Chinese refractories H1 trade review

By Albert Li
Published: Friday, 12 August 2016

IM takes a look at the export stats for China’s refractory materials over the first half of the year including fused magnesia, caustic calcined magnesia, dead burned magnesia, alumina, graphite and silicon carbide.

Fused magnesia

China exported 156,783 tonnes fused magnesia (FM) in the first half of 2016, Chinese customs data show, up 10% year-on-year (y-o-y). The total monetary value of these exports came to $81.13m, down 1.4% on 2015 and the average price of FM products was $517.44/tonne, 10.4% less than the year before.

The majority of exported Chinese magnesia came from Liaoning province.

The US took the largest share of exported Chinese FM at 19.4% of the total, followed by the Netherlands as a conduit for other EU countries at 17.2%, Japan at 14.4%, Russia at 8.2% and South Korea at 7.9%. Compared to last year, the greatest increases in demand for Chinese FM came from the Netherlands and the US, where volumes grew by 134.2% and 8.6% y-o-y, while exports to Japan, Russia and South Korea have declined since H1 2015.

FM Trend
 FM Pie
Source: China Customs 

Dead Burned Magnesia

First half 2016 exports of Chinese dead burned magnesia (DBM) rose by 2% y-o-y to 251,967 tonnes, but cash receipts for these shipments contracted by 10.3% to $60.52m and the average price of DBM was 12.1% lower y-o-y at $240.20/tonne.

The US, Japan, and the Netherlands together accounted for nearly 70% of the export market in equal shares, but all imported less than they did a year ago. Other significant markets for Chinese DBM include South Korea, which received 10.4% of the total H1 volume and Italy, which took 3.3%.

DBM Trend 
 DBM Pie
 Source: China Customs

Caustic calcined magnesia

Unlike FM and DBM, the volume of China’s caustic calcined magnesia (CCM) exports fell in the first half of this year, declining by 9.4% to 150,717 tonnes for a value $30.39m, down 16.3% y-o-y. The average CCM price during the period was $201.60/tonne, 7.6% less than the year before.

The US, Japan and the Netherlands collectively took 56.4% of China’s exported CCM, with the rest being shared in relatively small fractions among other countries.

CCM Trend 
 CCM Pie
 Source: China Customs

Flake graphite

H1 2016 exports of Chinese flake graphite fell by 1.3% y-o-y to 52,506 tonnes, while the total value of these shipments shrank by 6.7% to $41.1m and the average price declined by 5.4% to $782.52/tonne.

The export profile for Chinese graphite is less concentrated than for magnesia, with Japan taking the largest share at 16.8% of the total, followed by the US at 14.9%, Germany at 14.5%, South Korea at 10.5%, India at 8.9%, Turkey at 6.9%, the Netherlands at 4.5% and Pakistan at 4.4%.

The Chinese provinces of Shandong and Heilongjiang accounted for the majority of Chinese graphite exports with 54.3% and 39.9% of the total volume, respectively. Inner Mongolia produced 2.8% of the total with the rest coming from other parts of China in small proportions.

Graphite Trend 
 Graphite Pie
 Source: China Customs

Silicon carbide

China exported 159,380 tonnes silicon carbide in H1 2016, down 5.2% y-o-y. The value of exports declined by 10.2% to $145.4m and the average price was 5.5% lower at $912.27/tonne.

The US received the most Chinese silicon carbide at 21.6% of the total, followed by South Korea at 20.5%, Japan at 20%, Taiwan at 9.6% and India at 3.5%.

China’s northwest provinces of Ningxia and Gansu accounted for 37.8% and 11.4% of exported Chinese silicon carbide, respectively, followed by Jiangsu at 10.3% and Henan at 9.7%.

 SC Trend
 SC Pie
 Source: China Customs


Chinese alumina exports in the first half of this year slid by 30.1% y-o-y to 46,721 tonnes for a total value $31m, down by 22%.

Qatar was the largest export destination for Chinese alumina with 32.1% of the market share, followed by Iran at 22.8%, South Korea at 13.5%, North Korea at 9.3% and Japan at 4.6%.

Jiangsu supplied 72.5% of China’s alumina exports, while Shandong accounted for 14.8%, with the rest coming from other regions.

 Al trend
 al pie
 Source: China Customs

China also imported 1.68m tonnes alumina in H1 2016, 7.4% less than the year before. The cost of imports stood at $450.93m, down 35.2% y-o-y with an average price of $268.65/tonne.

Australia was the largest supplier of alumina to China so far this year, accounting for 63% of imports, 4.7% ahead of the same period in 2015. Brazil meanwhile supplied 11.6%, an increase of 43.5% y-o-y. Other suppliers included Vietnam, which sent 10.5% of China’s imported alumina, followed by India at 9.1% and the US at 2.2%.

al imp trend 
 al imp pie
 Source: China Cutoms