Date: Nov 12, 2018

As the ferro-alloys community prepares to gather in Lisbon for a busy few days of meetings and contract negotiations, Fastmarkets outlines some of the key topics likely to dominate discussions at this year’s International Ferro-alloys Conference, on November 11-13.

Is the ferro-vanadium mating season nearing completion?
What promises to be a busy few days in Lisbon for purveyors of ferro-alloys may end up uneventful for ferro-vanadium suppliers because many of the larger long-term contract negotiations have been already been settled.Supply concerns fueled speedy negotiations, with consumers eager to secure volumes for the upcoming year in what is expected to a strong year for vanadium consumption, with little supply increase expected.

Several major suppliers were either completely booked or nearly sold out of their allotted contract volumes for 2019. The pressure on consumers to secure requirements early was also believed to have allowed for lower discount levels overall.

Vanadium market in a frenzy
Although many of the long-term contract negotiations have been settled already, vanadium still promises to be a hot topic. The material has caught the attention of even the most casual observer, with its meteoric rise over the past year.

European ferro-vanadium and vanadium pentoxide prices have risen nearly three-fold since ending 2017 at $43.25-45.00 per kg and $9.60-9.90 per lb respectively.

Market participants have kept an eager eye on each upward move, with ferro-vanadium prices currently at a more than 13-year peak, while vanadium pentoxide prices were at the highest point ever recorded by Fastmarkets, with data going back to the start of 1997.

Market participants will be eagerly seeking answers to the question on everyone’s mind: “How long are these prices sustainable?”

While global supply tightness has fueled the price surge, which is not expected to abate in the medium term, market participants were wary about the inevitable price fall, which most expect to be quite steep. What will ultimately shake up the market, and when, is anyone’s guess.

Is moly’s next move up or down?
In a market prone to price swings, rallies and trader profit-taking, molybdenum prices proved to be relatively stable in October. Ferro-molybdenum traded in a range of $28.60-29.40 per kg and molybdic oxide at $11.80-12.20 per lb, both in-warehouse Rotterdam, across October, according to Fastmarkets data.

On one hand, the limited consumer appetite for ferro-molybdenum in Europe, and the availability of units from Asia and of scrap as an alternative, have the potential to push prices down – and this tone has dominated so far in November.

But on the other hand, environmental inspections in key molybdenum-producing regions have the potential to limit the availability of material.

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