GLOBAL MANGANESE WRAP: Ore prices keep rising on stock drawdown, steel sector strength

Manganese ore prices continued to firm on Friday September 15 as sentiment was boosted by a gradual drawdown in stocks in China and anticipation of further strengthening in the steel sector.

  • Ore prices continue upwards
  • Chinese silico-manganese prices track ore higher
  • Alloy prices keep rising in India and the USA
  • Alloy prices hold in Europe

Metal Bulletin’s 37% manganese ore index rose 2 cents to $5.11 per dmtu fob Port Elizabeth, a small rise after jumping a massive 49 cents the previous week.

Metal Bulletin’s 44% manganese ore index climbed 11 cents to to $6.43 per dmtu, cif Tianjin.

Manganese ore stocks at Chinese ports Tianjin and Qinzhou stood at around 2.6-2.8 million tonnes on September 6, according to Metal Bulletin’s latest survey.

While these figures have climbed since August, they represent a significant drawdown compared with levels of 3.2-3.3 million tonnes seen in April.

“There was a conference in China this week, and the big takeaway was the drop-off in stocks. It looks like there’s been a realisation that stocks have dropped very quickly,” one Western source told Metal Bulletin.

Still, Chinese buyers warned they are not convinced that rising manganese ore prices will be sustained into late-October and November.

“I’m not in a hurry to purchase cif cargoes. While downstream demand is strong, it does not necessarily mean that we can see the price support being sustained moving into the second half of October,” a buyer in China told Metal Bulletin.

Further downstream, Chinese silico-manganese prices jumped on the back of recent ore price strength and increased spot trading.

Silico-manganese (min 65% Mn max Si) prices in China’s spot market rose to 7,300-7,400 yuan ($1,114- 1,129) per tonne on September 15, up from 7,000 to 7,200 yuan previously.

Market participants said they are still bullish on silico-manganese demand from the steel sector, despite a recent drop in rebar prices.

Meanwhile, futures prices continued to fluctuate. The most traded January silico-manganese contract opened the week in positive territory, but fell sharply after peaking at 7,442 yuan per tonne on September 12.

Metal Bulletin’s price quotation for Chinese ferro-manganese (min 65% Mn max 7% C) held at 6,700-6,800 yuan per tonne on September 15 amid thin trading.

Elsewhere in Asia, Indian silico-manganese prices continued rising for the sixth consecutive week.

Metal Bulletin’s price quotation for silico-manganese, fob India rose to $1,170-1,250 per tonne, compared with $1,160-1,230 per tonne previously.

European manganese alloys markets were also stable, consolidating the previous week’s increases.

Suppliers held offer prices steady for high carbon ferro-manganese, while silico-manganese traded in a wider range.

Silico-manganese traded at €1,020-1,100 ($1,213-1,308) per tonne, with low phosphorous content (P 0.15%) at the higher end of the range and higher phosphorous content (P 0.25-0.30%) being offered towards the bottom end.

High-carbon ferro-manganese traded at €1,200-1,275 per tonne

In the USA, high-carbon ferrro-manganese held firm as suppliers continued to garner strong prices in the spot market.

Spot prices for high-carbon ferro-manganese, in-warehouse Pittsburgh held at $1,530-1,600 per long ton on September 14, unchanged from the previous week, according to Metal Bulletin sister publication AMM’s latest assessment.

Market participants noted a healthy level of spot market activity since the end of the northern summer.

“This market is still fairly firm. I’m selling pretty easily to foundry customers in the mid-$1,500s,” a supplier source told AMM.

Meanwhile, some traders have had success selling at the high end of the range for prompt spot shipments to mills or to other short traders.

“I needed a few truckloads this week and, after doing some shopping around, I couldn’t do much better than about $1,600,” a trader source told AMM.

Spot supplies remain tight and well controlled, despite elevated levels of imports over the first seven months of the year.

US imports of high-carbon ferro-manganese in the first seven months reached 102,296 tonnes, up 40.1% compared with the same period the previous year.
“Imports are up in comparison with last year, but the market is definitely not long on material. Just about everything that is coming in is already committed to long terms, and the mills are taking in material at a very strong rate,” a second supplier source told AMM.

Spot prices for silico-manganese, in warehouse Pittsburgh, edged down slightly to 60-63 cents per lb on September 14, down 1 cent on the low end, according to AMM’s latest assessment.

The spot market has been subdued lately, but market participants said they expect activity to pick up in the weeks ahead as mills prepare for the fourth quarter.