Trading activity in the European ferroalloy market remains slow

Trading activity in the European high carbon ferrochrome (HC FeCr) market remained slow last week, according to Metalshub Intelligence Service (Metis), as the market put pressure on prices. Buyers are often negotiating discounts, although first-mover offers remain relatively stable. Metis estimated HC FeCr in the range of $1.4-1.75 per pound of Cr. Deals at lower levels are extremely rare. Offers from India fell to $1.2-1.26/lb Cr CIF Rotterdam.

Demand in the European ferrosilicon market remained low, with few buyer inquiries, as the market was affected by excess inventories. Metis estimated the current spot prices for FeSi in Europe last week at €1.4-1.5 thousand/tonne DDP. Import offers remained generally uncompetitive compared to domestic prices.

South African producer Merafe Resources reported earlier this week that the European benchmark price for ferrochrome for the second quarter of 2024 was set at $1.52 per pound, up 5.6% from the previous quarter. The increase is likely due to a supply shortage due to production cuts, which were affected by problems with the electricity market in South Africa. According to S&P Global, although this is a European benchmark, stainless steel mills in the US also use it in their long-term chrome supply contracts at a stipulated discount to the benchmark, according to market participants. Merafe owns a 20.5% stake in Glencore-Merafe Chrome Venture, the world’s largest ferrochrome producer, with Glencore holding the remaining 79.5%.

Chinese domestic ferrochrome prices, according to S&P Global, remained stable this week (as of March 27) at 8.8 thousand yuan ($1,222), equivalent to about 97 cents per pound CIF Asia. Imported ferrochrome was quoted at 97-99 cents per pound CIF China amid limited spot activity. At the same time, demand for stainless steel in the country remained low.

SMM predicted that the price of high-carbon ferrochrome in China would fluctuate in March as stainless steel production in the country would increase, and a slight supply shortage could arise based on expectations of ferrochrome production. In January-February 2024, the production of ferroalloys in the country, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, decreased by about 4% y/y – to 5.67 million tons.

Domestic prices for ferrochrome in India in the middle of this week stabilized at 115 thousand rupees per tonne ($1380/t, about 110 cents per pound FOB). Local consumers are buying less of these products, as demand for stainless steel in the country is also weak.

As GMK Center reported earlier, Ukraine’s ferroalloy producers have been exporting record low volumes for the second month in a row. In February, according to the State Customs Service, 0.3 thousand tons of ferroalloys were shipped abroad, up 29.8% month-on-month and 99.3% less than in February 2023.