Chinese paint-grade barytes prices are reportedly rising to a
range of $300-320/tonne, market sources told
A previously reported price range
of $235-290/tonne (lump, CIF Gulf Coast-basis) is becoming
increasingly unworkable, suppliers in China said, a
view supported by Europe-based importers.
China accounts for around 52% of
global barytes production followed by India, the US, Morocco
and Mexico, according to the Barytes Association. With the
monsoon season approaching in India, a supply disruption is
expected and this is being widely factored in to some Chinese
Supply disruption in a key
competing market is likely to make short-term price stability
difficult to achieve. For Chinese exporters of high-grade
barytes, this is a window of opportunity. With no decrease in
demand, the market should expect price increases to
continue, one source told IM.
This could be further fuelled by
domestic taxes and tariffs in China. Apart from paint-grade
barytes, the mineral is mainly used in the composition of
high-density drilling mud for oil and gas exploration.
Paint-grade barytes are high
grade meant for premium-end industry usage in paints and
plastics. As such, they remain niche. Their price movement is
much more sensitive to supply- demand permutations, a
second market source said.
Barytes for drilling
Most market sources seem to agree that crude barytes prices out
of China were in the $146-$158/tonne range reported by
IM last month. Meanwhile, the Indian
crude-barytes price, ground, FOB Chennai-basis, is at the
$160-170/tonne range, according to sources.
Indian state-owned minerals
exporter Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC)
recently issued a new 36,000m tpa tender for barytes
The company, which will deliver the
material from its Mangampet barytes project in southern India,
said the powder will hold specific gravity of 4.20, and be sold
on an ex-plant basis. The tender will run for two years.
India is the second-largest
producer of barytes and price estimates range between
$160-170/1.5 tonne (API, ground, FOB Madras).
Severe rains this May in southern
China, where a large proportion of its barytes output is
produced, could lead to a future tightening up of supply, a
third source said.
IM received contrasting reports on graphite pricing in
July. While differing figures make it difficult to accurately
gauge trends, the general feeling is that the market for all
grades is softening.
North American and European sources
agreed that prices for graphite had generally fallen, but added
that the supply-demand balance was better for large (+50 mesh)
flake graphite because Inner Mongolia, traditionally a major
source of the material, was only producing small amounts of
graphite after two full years of zero production.
A South American source said that
average prices were broadly similar to those quoted on
IMs pricing database for June, and there
was no concerned about any imminent price drop.
There was some price fluctuation
quoted in euros owing to continuing uncertainty over the
currency, but local South American prices were stable, the
An African graphite buyer said that
the prices it had been paying had been the same level since
News that China may begin to stockpile dysprosium and terbium
(see page 11) led to some speculation that the two
elements may experience a price uptick.
However, not everyone was convinced
in the longevity of the perceived bull run.
Following the news, the domestic
price of dysprosium gained $313,500/tonne (Rmb 2m/tonne)
week-on-week. Meanwhile, europium prices rose by $783,720/tonne
over the week to $1.10m/tonne.
Low downstream demand, meanwhile,
has affected the cerium market, as polishing powder producers
face a production halt.
Companies which process cerium for
use in polishing applications are reporting that they are
working at less than 50% of capacity as supply outstrips
However, oxide exports in May more
than tripled month-on-month. Data also suggests that
year-on-year exports are up 19%, to 6,000kg.
In November last year producers
told IM that they would look into alternative
polishers as cerium prices rocketed. This, producers said,
would be almost impossible to reverse.
The amount of lanthanum shipped
from China in May almost doubled month-on-month to 46,102kg,
but was still down 89% year-on-year.
It is estimated that exports in all
rare earths in June will fall back dramatically.
US pigment manufacturer, Rockwood Color Pigments and Services,
has announced a global price increase on all synthetic iron
oxide pigment products.
The increase is effective from 1
August 2012, and Rockwood customers will be contacted
individually by their sales organisation, the company said.
Prices of iron oxide pigments (red
type 130 90% Fe2O3, bagged, FOB China)
currently stand at between $1,431-1,637/tonne.
US soda ash producer FMC Wyoming Corp. has also upped prices,
saying in July that it would be increasing off-list soda ash
prices by $10/s.ton as of 1 August.
The price increase was
necessary to recover cost increases and to support
investment in the business, FMC Wyoming said and will be
applied to all grades.
FMC Wyoming, a subsidiary of FMC
Corp., underlined that its current energy surcharge and freight
policies for soda ash will remain in effect. The energy
surcharge base cost will remain $7/mmBTU.
Bulk soda ash list prices (FOB
Westvaco or Granger, Wyoming, railcar and hopper truck) will
remain at $275/tonne for dense; $280/tonne for Grade
100TM; and $290/tonne AbsorptaPlusTM.
Packaged soda ash list prices will
remain at the current level of $340/tonne (FOB Westvaco,
Wyoming) for 50 lb and $330/tonne for 2,000 lb packages.