China exported 378 tonnes of ferro-vanadium (basis 75% vanadium) in May, an increase of 9.8% from 344 tonnes in April, according to official but unconfirmed data seen by Fastmarkets.

However, Chinese market participants said they expected to see exports decline in June due to higher Chinese prices than those in Europe since May.

The average price of ferro-vanadium, 78% V min, fob China in May stood at around $40.80 per kg while the price of ferro-vanadium basis 78% V min, 1st grade ddp Western Europe averaged $36.85 per kg, Fastmarkets’ historical data showed.

Fastmarkets’ latest assessment for ferro-vanadium, 78% V min, fob China stood at $34.50-36.50 per kg on July 4 while Fastmarkets most recently assessed the price of ferro-vanadium basis 78% V min, 1st grade, ddp Western Europe at $31-32 per kg on July 5.

May’s export volumes were also down 48.3% from the 731 tonnes shipped overseas in the same period last year.

The average price for ferro-vanadium 78% V min, fob China in May came in at $40.8 per kg, in comparison to the average of $65.1 per kg last May, Fastmarkets’ historical data showed.

In the first five months of 2019, China exported 2,377 tonnes of ferro-vanadium, marking a fall of 16.3% from the 2,840 tonnes shipped over the same period last year.

Ferro-niobium imports remain large
Meanwhile, China imported approximately 4,547 tonnes of ferro-niobium in May, a decrease of 6.5% from the 4,862 tonnes imported in April.

The month-on-month dip in ferro-niobium imports in May was attributed by market participants to some Chinese mills reverting to the use of domestic vanadium products, including ferro-vanadium and vanadium nitrogen. Prices of the latter have been on the decline since March and there are expectations among some users that domestic vanadium prices could become cheaper than imported ferro-niobium prices in the near future.

“Chinese mills are quite price sensitive, especially as their profits margins have been greatly squeezed by rising iron ore prices, and when they discern that ferro-niobium has begun to lose its price advantage over vanadium products, they will gradually increase their use of the latter,” one market participant said.

However, other participants noted that the imports for ferro-niobium in May were still higher than expected and that has sparked widespread concerns that there will be no significant increase in demand for vanadium products in the near term.

Indeed, on a year-on-year basis, last month’s ferro-niobium import volume saw a rise of 32.3% from the 3,437 tonnes imported in May 2018.

In the January-May period, China’ imports of ferro-niobium totaled 22,619 tonnes, soaring by 80.5% from the 12,534 tonnes over the corresponding period of last year.

V2O5 exports in May drop sharply
On the upstream side, China exported about 260 tonnes of vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) in May, a drop of 40% compared with the 434 tonnes in April and a fall of 74.5% from the 1,022 tonnes in May 2018.

Subdued buying interest from abroad and suppliers’ unwillingness to sell outside of China due to higher domestic prices jointly contributed to the fall in exports of V2O5 in May, according to market sources.

The average price of 98% V2O5 min, fob China in May stood at $8.86 per lb while the price of 98% V2O5 min, in-whs Rotterdam averaged $7.97 per lb in the same month, according to Fastmarkets’ price archive.

Fastmarkets most recently assessed the export price of 98% V2O5 min, fob China at $7.90-8.00 per lb on July 4, while Fastmarkets’ latest assessment for 98% V2O5 min, in-whs Rotterdam sat at $6.50-7.95 per lb on July 5.

In the first five months of 2019, China exported a total of 2,381 tonnes of V2O5, a drop of 20.3% from the 2,986 tonnes over the same period last year.

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