Oil price turmoil may hit bentonite
The steep drop in global oil prices could
undermine prices in the bentonite market in 2015, industry
observers have suggested.
Crude oil prices dipped below $60/barrel in
mid-December 2014 (see p34), having been well north of
the $100/barrel mark as recently as the previous June.
The December falls were triggered by a report
from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries
(OPEC), which lowered its demand forecast for OPEC-produced
crude to the lowest level in a decade.
Bentonite clay is used in conventional oil and
gas well drilling to form muds that provide suspension for
weighting agents and drill cutting, as well as forming an
impervious coating on the drill hole walls to prevent gas or
liquid migration. The market for bentonite had been robust
throughout the first half of 2014. This left prices steady
throughout most of the year, although freight bottlenecks for
drilling-grade bentonite were reported to be limiting price
increases for the oilfield mineral back in April.
Oil prices are likely to rise from their current
levels, with an expected average price of $75-85/barrel in
2015, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BoA ML)
research published in December, but market observers still fear
that oilfield mineral demand may be curtailed as higher cost
operations are mothballed.
Prices for API grade bentonite (bagged, rail car,
ex-works Wyoming) shifted upwards slightly towards the end of
2014, from of $92-130/s.ton to $95-135/s.ton.
Bentonite, API grade, bagged, rail car,
ex-works, Wyoming, $/s.ton
Bentonite, rail hopper cars, crude, bulk (all
grades), ex-works Wyoming, US, s.ton
Bentonite, IOP grade, crude, bulk, ex-works
Wyoming, s.ton $68-72
Bentonite, Indian, FOB Kandla, crushed and dried,
loose bulk, IOP grade, tonne $36-40
Bentonite OCMA/Foundry grades crude and dried,
bulk, FOB Milos, tonne €60-80
Bentonite, foundry grade, bagged, rail cars,
ex-works Wyoming, s.ton $97-124
Bentonite, API grade, bagged, rail car, ex-works,
Wyoming, s.ton $95-135
Shanxi bauxite shambles to continue in
Rising labour and energy costs will continue to hurt
refractory grade bauxite producers in Shanxi Province,
northeast China - the word’s principal source of
the material, into 2015, as the industry is yet to reform its
practices, sources told IM in December,
Earlier in 2014, sources said that average wages
in the region had increased by around 45%
in the last year, while gas and electricity
prices in Shanxi are also reported to be uncompetitive.
The province saw a number of bauxite plants shut
down in 2014 after it emerged that many suppliers were
attempting to evade taxes by mis-describing the content of
shipments and conducting cash-only transactions.
Crackdowns by the Chinese government have put a
stop to some illegal practices but the industry remains choked.
Owing to weakness in demand from refractories manufacturers,
this has not had a significant impact on prices to date.
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
Prices for Shanxi calcined bauxite (FOB Xingang)
stand at between $330-390/tonne, depending on grade.
Shanxi, FOB Xingang, Round kiln
Shanxi, FOB Xingang, Round kiln 87/2.0/3.2, tonne
Shanxi, FOB Xingang, Round kiln 86/2.0/3.15-3.20,
Shanxi, FOB Xingang, Round kiln 85/2.0/3.15,
Shanxi, FOB Xingang, Rotary kiln 86/1.8/3.15,
Shanxi, FOB Xingang, Rotary kiln 85/1.8/3.15,
Shanxi, FOB Xingang, Calcined kiln 88/1.8/3.25,
Shanxi, FOB Xingang, Calcined kiln 87/2.0/3.20,
Shanxi, FOB Xingang, Calcined kiln 86/2.0/3.15,
Shanxi, FOB Xingang, Calcined kiln 85/2.0/3.10,
full price listing will now only be published online at
If you have any comments or concerns, or wish to discuss any of
the grades or prices listed, please contact
Laura Syrett, Prices Editor, at
For in-depth fluorspar and graphite price
analysis, please visit the IM Data mineral
tracker pages online.
Bold indicates a price change from the
previous month (it may have changed more than once during the
month). All prices are listed in US$ and quoted per tonne