ASIAN FERRO-ALLOYS CONF: Six likely key talking points at industry gathering in Hong Kong


Date: Mar 7, 2019

Fastmarkets summarizes six hot topics that will likely dominate discussions during the 20th Asian Ferro-alloys Conference in Hong Kong on March 10-12.What might weigh on the minor metals markets in 2019? 
This year’s conference kicks off on Sunday March 10 with a minor metals briefing day, and no doubt participants in those respective markets will be eager to discuss whether stocks of metals such as indium, bismuth and antimony on the discredited Fanya Metal Exchange will eventually flow into the Chinese spot market this year.

The failed exchange’s warehouses hold stocks that are equivalent to around two years’ worth of Chinese bismuth supply and two months of Chinese antimony output. The warehouses also hold significant amounts of other minor metals stocks.

Despite failing to attract any bidders, an auction for 34.64 tonnes of Fanya’s indium stocks in January this year roiled an already sensitive market. Bearish sentiment has since seeped into other minor metals markets. 

At the same time however, the perceived threat that a fresh round of environmental inspections across China later this year could interrupt the operations of domestic minor metals producers, thereby restricting output and potentially supporting prices, is another major talking point for minor metals participants at this year’s event.

Will vanadium prices return to their 2018 highs?
Vanadium prices in the Chinese and European markets both hit all-time highs last year, in part due to an expected increase in demand stemming from the implementation of new rebar standards in China, which came into effect on November 1, 2018.

The revised policy calls for domestic steelmakers to produce rebar with a set tensile strength, which can be achieved by adding ferro-alloys including ferro-vanadium. 

But Chinese vanadium prices began to drop sharply late in 2018 when market participants realized that the enforcement of the revised rebar policy was not as stringent as had been expected. Prices stabilized at the start of 2019 and even started showing signs of strengthening in recent weeks due to renewed buying interest from domestic mills. 

Fastmarkets’ assessment of the export price for ferro-vanadium, min 78%, fob China, hit an all-time high of $130-140 per kg on October 18 last year, up by 176% from $48-50 per kg on January 4. The price was most recently assessed at $74-76 per kg on February 28.

The price assessment for ferro-vanadium, 78%, free delivered duty paid, in Europe, reached an all-time high of $126-128 per kg on November 16, 2018, up by 165% from $46.50-49.50 per kg at the start of that year. The price was most recently assessed at $75-76 per kg on March 6.

Many market participants will be keen to find out whether vanadium prices might return to last year’s highs given that nationwide inspections on rebar quality are expected to take place this year, though no official guidance has been released as to when these inspections might take place. 

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