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China's 2021 silicon exports seen up 23% on year, Q1 2022 demand to rise: agency

China's silicon metal exports in 2021 are expected to rise 23% on the year, while domestic demand is also set to increase in the first quarter of 2022, state-run metal consultancy Antaike said Nov. 29.

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High silicon prices in domestic markets led to expensive shipment contracts, resulting in China's silicon exports in October dropping 29% on the month, to 51,100 mt, Antaike's data showed.

Despite a sharp dip in October, China's January-October exports still registered a 34% surge on the year, reaching 656,000 mt.

Silicon demand in China is likely to rise next year amid expectations of commissioning new polysilicon output capacity in Q1 2022, Antaike said.

The run rate of domestic polysilicon sector has remained high in November, with December output seen edging up. The polysilicon sector is a key silicon consumer.

In the organic silicon sector, another key silicon consumer, market players are mainly consuming silicon stocks, as they remain in a wait-and-watch mode amid a low run rate in the organic silicon sector, the agency said.

In the aluminum alloy sector, also a key silicon consumer, declining aluminum ingot prices that have now reached below Yuan 20,000/mt ($3,134/mt), have propped up aluminum alloy industry run rates, Antaike said.

Steady demand from the polysilicon and aluminum alloy sectors is expected to support silicon prices in the near term, sources said.

Tianjin port Chinese cash delivery oxygen 553 silicon prices were at Yuan 26,000-28,000/mt ($4,072-4,386/mt) in the week ended Nov. 26, stable from the third week, Antaike data showed.

The decline in domestic silicon prices is likely to halt ahead of the upcoming traditionally dry season in December, according to Antaike.

Silicon production in China relies on hydro power, which sees more production during the rainy season.

In the week through Nov. 5, prices were higher at Yuan 41,000-51,000/mt, the data showed.

The agency attributed the recent fall in prices to some cash-strapped smelters trimming prices to boost sales for funds.

Meanwhile, due to anticipated tight silicon supply in China ahead of the dry season, and the upcoming new output capacity release in the domestic organic and polysilicon sectors, Antaike said it sees market fundamentals to improve soon.

In Xinjiang region, China's biggest silicon hub, power supply is tight currently, which has capped smelters' run rate, according to commodity information services company Zhejiang Netsun.

Lack of rains in other silicon hubs such as Yunnan and Sichuan in winter could also cap run rates there, weighing on output outlook, Zhejiang Netsun said.