UG2/MG chrome ore prices tick up as buying interest boosts confidence

UG2/MG chrome ore prices rose slightly in the week to Tuesday January 16, with transactions reported at higher levels, marking the end of a relatively prolonged period of stability.

Fastmarkets’ weekly calculation of its chrome ore South Africa UG2/MG concentrates index, cif China was $283 per tonne on Tuesday, up from $281 per tonne on January 9. The index had held at $281 since December 19, 2023.

The index had seen pockets of stability throughout 2023, including the most recent period, which lasted from December 19 up to January 9 this year, although much of last year was characterized by volatility, with the market buffeted by issues such as fluctuations in the value of the yuan against the dollar, and ongoing supply tightness.

During the most recent week, a rise in inquiries from smelters boosted confidence among chrome ore suppliers, a sell-side source said on Tuesday.

“Demand is increasing, while supplies remain unchanged,” the sell-side source said. “It’s quite a simple condition for a price uptick.”

City, Landscape, Nature

Fastmarkets’ weekly assessment of the combined chrome ore inventories at the main ports of Tianjin, Qinzhou, Lianyungang and Shanghai was 2.54 million-2.85 million tonnes on Monday, up only marginally compared with stock levels the week before.

Furthermore, new arrivals of chrome ore at Chinese ports were mainly already under contract with smelters, with ongoing limited commercial availability, providing fundamental support to the seaborne market, according to the source.

A second sell-side source noted that prices were still within recent ranges, with little sign of a particular move to the downside.

“[I think] the market is stable, with strong demand, and there doesn’t seem to be a reason for prices to move from the current range,” the second sell-side source said.

Prices for Turkish lumpy chrome ore also began to climb during the week, with reports of rising offers, while the ongoing tensions in the Red Sea and ensuing supply chain disruptions began to have an effect, although persistently low liquidity capped the upward move.

“Our supplier has informed us that one of our latest vessels of Turkish ore may have to be postponed,” a buy-side source said.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for chrome ore Turkish lumpy 40-42%, cfr main Chinese ports edged up to $310-335 per tonne on Tuesday, from $305-330 per tonne on January 9. The price had held at $305-330 per tonne since December 27, 2023.

Ferro-chrome prices diverge in seaborne and domestic markets

Prices of ferro-chrome in the domestic Chinese spot market remained unchanged during the week to Tuesday, while the imported charge chrome price ticked downward.

Chinese ferro-chrome smelters reportedly kept their price levels stable during the week, while they awaited the announcement of the next monthly tender price from major stainless steel mill Tsingshan.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for ferro-chrome spot 6-8% C, basis 50% Cr, ddp China was 8,800-9,000 yuan ($1,234-1,262) per tonne on Tuesday, where it has remained since December 19, 2023.

“With [the previous] tender price of 8,495 yuan per tonne, big smelters in Inner Mongolia can still make a profit,” a southern smelter source said. “In addition, the new capacity in the north has gradually started up.”

The strength of production activity in the north of China has contributed to high supplies of ferro-chrome in the domestic market, meaning sellers of imported charge chrome face greater competition, the southern smelter source suggested.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for ferro-chrome 50% Cr import, cif main Chinese ports ticked down to $0.95 per lb contained Cr on Tuesday, from $0.96 per lb contained Cr the week before.

Don’t miss the chance to grow your network and connect with Asia’s most influential decision-makers from across the ferroalloys supply chain, at Fastmarkets Ferroalloys Asian Conference 2024, in Hong Kong, February 26-28.

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