GLOBAL MANGANESE WRAP: Ore prices hold steady amid sufficient smelter stocks; alloy prices weaken in Asia

Manganese ore prices were largely stable on Friday August 4, reflecting the slowing of raw material purchasing at manganese alloy smelters, citing plentiful stocks.

  • Manganese ore prices stabilise while smelter buying flurry wanes
  • Manganese alloys prices weaken in China and India
  • Ferro-manganese rise further in USA on tight supply
  • Europe flatlines in thin trading

Metal Bulletin’s 37% manganese ore index, fob Port Elizabeth, dropped 2 cents to $4.33 per dmtu

Metal Bulletin’s 44% manganese ore index, cif Tianjin, rose 4 cents to $6.03 per dmtu.

Traders cut port price offers to entice buyers, sources in China said.

“Traders cut port offers to boost sales, while overall trade remains inactive. We think smelters may start to buy ores by the week after next,” a major trader in Shanghai told Metal Bulletin.

Smelters have bought large volumes of ore from overseas miners in recently weeks, meaning they are well stocked, other sources said.

“As far as I know smelters have booked more cargo from miners recently so they have a lot of cargo on hand,” a second trader told Metal Bulletin.

Most market participants outside China, including sources at large miners, agreed prices have been stable.

“At worst, this market is stable. I had been predicting a crash for a long time but it hasn’t happened. Somehow I think we have underestimated the strength of the steel sector in China,” a miner told Metal Bulletin.

But some continued to express concern about surging South African exports and that reduced port prices indicate growing caution among Chinese market participants.

“We are seeing a lot more caution in China now. Traders can’t charge premiums for prompt material in the ports because there is a lot of material about to arrive in China,” a supplier told Metal Bulletin.

Meanwhile, Chinese manganese alloys prices held steady or weakened slightly.

Metal Bulletin assessed Chinese spot silico-manganese prices at 6,900-7,300 yuan per tonne on Friday August 4, unchanged from the previous week.

Chinese spot ferro-manganese prices weakened by 50 yuan per tonne at the low end of the trading range to 6,500-6,600 yuan per tonne.

The most-traded September silico-manganese contract on the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange closed the week at 7,078 yuan per tonne on Friday August 4, compared with 7,112 yuan the previous week.

Elsewhere in Asia, there was similar weakness.

Metal Bulletin’s price quotation for silico-manganese, fob India, dropped to $1,100-1,135 per tonne from $1,110-1,150 per tonne previously.

By contrast, in the USA, ferro-manganese prices continued to rise amid tight supply and healthy demand.

Spot prices for high-carbon ferro-manganese, in warehouse Pittsburgh, rose to a fresh 87-month high of $1,510-1,580 per long ton on August 3 from $1,490-1,560 in the previous week, according to Metal Bulletin sister publication AMM’s latest assessment.

Thin spot supply is the primary driver of a price run that has lasted seven weeks so far.

Multiple traders reported entering the market looking to cover up short supply positions, receiving elevated offers from large suppliers.

Consumers encountered the same difficulty securing material as did suppliers that are trying to cover.

“I was trying to cover a bit this week and all the offers I’m getting are at about $1,550,” a supplier source told AMM.

Contract demand from end-users remains very strong, suppliers added.

“The mills consuming high-carbon ferro-manganese are taking it in at such a high clip, it has been hard to keep up… supply,” a second supplier source said.

The strong contract off-take has suppliers expecting market activity to increase further in the weeks ahead.

“Given the rate at which our customers are taking in material, they are going to have to come back to us before too long to keep running,” a third supplier source said.

Meanwhile, inactivity in the silico-manganese market has kept prices flat.

Spot prices for silico-manganese, in warehouse Pittsburgh, held at 61-64 cents per lb on August 3, according to AMM’s latest assessment.

European manganese alloy prices held steady in relatively quiet trading.

Metal Bulletin’s price quotation for ferro-manganese, delivered in Europe, held at €1,200-1,260 per tonne for the fourth consecutive week.

Metal Bulletin’s price quotation for silico-manganese, delivered in Europe, held at €1,040-1,080 per tonne for the sixth week running.

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