Deliveries of chromite to China started 2017 on a high
against the early months of last year although month-on-month
shipments showed a dip in February on the back of slow Q1
Imports of chromite as a whole, including metallurgical
non-metallurgical chrome materials, showed a steady growth
pattern throughout the second half of 2016, according to China
Deliveries peaked in January this year at 1.53m tonnes,
generating a value of $446.67m. The month marked a two-year
high for Chinese chromite demand, according to data available
to IM. In volume terms, the January trade was
64% above the same time last year, while in value terms the
year-on-year (y-o-y) growth stood at 237%.
The pattern confirms the rapid appreciation in chromite
demand and prices noted by IM in recent months, which took both
met and non-met grades alike to stellar highs in H2 2016.
In the case of chemical and foundry grade chromite, market
benchmarks hit a five-year high last December.
January deliveries – a significant amount of which
would have been contracted the previous month – shows
further evidence to the strong uptrend the market saw at the
time. Additionally, these confirm what sources told
IM towards the end of last year, pointing to
strong buying activity right up to Christmas time as Chinese
customers were keen to receive their cargo before the Chinese
New Year holiday period, which started earlier than usual at
the end of January and, during which, operations in the country
were shut for two-three weeks.
In volume terms, Chinese imports rose from close to 895,000
tonnes last August to over 1m tonnes in November, then remained
steadily above the 1m tonne per month (tpm) mark in the
The average unit value of imports – again, these
include all chromite product types, met and non-met, traded
into China under HS code 2610 – for the past months
shows an evident upward trend that, from May to December, took
the rate up by 103%.
As demand continued to increase, so did the overall value of
imported volumes, which rose from $122.24m last June to
$292.12m in December, and peaked in January at $446.67m.
February data showed consistency with the previous months on
a y-o-y basis while it posted a decline sequentially.
With 1.29m tonnes chromite imported in the month, valued at
$425.54m, February levels were double those at the same time in
2016 (+114% and +445% in volume and value respectively).
At the same time, volumes entering China in February were
16% lower than January import volumes, while value decreased 5%
m-o-m. This corresponds to the slow contracting
activity that market participants have reported to
IM since the beginning of the year, and which
protracted into March.