little in the way of positive news for the global
industrial minerals industry, with price appreciation
confined to list price increases by global producers. Some of
these were attributed to cost inflation, while others were
aimed at countering declines in spot prices.
Even barite (barytes) and
lithium prices, which have been islands of relative
positivity this year, saw only flat to weak price movements
during the month, while elsewhere, both pricing and demand
trends continued downwards for iodine and rare
Chemical minerals – antimony,
iodine fall further
antimony ingot prices fell in November, as soft downstream
conditions continued to eat into demand.
Prices for antimony ingot on an FOB
China basis have been revised to $8,900-9,000/tonne, down
from $9,000-9,100/tonne in October.
Metal Bulletin’s price for
standard grade II antimony stands at
ICL will ask its
customers in the Far East to pay 20% more for its elemental
bromine and hydrobromic acid products, effective
immediately from early November, or in accordance with
existing agreements with customers.
IM’s bromine prices (bulk,
purified, 99.95% Br, ex works, CIF Europe) stand at
The price of
Chilean iodine fell below $30/kg in mid-November, market
sources reported to IM.
Industry insiders said that a price
of $29/kg recently offered for Chilean material was likely to
be a deal for a very large contract or a longer than usual
IM’s prices for iodine
(crystal, 99.5% min, drums) stand at $31- 37/kg on a spot and
The price of
antimony ingot (99.65% min), used to make antimony
trioxide, which is mainly used in flame retardants, managed to
escape falls in the price of standard grade II antimony metal,
an alloy ingredient, in October as traders stood firm over
Market reports suggested that traders
had begun liquidating their positions in antimony ingot during
the last month, in an effort to cut their losses.
One market participant in London
for London Metal Exchange (LME) Week told IM that antimony looks likely to
remain "pretty volatile" for the foreseeable future and
that he would "not be surprised if some traders decide not to
hang on for the ride".
Elsewhere, ICL’s bromine
business was reported to have "come under margin pressures
over the past few years," according to a statement announcing
ICL’s bromine price increases.
Asian prices for bromine
products are reported to be among the lowest globally,
with overcapacity in the region leading to price weakness that
has affected the profits of other large bromine companies,
including US-based Albemarle Corp. and Chemtura
These companies said earlier this
year that they had faced resistance to introducing higher
priced bromine products in Asian markets, but ICL declined
to comment on this when contacted by IM.
For iodine, one market source
commented on the latest reports of lower prices that producers
are doing "whatever they can" to secure forward
haven’t seen a price at this level, but
it’s in the low $30s now and we do expect it to go
down further," the source added.
Another source said
that the $29/kg price may have been a fire sale to shift some
inventory and that they would wait to see whether this
price becomes embedded in the market before acknowledging a new
Energy minerals – softer times for lithium
lithium producer FMC Corp. is to raise global prices
for all grades of lithium carbonate and lithium salts by 10%,
effective 1 December 2014 or as contracts allow.
Philadelphia-based company said that the increases would
include prices for lithium hydroxide (LiOH),
pharmaceutical carbonate and speciality salts and will
apply to "all standard and non-standard pricing".
"The increases are
necessary to offset continued rising costs of raw materials and
operational cost pressures at our Argentina facility,"
Chris Senyk, global marketing director for FMC Lithium,
The latest hike in
LiOH prices is on top of a previous 10% rise the company levied
on these products in May this year.
IM’s prices for lithium
carbonate (large contracts, del. Continental US)
stand at $5.8-6.5/kg. LiOH prices (56.5-57.5%, large contracts,
packed in drums or bags, del. Europe or US) stand at
The launch of a new
dysprosium contract on China’s Fanya Metal
Exchange has prompted some positive movement in prices for the
heavy rare earth, according to market sources.
Both dysprosium and
terbium were listed on the exchange for the first time on 31
October and the increased market visibility afforded by
the contract has reportedly stirred interest from
dysprosium oxide (min 99%, bulk, FOB China) currently stand at
around $320- 375/kg. Market reports indicate that prices for
terbium oxide are around $590-650/kg, meanwhile.
decision to raise its lithium prices follows indications that
worldwide market values for lithium have fallen back
slightly on gains seen in the first half of 2014, with industry
insiders blaming a sobering of premature reactions to the
impact Tesla Motors’ lithium-ion battery
Gigafactory may have on demand.
vehicle producer is reported to be ahead of schedule on
construction of the facility in Nevada, US, but so far has not
made public any further information on its raw material
In the rare earths
market, warnings that car manufacturers are looking to
reduce specific consumption of rare earths in
magnetic motor components have cast a shadow on future
pricing projections, although a more positive assessment
of growing demand in the autocatalyst market offered some
reassurance to producers.
stockpile heavy rare earths by China’s State
Reserve Bureau is reported to be lending some support to the
market in China, although prices for light rare earths were
mostly flat in the last month.
Overcapacity in the
light rare earths market continues to cause concern that prices
for cerium and lanthanum have not yet bottomed,
earths producer Molycorp Inc. said at the start of November
that it had sold "immaterial" amounts of separated
cerium in the third quarter of this year, and that average
selling prices for rare earths products had fallen to $36.93/kg
for the period, down from $41.18/kg in Q3 2013.
Filler minerals see worldwide increases
North America announced at the end of October that it
will increase its calcium carbonate prices by up to 10% from 1
December, or as contracts allow.
The standard 10% price increases
will apply to all of the company’s calcium
carbonate products manufactured in the US and Mexico, and
are being implemented to "[support] investment in
manufacturing, quality systems, maintenance,
environmental compliance, and new product development," Imerys
Georgia, US-based Huber
Engineered Materials has also announced a 5%-10%
increase in calcium carbonate prices, citing cost increases in
materials, packaging, freight, regulatory compliance,
labour and capital investments.
FOB US prices for calcium
carbonate range from $25/s.ton to $420/s.ton, depending on
producer KaMin LLC will raise prices for its paper and
industrial grade kaolin products by between 5-7% from 1
December, or as contracts allow, while its Brazilian
affiliate company, CADAM SA, will simultaneously
introduce increases of 6-8% for paper grades.
These announcements followed a
statement by Germany-headquartered BASF that it would
increase its kaolin prices by up to 7% globally, with
immediate effect from early November.
Macon, Georgia-headquartered KaMin
said that the rate of increase will vary according to
KaMin also announced that its 2015
energy surcharge, which will be effective from 1 January 2015,
will remain unchanged with a threshold of $5/MMBTU (British
Thermal Unit) and incremental surcharges by product
applies to all of its slurry, spray-dried hydrous and
calcined kaolin products. It does not affect
IM’s prices for
paper-coating kaolin (Ex-Georgia plant) stand at
$118-185/s.ton, depending on grade, while Brazilian
paper-coating material is priced higher, at
As well as
increasing its calcium carbonate prices, Imerys also warned its
customers to expect further price volatility associated with
North American freight rates.
"Customers purchasing products on a delivered basis will
also see the effects of highly volatile and increasing truck
and rail freight rates," the company said in a statement.
"Imerys continues to work with its freight partners to minimise
this impact as much as possible," it added.
The company declined to
comment on whether underlying supply-demand
fundamentals had influenced the price increases when contacted
Imerys further noted that it intends to review surcharges
associated with "unique packag-ing configurations" as part of
an ongoing effort to reduce manufacturing complexity and cost
and to improve ready availability of bagged products.
Few details were given on the reasons for the kaolin price
increases, but industry insiders said that the rises were
in keeping with annual incremental price adjustments to
keep abreast of costs and inflation, as well as to maintain
Earlier this year, IM reported that prices for
paper-grade kaolin had slipped slightly as paper market
demand remained flat last year, while increased competition in
the sector was forcing producers to offer lower prices to
Kaolin is used in many of the same industries as calcium
carbonate, including paper, paint, ceramics, concrete and
Oilfield minerals – barren of barite
US barite importers
have told IM that it is "impossible" to get
drilling grade material from India at present, as the
status of the country’s barite mining tenders
remains in confusion.
Barite prices from
other regions, including China and Morocco, are believed to be
broadly stable, meanwhile, suggesting that the shortage in
India is not squeezing the market to any significant
IM’s prices for barite (drilling
grade, API underground lump) stand at $109-113/tonne for SG
4.10 material and $115-130/ tonne for SG 4.20 material on an
FOB China basis.
Prices for Indian
material cannot be assessed at present, as no trades are being
executed, but industry insiders believe that prices will rise
when the contracts are eventually awarded and mining
North American oilfield activity may decline in the wake
of falling oil prices could limit the impact of
India’s barite scarcity on global prices.
Refractory minerals under pressure in China
Alumina prices are
reported to be broadly stable, with weakening demand for
refractory grade material in Asia and Europe offset by
steady demand in the Middle East and robust consumption in
IM’s prices for fused alumina
(brown, 94% Al2O3, FEPA 8-220 mesh, refractory) stand at $750-
845/tonne FOB China.
Rising labour and
energy costs are putting pressure on refractory grade bauxite
producers in Shanxi Province, northeast China – the
word’s principal source of the material.
with the industry in Shanxi told IM that
average wages in the region have increased by around 45% in the
last year alone. The most recent rise came into effect in June
2014, according to Chinese sources.
Prices for round
kilned Shanxi bauxite (FOB Xingang) stand at between
$310-385/tonne, depending on grade. Pure rotary kilned
bauxite (FOB Xingang) prices stand at between $320-
Prices for Shanxi
calcined bauxite (FOB Xingang) stand at between
$330-390/tonne, depending on grade.
buying refractory grade alumina for Western economies said
that customers were benefitting from low freight rates, but
that the FOB China price for material had seen little
fluctuation during the third quarter of 2014.
For bauxite, one
source told IM that Shanxi producers are
trying to offset the additional costs by avoiding taxes, with
deals being conducted on a cash only basis to sidestep VAT.
This cuts the cost
of material by around 20%, and customers purchasing
bauxite on a CIF basis are often unaware of whether the tax has
been paid or not, the source added.
Natural gas prices
in Shanxi are also reported to be considerably higher than
global benchmarks and sources warned that these energy
costs would effectively put Shanxi "competitively out of the
loop", if the region did not have an effective monopoly on
refractory grade bauxite output.
are also reported to be high in Shanxi, while supply is
unreliable, causing power outages at a number of bauxite
Adding to the
regional industry’s woes are tightening
environmental controls, which are placing strict limits on
pollution and leading to factory suspensions,
closures and even arrests of managers.
Full information on all
IM’s prices can be
found on the IM Prices
Database online at
For fluorspar and graphite prices, please visit the IM Data
mineral tracker pages at