While rare earths, zircon and TiO2 feedstocks
slipped in September, antimony trioxide prices showed some
After suffering a downfall for the last few months, in
September antimony trioxide and ingot prices rose, with market
sources predicting positive market trends for the third quarter
Prices are up, and the
forecast for Q3 is hot, a Chinese source told
Service said that recent volatility in the antimony market
was likely to continue as prices rise.
According to a Roskill report,
the price increases seen since 2010 are linked to growing
consumption growth from the flame retardants and battery
markets, which caused prices to peak in 2011.
The Global Industry Markets and
Outlook (11th Edition) report, which was released in
September, forecast that metallurgical markets would increase
by nearly 2% per year as lead alloys experience growth from
increasing use in construction applications in emerging
Chinas domestic antimony ingot market had shown minor
activity with inquiries for future orders, but prices slipped
slightly as demand from overseas customers fell.
Some manufacturers were
introducing lower prices to buyers to maintain order levels,
But other manufacturers in China
were holding stocks and were reluctant to sell at lower prices,
other sources said in September.
Antimony prices are temporarily
stable in Europe, but turnover for antimony producers continues
Metallurgical Group NV (AMG) reported that it had seen a 16%
decrease in its antimony trioxide revenue for the second
quarter of 2012.
Its antimony business, in
particular, had been affected by the economic slowdown in
Europe, and earning conditions would be difficult,
with a previously anticipated H2 growth now not expected to
materialise, AMG said.
Titanium dioxide market softening
The titanium dioxide (TiO2) market is continuing to
soften, market sources indicated to IM.
Pigment sales have slowed
right down globally, one source said.
Either most, or all,
producers have high inventory, and most are trying to slow down
their incoming feedstock commitments, the source
Leading paint manufacturers
previously indicated that earlier 2012 price increases from
pigment producers were not accepted, and with softness in the
market, hikes like the one made by Kronos, were unexpected.
Kronos announced an increase of
$200/tonne for all customers excluding North America and
Europe, effective 1 September 2012.
But while the pigment market
declines, the feedstock market remains buoyed.
While the pigment market
has shown signs of softening, the feedstock market remains firm
amidst continued tight supply and low inventories, one
North American source said.
The Chinese market is also
showing some signs of slowing, with ilmenite prices dropping on
excess supply. The CIF China ilmenite price is in the range of
$270-290/tonne, one source said.
Zircon prices teeter as Iluka and Rio Tinto hold
In zircon, Iluka Resources Ltd and Rio Tinto Plc have both
auctioned large quantities of zircon sand at reduced rates,
Rio Tinto auctioned roughly
15,000 tonnes premium grade zircon at around $2,000/tonne at
the end of August while Iluka Resources auctioned 5,000 tonnes
high-grade zircon at $2,150/tonne the day before,
IM was told by market sources.
This is well under the
previously offered price of $2,500-2,640 (premium grade, bulk,
FOB Australia), as reported by the IM prices
However, these discounted prices
are for limited quantities to be delivered next quarter,
This is indicative of the
pricing pressure that the top tier producers (Rio Tinto, Iluka,
and Exxaro) are experiencing, one source explained to
Zircon sales, Iluka said in
July, were heavily hit with a 40-60% drop in its sales forecast
down to 200-300,000 tonnes for 2012. The company only sold
87,000 tonnes in the first half of 2012 and a large shipment
was deferred due to port delays.
The result of this auction,
sources indicated, is that many buyers are hesitating to commit
to large purchases of zircon in case prices do fall
Some companies have also had to
renegotiate their longer-term contracts with new price
offerings that are between $2,050-2,300/tonne.
Rare earths slump on economy woes
Rare earths have continued to trade at a 12-month low with many
buyers subsisting on stockpiles, sources told
IM in September.
With weak demand for the
minerals looking set to continue in the near-medium term, a
price floor for the minerals has yet to be discovered, market
Market sources said that the
spot market for rare earths has been particularly hard-hit,
with some of the industrys biggest buyers (including
electronics equipment manufacturers Apple and Hewlett-Packard,
as well as aviation giant, Boeing) buying stock in advance.
This has left only smaller companies buying in the spot
market, tendering smaller orders at lower prices.
Rare earths slip lower