The prices of vanadium in both Europe and the United States softened in the week ended Friday July 12 on continuously weakening demand, while prices in China stabilized amid thin spot trading activity.

  • Chinese ferro-vanadium market stalls amid low spot activity
  • European ferro-vanadium prices drop to less than $30 per kg, weak demand continues
  • V2O5 prices in China move up amid rising buying interest, tightening availability, but European market falls by 10% on aggressive offers
  • US prices edge down; buying interest slows.

The Chinese export price for ferro-vanadium stalled in the latest assessment on July 11, amid thin trading activity resulting both from seasonally low demand and from the Chinese price being more favorable than its European counterpart.

Fastmarkets’ assessment of the export price for ferro-vanadium, 78% V min, fob China, remained unchanged at $34.50-36.50 per kg.

Chinese ferro-vanadium exporters which received inquiries from abroad either refrained from offering or held their offer prices relatively firm, after noticing that the domestic price showed signs of strengthening in the past week.

“We received several inquiries from abroad, but have not made any offers yet because it is clear that buyers will not accept our preferred prices,” a Chinese ferro-vanadium exporter said on July 11. “And there is no way for us to lower our prices any further, given that the domestic price is much better and is even on the rise.”

The Chinese domestic ferro-vanadium price gained a degree of upward momentum on suppliers’ unwillingness to sell off cargoes amid a growing appetite to buy among both traders and mills.

Some Chinese traders and mills resumed their interest in restocking vanadium products, including ferro-vanadium and nitrated vanadium, with rumors circulating in the market that official inspections of rebar quality have been taking place in some areas of China recently.

“There has been no official news or announcement, but I heard that the inspections have begun and I have reason to believe it is true, because some mills that had never procured vanadium products before have placed orders for some volumes recently,” a Chinese market participant said.

On the upstream side, after having softened for two consecutive weeks, China’s export price for vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) managed to tick upward last week, due to Chinese V2O5 exporters raising their offer prices with increased buying interest in both the domestic and overseas markets.

Fastmarkets assessed the export price of vanadium pentoxide, 98% V2O5 min, fob China, at $8.00-8.10 per lb on July 11, up from $7.90-8.00 per lb in the preceding week.

“There are some inquiries for V2O5 but we have held back from offering due to a lack of available cargoes on hand,” a Chinese V2O5 exporter said. “And it’s really hard to source V2O5 in the domestic market now.”

The Chinese domestic V2O5 price rose thanks to a growing buying appetite among both traders and alloy plants.

“The situation is totally different. Weeks ago, we had to call around to sell our cargoes but now we receive many inquiries every day,” a Chinese V2O5 producer said. “But there is no need to sell in a hurry, so we prefer to take a wait-and-see stance.”

Some alloy plants were heard to have become willing to restock V2O5 due to good demand from the downstream sectors, while V2O5 suppliers became less willing to offload cargoes in expectation of further price rises, thus creating a perception of supply tightness, market sources said.

European FeV, V2O5 fall again
Meanwhile, European ferro-vanadium prices fell below the $30 per kg mark, under pressure from continuously weakening demand and bearish sentiment. The market continued to trade at its lowest price since June 2017.

Fastmarkets assessed the price of ferro-vanadium, basis 78% V min, 1st grade, ddp Western Europe, at $29.00-31.50 per kg on July 12. This was down by 4% from the midweek assessment of $31-32 per kg, when prices were unchanged from the previous Friday.

“While prices in China are moving up and it’s hard to find cheap sources there, [the price in] Europe continues to move lower,” a producer said.

“It’s only Europe that is extremely depressed. China and the US are holding up better,” the producer added.

“It’s getting close to the point where it will be more profitable to sell into China again,” a second producer said.

The European V2O5 market also fell last week, to its lowest since June 2017. Cheaper offers from suppliers continued to push the price down, market sources said. Spot business last week was concluded at the lower end of the range.

The price of vanadium pentoxide, 98% V2O5 min, in-whs Rotterdam, was $6.20-6.70 per lb on July 12.

“People are getting rid of their material and it is easy to find cheap units,” a trader in Europe said.

US market slows down
The US ferro-vanadium market also edged down last week amid low levels of spot activity.

US spot prices for ferro-vanadium, 70-80% V, in-whs Pittsburgh, moved down to $16.50-17.00 per lb on July 11 from $17.50-18.00 per lb the previous week.

“I’m hearing lower pricing in the US. I wouldn’t be surprised if $16 [per lb] was the market [price] by [next] weekend,” a trader in the US said.

“In Europe,” he added, “we are getting offers around $30 per kg consistently now. It seems there is pressure to sell. [The price in] China seems to be firm and ticking upward, in contrast to external markets.”

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