The decline in natural graphite prices - seen in May for the
first time in three years - has continued in Europe and North
America, although Indian levels appear to have stabilised,
market sources told IM in August.
Natural flake graphite demand
has slowed down, with the biggest brake coming from the Chinese
refractory industry, a North American source said.
The downturn in the global steel
industry has been felt by manufacturers of other types of
graphite products, such as graphite electrodes and cathodes, in
regions as far apart as Germany, the US and Japan, the source
Market sources in Europe agreed.
Prices have now slipped further since the May falls, one source
told IM, attributing this to low consumption
in the continent and falling demand from the Asian battery
Flake graphite (94-97% C, +80 mesh,
FCL, CIF Europe port) prices were seen at down to
$1,400-1,800/tonne from IMs current
range of $1,800-2,200/tonne, the source said.
Lower-grade material has also
fallen, but less steeply. Both 90% C and 94-97% C (-100 mesh,
FCL, CIF, Europe port) flake graphite grades fell by $100/tonne
to $1,000-1,300 from $1,100-1,400/tonne, and $1,100-1,400/tonne
from $1,200-1,500/tonne respectively, the source said.
Synthetic graphite prices were
$5-7/kg compared to Swiss border terms of $7-20/kg,
the source added. Prices on the IM database
however remain unchanged as not all sources corroborated with
the lower prices at the time of going to press.
Indian prices stabilising
Prices for all grades in India have been steady since June,
with demand for graphite material remaining stable, local
Declining exports had triggered
uncertainty over the security of graphite supplies to India
from China, which has supported internal demand for local
material, Indian market participants said.
China remains an unreliable,
emergency source for many companies in India, one source
told IM, adding that this had helped to level
out the downward trend in prices which began in May.
Fluorspar prices were steady despite weak demand from China and
elsewhere, market sources told IM.
Chinese sources indicated that
prices were leaning towards the upper end of
IMs current ranges.
However, this trend was not
observed outside China, industry observers said.
Both European and North American
sources said that they could not confirm any upward movement of
prices for either acid grade (acidspar) or metallurgical grade
The overall market sentiment
is quite the opposite, one market participant said.
Demand in both China and elsewhere is pretty weak.
Therefore I dont see any price increase.
Another source said that it had
seen prices within IMs current ranges
for acidspar, while a European-focused source said that prices
for European fluorspar were stable despite challenging economic
Mined Chinese production for the
first six months of 2012 is down 7.5% on the corresponding
period last year to 4.2m tonnes, data released in August
This could account for higher
domestic prices of the material within China, market sources
suggested, but some remained doubtful that the elevated prices
Prices for iodine remained strong throughout the second quarter
of 2012, with some producers seeing a slight rise in contract
values in recent weeks, market sources said.
One source said that it had
recently seen prices for iodine crystal, 99.5% min, drums,
increase to $65-68/kg from IMs current
range of $63-65/kg, although a second source said that prices
had remained stable.
Spot prices for iodine crystal,
99.5% min, drums remain unchanged at $60-90/kg, according to
Prices are expected to remain
strong into the second half of the year, said Sirocco Mining
Inc., which has significant iodine interests in Chile.
This statement followed on from
Chiles SQM reporting a 35%-increase in profits for the
second quarter of the year, driven partly by a 10%-climb in
With expansion predicted in each of
these key markets to 2014, plus an increase in demand driven by
optical polarising film (OPF) technology, the outlook for
iodine is one of solid growth.
Titanium dioxide (TiO2) producer, Kronos Worldwide
Inc., will increase prices by $200/tonne for all customers
excluding North America and Europe, effective 1 September
These increases will be for
customers in Asia and Asia Pacific, Latin America, Middle East
The recent increases in
raw-material costs necessitate further price increases in order
to reach and sustain TiO2 margins that allow for
reinvestment, the company said.
Rutile, ilmenite, and titanium slag
are some of the raw materials used to produce TiO2
pigment. These markets have suffered a supply and demand
disbalance, which has led prices to increase.
Companies bearing the brunt of
these raw-material costs initially passed them on to paint
producers - the largest end-market for TiO2 - in the
form of price rises throughout 2011. These were possible
because paint producers cannot easily use an alternative.
However, paint producers have now
been substituting TiO2 for other chemical substances which has
led to falling demand for the pigment.
This means that when pigment
producers push pigment prices up, paint companies could well
further reduce their consumption of TiO2, reducing
demand for the pigment overall (see p33).
Previous price increases have not
been received well, which could see TiO2 pigment
producers struggle to make the paint industry accept further
We do not believe that the
price increase announced by the industry effective in July was
very successful. So it appears that TiO2 pricing has
stabilised. We do not believe that theyre tracking
down, Christopher Connor, CEO of leading paint company
I will say that the
nomination that the TiO2 suppliers put forward for
July did not stick in any geography, Gary Hendrickson,
CEO of paint producer Valspar, told analysts.
The global soda ash market could weaken due to a bearish demand
outlook, Tata Chemicals said in August.
While demand for soda ash was
stable in the first quarter, the demand environment could
weaken, the company, Indias largest soda ash
producer and global number two, said in its financial year Q1
Going forward, we see the
demand for soda ash and other industrial chemicals weakening
due to the global slowdown, Rukundan, Tata Chemicals
managing director, said.
Growth persists in India, however,
with Tata saying that local demand will increase by between
5%-7% in the next quarter.
But other sources in India remain
divided as to whether or not prices will increase, or continue
While some producers are citing
heightened demand from the glass sector, buyers in India and
China are saying that price levels have actually dipped.
Asian prices have slipped from the
Q2 level of $220-240/tonne (FOB China, dense and light)
reported last month by IM, sources
Indian producers were struggling to
keep up with demand, said Capital Market, citing Tata
Chemicals and domestic producers Nirma and GHCL.
This would represent a
quarter-on-quarter turnaround for Nirma and GHCL, which both
reported that production and demand in each of their chemical
divisions in Q1 2012 was significantly lower than 2011
However, the level reported in June
was still in line with market conditions, market sources told