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Asia ferrochrome: Chinese output cuts, strong demand push prices higher

Tokyo — Tightening supplies of high-carbon ferrochrome in south China, as well as high run rates at Chinese stainless steel plants have pushed up spot import prices, market sources said Friday.

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Ferrochrome output in Sichuan and Guizhou provinces has stayed low after the Lunar New Year holidays due to higher costs of power and chromite feedstock, sources said.

The decrease in ferrochrome production, rather than causing chromite feedstock prices to fall, gave support to ferrochrome import prices, sources said.

Producers in northeast China were not ramping up output to cover for the output cuts, and major Chinese stainless steelmakers who were maintaining high run rates, were forced to turn to ferrochrome imports.

Several Chinese stainless steelmakers with over 1 million mt/year capacities were seeking spot imports of several thousand tons for March-May loading, from India, the Middle East and South Africa, buyer and seller sources said.

S&P Global Platts assessed the spot price of 58-60% high-carbon ferrochrome at $1.09-$1.11/lb CIF China Friday, up from $1.07-$1.09/lb CIF China a week ago.

Three deals were reported at $1.10/lb CIF China for over 10,000 mt in total of 10-150 mm lumps of minimum 58% chrome, 3-4% silicon, 8-9% carbon, 0.03-0.04% phosphorous and 0.05% sulfur material for March-April loading.

Chinese buyers have bid $1.04-$1.07/lb CIF China, while the highest offer was at $1.11/lb CIF China, sources said.

Although two Indian producers have sold out their March production, producers said the market appeared to have enough supply and price rise was moderate this week.

One producer said his production cost was $1.10/lb CIF but he was open to sales at below $1.10/lb CIF China to a few customers.

One Chinese steelmaker, however, has booked for May at $1.10-$1.15/lb CIF China, as the mill had supply concerns, a Chinese buyer said.

48-52% charge chrome was assessed at $1.10-$1.16/lb CIF China Friday, up from $1.10-$1.15/lb CIF a week ago.

Offer was at $1.16/lb CIF, said the Chinese buyer.

A western trader said there were no deals this week for South African material as buyers and sellers remained apart.

Japanese spot import price rose to $1.12-$1.13/lb CIF Japan, from $1.10-$1.20/lb CIF Japan a week ago.

Inquiries this week were for a few container loads, said Japanese traders.

Offers from India were in the range of $1.12-$1.20/lb CIF Japan, traders added.

--Mayumi Watanabe,
--Edited by Irene Tang,