Chinese chromite imports dip in March

By Davide Ghilotti
Published: Friday, 09 June 2017

China’s demand slowing down in Q1; Buyers unwilling to secure new contracts; Seeking to force market prices down

Imports of chromite products into China posted double-digit volume declines in February and March, compounded by the slow buying activity from local importers that has characterised most of 2017 so far.

Imports of chromite as a whole, including metallurgical and non-metallurgical chrome materials, showed a steady growth pattern throughout the second half of 2016, according to China Customs data.

Following a peak in imports at the beginning of the year, with January deliveries hitting 1.53m tonnes for a total value of $446.67m, the rest of the first quarter saw an evident sequential decline, bearing testimony to the slow trading situation that has affected the market this year to date.

Chinese chromite imports (tonnes, $) 
Source: China Customs 

February imports stood at 1.29m tonnes, for a worth of $425.54m, marking a 16% drop in volume month-on-month (m-o-m) and a 5% decrease in value m-o-m.

March statistics posted a further decline on the previous months. At 1.01m tonnes, March saw a 22% drop in imports against February, and a 34% drop compared with the January peak.

In value terms, March imports generated a total $342.85m – that was 20% down on the previous month, and 23% down on January.

At the same time, first-quarter deliveries into China were much higher compared with Q1 2016 levels, when the chromite market as a whole was still recovering from a prolonged period of low prices, overcapacity and sluggish demand that characterised most of 2015.

Demand gradually improved during 2016, leading to a surge in imports in H2.

Q1 2017 imports, at 3.83m tonnes, were 81% up on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis. In value terms, the quarter generated $1.215bn in imports compared with $278m in Q1 2016 – a growth of 337%.

This article from the June issue of Industrial Minerals magazine was first   published online on 9 May 2017.