June volume’s also marks an increase of 35.9% from the 3,931 tonnes imported in the same month of 2019.
The higher imports in June was partly due to suppliers being more willing to ship their cargoes to China, where demand for alloy products has been much more stable and promising than in other parts of the world where industrial activity is still constrained by measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, market participants said.
A ferro-niobium trader told Fastmarkets that they have been shipping cargoes that should have been consumed in the European market to China since late last year due to generally better demand outlook in the Asian nation.
“Though ferro-niobium has lost its price competitiveness against [domestic] vanadium alloys at the moment, there are still some mills that need to use the material and therefore we could always find buyers,” the trader said.
Ferro-niobium was heavily favored by many Chinese consumers in the first half of 2019 due to it being much cheaper than vanadium alloys. This partly contributed to China’s imports of ferro-niobium reaching an all-time high last year of 46,687 tonnes, an increase of 30% from 35,909 tonnes in 2018.
China imported a total of approximately 16,842 tonnes of ferro-niobium in the first half of 2020, down by about 36.6% from around 26,550 tonnes over the corresponding period of 2019, customs data showed.
Fastmarkets does not currently assess prices for ferro-niobium. The proposed launch
of a weekly price assessment for ferro-niobium, on a delivered consumer works basis in Europe was postponed
since liquidity in the spot market has thinned substantially because of weakening demand and global uncertainty amid the global Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.