath as trading volumes dropped ahead of global holidays.

While numbers slipped, a relatively bullish tone persisted even as market participants attributed recent strength to non-fundamental factors, such as trader activity.

Manganese ore inventories remain relatively high, but large volumes of material are tightly held by traders.

It is unlikely that those holding material will release it until they can take profits or cover their purchase costs, sources said.

“Stocks are high but they’re mostly in the hands of traders who bought at $5.50 or above,” an ore producer told Metal Bulletin.

“Most of the companies holding stocks are state-owned, and will prefer to hold onto their stocks until prices go above that level,” the source added.

Chinese manganese alloys maintain strength
Metal Bulletin’s price quotation for domestic Chinese silico-manganese held at 6,700-7,000 yuan ($976- 1,020) per tonne.

Metal Bulletin’s price quotation for domestic Chinese ferro-manganese rose to 6,300-6,500 yuan per tonne, up 100 yuan at the higher end of its trading range.

“Manganese ore prices have recorded a strong upward trend, so we raised our offer price,” a major alloy producer told Metal Bulletin.

Elsewhere there was more strength in alloy markets as producers cited a response to higher ore prices and healthy demand for their own product.

Supply tightness buoys US FeMn, SiMn prices
In the USA, limited availability was the main factor supporting prices.

High carbon ferro-manganese prices, in warehouse Pittsburgh climbed for the third consecutive week, reaching a fresh three-month high $1,430-1480 per long ton on May 25, up from $1,400-1,450 on May 18, according to Metal Bulletin sister publication AMM’s latest assessment.

As stocks run low, suppliers have been able to continually raise prices, particularly within the trade.

“We had a trader come to us looking for material to cover up a short position, and after initially pushing back on our price, they ended up coming back for even more tonnage than they first asked for at the original price we offered,” a supplier source told AMM.

The source added that he had received several hundred tons of enquiries from other traders during the week.

“It’s clearly very tight right now and options are limited for those seeking material,” a second supplier source added.

Several traders have been scrambling for more material as the market approaches third quarter negotiations, sources reported.

Spot prices for silico-manganese, in warehouse Pittsburgh held at 65-68 cents per lb on May 25, according to AMM.

Silico-manganese prices have taken similar support from the tightened availability within the USA but demand has been subdued.

At least one major mill is preparing to settle second half enquiries, market sources reported, predicting that this will set a trend.

“We should get some feedback soon on a large second-half enquiry and then we expect the rest of the market to fall in line thereafter,” a third supplier source told AMM.

Additional mills are expected to enter the market after the holiday weekend.

“Once everyone is back from the holidays, this market should start to pick up quickly for third quarter requirements,” another supplier source told AMM.

Alloys firm elsewhere

Metal Bulletin’s price quotation for Indian silico-manganese rose to $1,080-1,125 per tonne, up $20 on the low end of its trading range.

Metal Bulletin’s price quotation for silico-manganese, delivered in Europe rose to €1,100-1,150 ($1,229-1,285) per tonne, up from €1,100-1,125 previously.

While concluded business came in around $1,100 per tonne, producers offered at or above the high end, according to sources.

Metal Bulletin’s price quotation for high-carbon ferro-manganese, delivered in Europe held at €1,200-1,280 per tonne, as concluded business was reported at €1,270 per tonne.

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