Supply Fears Drive EU Ferro-Vanadium Price Hikes

European ferro-vanadium prices have increased since the beginning of the year, and some market participants expect the trend to continue as sellers hike their offers in response to potential supply shortages in the first quarter.
Ferro-vanadium prices were assessed today at $34-35/kg duty paid Rotterdam, up by around 5.3pc since the start of the year when they stood at $32.50-33/kg. Vanadium pentoxide flake prices have also edged up this week to $8.35-9.00/lb, having previously held firm at $8-9/lb since 9 December.
The price hikes are in part a reaction to news of flooding in the Bahia region of Brazil, which has impacted vanadium production in the region since late December, a producer confirmed. Sellers raised their offers on the expectation that the flooding could tighten global supply in January-February, with some traders currently offering ferro-vanadium as high as $35.50/kg.
That said, many market participants had expected prices to increase in the first quarter even before the floods began. Shipping delays — which choked supply routes throughout 2021 — are set to continue this year, making it difficult to replenish European stocks efficiently, and the longstanding container shortage continues to hamper shipments from South America.
Furthermore, a seasonal uptick in end user demand is anticipated, after 2-3 weeks of sluggish activity over the Christmas holiday period. Ferro-vanadium prices often increase in the first month of the year amid increased demand and liquidity. In 2021, for example, January prices averaged $27.26/kg dp Rotterdam, up from an average of $25.21/kg in December 2020.
Ample supply could limit price increases
Some market participants expect only a modest price rise in the near-term, noting that so far the hikes have been mostly trader driven and that European supply remains sufficient despite the Brazil floods.
Few transactions have taken place yet this month as many end users are yet to raise enquiries or are well covered by bookings made in December. As such, while sellers are testing the market with more bullish offers, it remains to be seen which customers will actually accept a significantly higher level.
Only one producer has been badly impacted by the flooding in Brazil, and no force majeure has been declared, meaning they are still able to meet their contracted commitments, a trader said. And producers in Europe have ample material to meet demand from end users, market participants said.
Furthermore, Europe is moving in the opposite direction to Asia, where low buying interest and falling pentoxide prices are weighing on ferro-vanadium prices. Domestic Chinese prices for 50pc grade ferro-vanadium were last assessed at Yn123,000-125,000/t ($19,321-19,635/t) ex-works on 13 January, having fallen by around 5.2pc since prices first started trending downward on 15 December. As a result, some market participants in Europe believe the current uptrend could be short lived as higher prices are not supported by global trends.