• Manganese ore indices up on strong trading activity
• Silico-manganese futures prices supported by physical
• US ferro-manganese prices at 86-month high
• Traditional summer slowdown bites in Europe
Manganese ore prices gained slightly last week, buoyed by a
pick-up in traded volumes and strong sentiment from the steel
Metal Bulletin’s 37% manganese
climbed to $4.10 per dmtu fob Port Elizabeth on
Friday July 14 from $4.06 a week earlier. The 44% index
reached $6.02 per dmtu cif
Tianjin, up from $5.85.
The market remained divided on price direction, with some
highlighting a potential reduction in demand from India, while
others noted that strong steel expectations in China have
Spot traded volumes surged last week, even as talk of a large
stock build-up in China spread.
This week, Metal Bulletin assessed port inventory of the
ores in major Chinese ports of Tianjin and Qinzhou
2.6-3 million tonnes, down from 2.8-3.1 million tonnes two
weeks ago. But some sources outside China believed that volumes
elsewhere in China have grown recently. Metal Bulletin does not
assess these regions at present.
Inventory of high-grade ore was reported much lower when
compared with semi-carbonate ores, sources said in China.
The high-grade premium has widened recently as stocks of 37%
material have grown due to a surge in exports from South
However, sources outside China argued that the wide gap is
likely to be temporary, as some traditional higher-grade
buyers, in a position to use either grade in their processes,
have been looking for 37% units because of the price
"There’s been a sudden upswing in the market.
There’s huge demand from China over the last four
or five days," one source active on 37% said.
However, the surge in demand comes at a time when many others
had been expecting a price dip. Before the recent price rises,
several sources had been on the sidelines awaiting clear market
direction, after several weeks of limited price moves.
Supply-side sources had expressed concern about a potential
reduction in demand from India, where large volumes have headed
in the first half of the year. Several sources said Indian
buyers had stocked up on ore, and purchases could now be
limited as a result.
"The market is almost in limbo – people are waiting
for clear direction. People are comfortable with the $4.50
price range on low-grade and I’m seeing consumer
demand. Everyone can make money at that level. This stability
will change from mid-August; India has been taking the volumes
but has stopped now and Chinese stocks will go up," a second
market source told Metal Bulletin.
But while some expect a weakening in prices, in China, the
mood, reflecting price developments captured by Metal Bulletin,
was strong. Sources said that port manganese ore prices
continued to move up last week as market sentiment remained
strong regarding the near-term outlook on the current good
demand from the steel market.
Port offers from traders on high-grade ores like Australian
lump were at 54-55 yuan per dmtu fot Tianjin ($6.6-6.70), up
2-3 yuan a week earlier, while South African semi-carbonate
lump prices concentrated in the range of 40-42 yuan per dmtu
($4.8-5.0), up 3-4 yuan when compared with the beginning of
last week, according to sources in China.
On the alloy markets, Metal Bulletin assessed silico-manganese
prices in the Chinese spot market
at 6,500-6,600 yuan
($959-974) per tonne on Friday, having narrowed slightly
upwards from 6,400-6,600 yuan a week earlier. Chinese ferro-manganese prices
flat at 6,100-6,300 yuan per tonne on the week.
Sources said that continued strength will still depend on the
A major trader said that South Africa had sold a lot of cargoes
in June and July to China.
Given the support from the physical market, silico-manganese
futures prices also kept firm this week and reached a new high
on Tuesday of 6,664 yuan per tonne, the highest level since
June 1. The contact finished the week at 6,590 yuan per tonne
on Friday, up from last Friday’s close price of
Alloys held firm elsewhere too.
The US high-carbon ferro-manganese market exhibited strength
once again last week, as sellers had little issue in finding
willing buyers despite continuously elevating offering
US spot prices for high-carbon
swelled to an 86-month high, reaching
$1,480-1,540 per long ton on July 13, up 1% from $1,470-1,520
per long ton, according to Metal Bulletin sister publication
AMM’s latest assessment.
The upward price move marks the fourth consecutive weekly
increase within the high-carbon ferro-manganese market, with
prices now up 2.7% from $1,440-1,500 on June 15, while spot
prices were last at current levels in May 2010.
Despite the arrival of the typically sluggish summer period,
spot prices have yet to suffer any downturn, instead thriving
through a time typically characterised by weaker prices.
A tight market remains the impetus behind the bolstered price
level, as prospective spot market buyers have had few
"If you have to go out and find high-carbon ferro-manganese in
the spot market, you are going to have to pay dearly for it," a
supplier source said to AMM.
"There simply is not much availability, and those that actually
have stock have been able to get their prices," he added.
Availability of material with a low phosphorous content has
been particularly thin, sources said.
"Low phosphorous material is so hard to find right now that
anyone who has it can essentially just name their price," a
second supplier told AMM.
Despite expectations that prices would undergo a downward
correction after ore prices fell off from their highs at the
start of the year, alloy prices have remained resilient,
particularly within the USA.
Market participants suggested that prices would continue to
avoid any backslide in the near term, bucking consistent
"There has been discussion about lower numbers on a forward
basis, but that is all talk at this point," a third supplier
source said. "Frankly, we’ve been hearing that for
much of the year, yet prices have become even stronger."
"No one has had the guts to take a chance otherwise, so those
lower forward numbers will continue to be 'what
ifs’," he added.
Meanwhile, US silico-manganese prices
held flat at
62-65 cents on July 13, unchanged from the previous week,
according to AMM.
Indian silico-manganese prices (65%)
found strength, reaching $1,080-1,130 per tonne fob, from
$1,060-1,110 on good domestic demand.
In Europe, in contrast, silico-manganese and ferro-manganese
prices were stable on a traditional summer slowdown. Silico-manganese prices
€1,040-1,080 ($1,193-1,239) per tonne, while ferro-manganese price
"Volumes are lower. There was a low-priced tender in Europe. I
haven’t heard any large deals in Europe," one