IM’s full price listing is only published
online. If you have any comments or concerns, or wish to
discuss any of the grades or prices listed, please contact
Barbara O’Donovan, Industrial Minerals editor
White fused alumina
Lower Chinese prices push white fused alumina market
Prices of white fused alumina (WFA) decreased in April, while
spot quotes from China pushed the market down from the high
levels recorded at the start of the year.
Following a notable increase in both contract and spot
prices of WFA in early January, on the back of a widespread
material shortage coupled with high demand, the market had
stabilized before the latest drop in spot quotes.
Industrial Minerals assessed the price for WFA refractory
grade at €730-850 per tonne ($903-1,050) cif Europe on
April 19, down from €780-900 per tonne cif on April 5.
Market assessments gathered by Industrial Minerals suggest
the decrease is related to lower prices out of China, which
comes after a phase of really high prices for Chinese WFA.
Between the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, when the
shortage of bauxite, brown fused alumina (BFA) and WFA was at
its peak and demand was high in the run-up to the Lunar New
Year, spot prices for Chinese material had, in some cases,
exceeded quotes for ex-China origin material.
This had supported the high levels in January and during the
"There is no point in importing WFA from China to Europe at
the moment, as I can get the same price, or even a little
less, if I buy from non-Chinese sources," one distributor in
Europe said to Industrial Minerals in January.
"You go to China because prices are lower. If they
aren’t, what’s the point?" he
Other sources in the market had given a similar description
of the situation at the time. This price pattern had prompted a
shift in demand away from Chinese material toward non-Chinese
producers in Eastern and Western Europe.
"We are overbooked. We can’t confirm any new
orders. Demand has been high from existing customers and from
new customers who are looking for WFA as an alternative
material, or who don’t want to source in China,"
one large producer outside of China told Industrial Minerals
earlier this year.
Prices in China have declined in the subsequent months up to
now, pushing the global market down, Industrial Minerals
In some cases, distributors returned to source material in
China on the spot market, following the decrease in domestic
Market participants active in western markets had, in
previous assessments, stated that non-Chinese producers
– especially within Europe – had maintained
higher prices compared with China, and would still be trading
at the higher end of the pricing range.
Contractual patterns are also thought to play a role because
China normally supplies on a spot basis, while other origins
set contracts on a monthly or quarterly basis.
|Alumina, fused white, 25kg bags, CIF Europe,
Global spot iodine prices tick up on tight
Global iodine prices rose in April due to higher achieved
sales, tight material supply and bullish sentiment among
Industrial Minerals assessed iodine global spot market
crystal, min 99.5%, drums, prices at $24-25.50 per kg on 12
April, up 50 cents on the high end of the range from a week
Producers and consumers reported an active market in the
latest pricing assessment.
"We have been achieving sales of iodine in the spot market
[globally] as high as $25.50 per kg; however, there is still an
important part of the global market trading material as low as
$24 per kg," a producer told Industrial Minerals.
"The market is moving upwards due to producers’
bullish sentiment and tight supply of iodine globally," a
"We are currently seeing the market between $24.50-25.50 per
kg for lots of 5 tonnes and [there were some] offers as high as
$25.75 per kg," the consumer added.
Persistently scarce material is one of the main concerns
within the iodine industry and a factor for bullish sentiment
among producers that are pushing for higher prices globally,
according to market participants.
Meanwhile, fears that producers will not be able to increase
output over the course of 2018 is also driving prices higher,
Contract price steady
Industrial Minerals’ iodine crystal, 99.5 min,
drums, contract price assessment was at $23-24 per kg on April
12, unchanged from the prior week.
Market participants told Industrial Minerals that their
iodine contract prices were unchanged, but higher spot prices
could push up current contract prices.
Contract prices are typically renegotiated on a quarterly,
bi-annual and annual basis.
"Our different contract prices remain unchanged, and whether
they will be increased for next quarter or mid this year
[depending on their quarterly and biannual contracts] will
depend on the iodine spot market price and whether there is
enough material in the global market," a consumer told
|Iodine crystal, 99.5% min, drums, spot
European, North American lithium spot markets up;
Chinese spot market unchanged
Chinese lithium spot market prices remain unchanged as a
result of thin buying activity, while some lithium suppliers
were resistant to sell their material too cheaply.
Consequently, the spot price for battery-grade lithium
carbonate (min 99.5% Li2CO3) remained at 145,000-150,000 yuan
per tonne* ($23,093-23,890) on Thursday April 12, according to
Industrial Minerals’ market assessment.
"We started purchasing battery-grade lithium carbonate in
small volumes this week, and we can buy lithium carbonate at
145,000 yuan per tonne," a consumer told Industrial
"However, some producers were unwilling to lower prices and
withholding their material if it was not sold between
148,000-150,000 yuan per tonne," the consumer added.
"Lithium carbonate prices have been stable in recent days
after a slight decrease at the end of March and we had no deals
concluded as consumers are holding back and waiting for lower
spot prices before purchasing more material," a lithium
producer told Industrial Minerals. "We don’t
expect prices to fall in the coming months due to the huge
demand coming from the development of the new energy vehicle
sector in China, which is a key driver for lithium prices."
Meanwhile, the battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate
(min 56.5% LiOH.H2O) market was similarly unchanged week on
week, remaining between 148,000-153,000 yuan per tonne on
Thursday April 12, according to Industrial
Minerals’ market assessment.
Seaborne China, Japan and South Korean markets remained
unchanged week on week after a small price increase was
reported to Industrial Minerals in the last week of March.
The technical and industrial grades of lithium carbonate
spot prices, cif China, Japan and South Korea, remained
unchanged week on week between $18-20 per kg on Thursday April
Similarly, the battery grade lithium carbonate, cif China,
Japan and South Korea price was unchanged at $19-21 per kg,
according to Industrial Minerals’ market
A lack of market activity has also kept the lithium
hydroxide monohydrate, technical, industrial and battery grade
spot market prices unchanged this week.
The lithium hydroxide monohydrate, technical and industrial
grades cif China, Japan and South Korea, was at $20-21 per kg
on Thursday April 12 unchanged week on week, while battery
grade was unchanged at $20-22 per kg, according to Industrial
Minerals market assessment.
Europe, North America
In Europe and North America the lithium spot markets were
more active, with market participants reporting higher prices
week on week due to the scarcity of lithium carbonate in the
global spot market.
The European and North American spot prices of lithium
carbonate, technical and industrial grades, moved up week on
week to $17-20 per kg on April 12 from $17-19 per kg.
"The price of lithium carbonate remains quite high due to
scarce availability, and prices below $19 per kg for lithium
carbonate technical, industrial and battery grades would be
quite hard to find currently in the spot market," a supplier
told Industrial Minerals.
Battery-grade spot prices for lithium carbonate increased 50
cents on the top end of the range to $18-20.50 per kg on April
12 from $18-20 per kg assessed in the prior week.
"The global lithium carbonate market remains quite tight as
different producers are sold out and selling most of their
material on a contract basis, meanwhile, some of our leftovers
are being sold in the spot market at higher prices when
compared to our contract prices," a second producer told
Lithium hydroxide monohydrate spot prices have firmed due to
tight lithium carbonate availability and higher year on year
lithium carbonate contract prices.
"The higher lithium carbonate prices, both on a contract and
spot basis, alongside scarcity for this material has made us
increase our lithium hydroxide prices progressively since the
beginning of 2018, having increased our prices again this
week," a second supplier told Industrial Minerals.
Affected by the tightness of lithium carbonate in the global
market and higher prices, Industrial Minerals assessed the
prices for technical and industrial grades of lithium hydroxide
monohydrate at $19.50-20.50 per kg on April 12, moving up from
$19-20.50 per kg a week earlier.
Meanwhile, the battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate
increased 50 cents on the top end of the range to $19-21.50
per kg on April 12 from the week previous.
*Battery grade lithium carbonate and hydroxide prices
are available in full in Industrial Minerals’
weekly Battery Price Report.
|Lithium carbonate min 99.5% Li2CO3 battery
grade, spot price,
ex-works domestic China, yuan/tonne
PARIS ICDA 2018: Chemical grade chromite price holds
despite volatile UG2 prices
The chemical grade chromite market remains quiet amid
continuing volatility in metallurgical chrome ore prices, as
well as a wide spread due to localized trading patterns.
Prices for chemical grade chromite have been stable over
recent weeks due to limited trading activity while most of the
industry met in Paris for the Internal Chromium Development
Association (ICDA) members meeting which took place in late
China, the single largest consumer of the material, remains
slow in securing new orders, market participants told
Industrial Minerals on the sidelines of the Paris event. This
has been one crucial factor in determining price momentum as of
Industrial Mineral assessed chemical grade chromite, 46%
Cr2O3, wet bulk, at $285-340 fob South Africa on Tuesday April
Prices for this grade have been stable since early
Participants point to large stockpiles in China as
contributing to the slow trading, as well as an ongoing
standoff between Chinese buyers and South African suppliers,
whose bids and offers differ widely and prevent
"Chrome stocks at ports in China are high, but the
consumption rate is also high. This means that they will have
to start buying, otherwise they could run out of feedstock,"
one delegate in Paris said.
Around 3 million tonnes of chromite (including both
metallurgical and non-metallurgical material of all grades) are
now sitting in warehouses at Chinese ports, Industrial Minerals
While this is larger than for most of last year, participants
claim the utilization rate is equally higher. At this rate,
it is thought current stocks would last between two and three
Volatile met grade
Meanwhile, the bearish price moments in the metallurgical
chrome ore space are being closely monitored by chemical grade
The industry is assessing whether the lower prices of UG2
chrome ore will have an effect on chemical grade quotes.
Historically, metallurgical and chemical prices are closely
correlated, with the latter normally following on the basis of
The Metal Bulletin UG2 chrome ore index fell to $193 per
tonne cif China on April 20 from $244 per tonne on March
But while prices for metallurgical UG2 have been declining,
the chemical market has remained stable.
Around this time last year, when the UG2 chrome ore price
tanked, chemical grade prices followed suit.
Chemical grade prices more or less halved over the course of
a couple of months, falling from above $400 per tonne in late
April 2017 to a 14-month low of $200-220 per tonne in July of
that year. It took a few months into the fourth quarter for
prices to recover.
Some participants say variables affecting the market are
different this year, and this would prevent prices from falling
as far as they did in 2017.
"Last year we were in a condition of oversupply,
particularly for met grade, which is not the case this year,"
one supplier said.
A second supplier added: "The bearish drive [in
metallurgical prices on chemical] is contained by the fact that
availability is limited. This means that sellers of chemical
grade may be able to uphold their offers, rather than feeling
forced to sell."
A third supplier pointed to the high utilization rate in
China, claiming that "they will burn through their stocks
quickly and will have to return to the market."
Spread remains wide
The spread between the low and high ends of the chemical
grade price remains as wide as it has been over the past few
weeks, following a first expansion recorded in early March.
The spread has persisted due to a geographical split between
destinations, with some markets – particularly China
and Southeast Asia – consistently at the low end of
the range, while other destinations – including
Russia, Europe, the United States – have consumers who
have been more accepting of higher prices.
"I am simply not exposing myself to China at the moment,
since the prices I get elsewhere are much higher," one seller
"Spreads are high on everything," another supplier added,
suggesting that some buyers in western markets may be buying
chemical as a substitute for much more expensive foundry sand
for some refractory applications. "This may also explain why
spreads are higher than normal."
|Chromite, chemical, 46% Cr2O3, wet bulk, FOB
South Africa, $/tonne
Chinese magnesia prices steady on halt in magnesite
Magnesia producers in China’s Liaoning province
have confirmed to Industrial Minerals that they still are not
allowed to extract magnesite using explosives, and have stopped
all magnesite mining because of imminent environmental
Magnesia prices have increased by more than 100 yuan ($16)
per tonne in the domestic market, but producers have not
adjusted their export prices because of sluggish demand, with
most overseas buyers staying on the market sidelines waiting
for clearer signs of a price direction.
"We kept our magnesia export prices unchanged this week on
the lack of spot buying. I heard that the central environment
inspection group will arrive in Liaoning in May, so the halt in
magnesite mining may last until then. Prices still have upside
potential if the interruption to magnesite mining lasts for a
long time," a producer in Haicheng said in April.
"There is no confirmed news on when the restrictions will
stop," a second producer in Haicheng said.
"I think it will come to an end in June or July because the
central environment inspection group will arrive in the middle
of May. We haven’t adjusted magnesia export prices
this week, but I think prices will edge upward because most
magnesia companies will run out of raw materials if the
restriction continues for much longer," the second producer
Most downstream buyers were waiting for lower prices.
"We only purchased a small batch of magnesia after receiving
news of mine closures in Liaoning, and concluded that prices
will be unchanged [for some time]," a buyer for an overseas
refractory producer said. "Suppliers informed me that prices
may increase if the halt in magnesite mining continues, so I
will keep watching the market direction for a while."
Because most exporters have kept their export prices
unchanged while the halt in magnesite mining continues,
Industrial Minerals’ price assessments for caustic
calcined magnesia (CCM), dead burned magnesia (DBM) and fused
magnesia (FM) were stable in the week ended Friday April
The price of CCM 90-92% MgO fob China held at $180-220 per
tonne on Tuesday April 24, and the price of DBM 97.5% MgO
stayed at $1,100-1,400 per tonne fob China. The price of 97%
MgO (Ca:Si 2:1) remained at $1,250-1,400 per tonne.
|Magnesia, calcined, 90-92% MgO, FOB China,
Sparse buying activity leaves Chinese magnesia export
Sluggish buying activity in China’s magnesia
market has left prices unchanged at the beginning of May, with
most overseas buyers holding back in the hope of getting
cheaper material if the country’s government
allows miners to restart the extraction of magnesite.
Sources in the industry told Industrial Minerals on
May 9 that there is still no news about when the magnesite
mining stoppages, which began in April, will be rescinded.
"We are nearly running out of high-grade magnesia stocks due
to a lack of high-quality raw materials," a producer in
Haicheng said. "But we haven’t pushed up export
prices further because current global trading activity is very
weak, while low-grade magnesia stocks are still sufficient
compared with high-grade materials."
The price for dead-burned magnesia (DBM), 90% MgO lump, fob
China, was $220-280 per tonne, unchanged from last week, while
the price of DBM, 97.5% MgO lump, fob China, was similarly
steady at $1,100-1,400 per tonne, according to Industrial
Minerals’ assessments on May 8.
Meanwhile, the prices of caustic calcined magnesia (CCM) and
fused magnesia (FM) were also steady on quiet purchasing
activity this week.
Industrial Minerals’ price assessments on May 8
were CCM 90-92% MgO, fob China, steady at $180-220 per tonne,
and FM 97% MgO (Ca:Si 2:1), fob China, unchanged at
$1,250-1,400 per tonne.
"I think prices might drift lower if magnesite mining
recovers in June or July, but there is no confirmed news [about
that] yet," a buyer from a Europe-based company said. "We
haven’t started to purchase CCM because we are
still waiting for a clearer market direction.
Weak demand pressures acidspar prices lower
Industrial Minerals assessed acid grade fluorspar (acidspar)
min 97% CAF2, wet filtercake at $430-530 per tonne fob China on
Thursday May 3, down from $450-550 per tonne previously.
"Chinese domestic acidspar prices fell from just over 3,000
yuan ($471) per tonne in March to 2,600-2,800 yuan per tonne,
caused by sluggish downstream [demand from the] hydrofluoric
acid and refrigerant industries," a trader in south China told
"Increasing supply, with more producers recovering
production in the second quarter 2018, is another factor for
the price fall," he said.
The fluorochemical industry
is the biggest end-user of acidspar, using the mineral to
manufacture hydrofluoric acid - a key raw material in
refrigerants, fluorocarbons and fluoropolymers.
The hydrofluoric acid market is also suffering downward
pressure and demand for acidspar has reduced.
Metallurgical-grade fluorspar (metspar) prices were
unchanged week on week on 3 May, because high-quality materials
remained in tight supply due to strict environmental standards
Industrial Minerals assessed metspar min. 85% CAF2 steady at
$350-370 per tonne fob China. Metspar is used as a metal
smelting feedstock for steelmaking, and steel production is a
key driver of metspar demand.
|Acidspar, 97% CaF2, Wet Filtercake, FOB,
Seaborne antimony trioxide market softens amid
Demand in the Chinese seaborne antimony trioxide (Sb2O3)
market weakened at the end of April due to lower demand as
consumers waited for lower prices.
The Industrial Minerals price assessment for Chinese
antimony trioxide fell by $40 per tonne week on week on Tuesday
April 24 to $7,360-7,460 per tonne fob, down from $7,400-7,500
per tonne fob.
"Softening demand has made us [drop] our selling prices and
we had to [do] deals at... below $7,400 per tonne for lots of
at least 20 tonnes," one supplier said.
"We have been receiving offers for new material, [but]
however, we believe the market will soon reach the bottom and
have been holding back to shop at lower prices," a consumer
told Industrial Minerals.
Metal Bulletin’s domestic Chinese MMTA standard
grade II antimony, ddp price stabilized at 51,500-52,000 yuan
($8,191-8,270) per tonne on April 18 after a period in
decline, due to scarce demand and availability since March
14, when prices were 53,000-53,500 yuan.
Europe and the US
Prices in the European and United States seaborne antimony
trioxide markets also witnessed price falls on April 24,
motivated by a lack of consumer appetite and lower prices in
Industrial Minerals’ weekly price assessment
for European antimony trioxide, cif Antwerp/Rotterdam was at
$7,500-7,600 per tonne on Tuesday April 24, down from
$7,600-7,700 per tonne a week earlier, while the weekly
assessment for the same material in the US on the same day was
$7,550-7,650 per tonne cif US East Coast from $7,650-7,750 per
tonne in the prior week.
"The market has gone down influenced by the lack of consumer
appetite alongside [poor] availability in the market," another
supplier told Industrial Minerals.
Meanwhile, Metal Bulletin’s European antimony
metal MMTA standard grade II, in-warehouse Rotterdam price
remained on a downward trend last week - influenced by lack of
consumer appetite and material availability - falling to
$8,200-8,350 per tonne on Friday April 20, down from
$8,300-8,450 per tonne on April 18.
In the European and US domestic markets, antimony trioxide
prices remained unchanged on scant market activity as consumers
waited to buy material at lower prices.
Industrial Minerals’ European antimony trioxide
in-warehouse Antwerp and Rotterdam price was at €6.30-6.70
($7.70-8.19) per kg on April 24, unchanged since April 10.
And the price assessment for US domestic antimony trioxide
in-warehouse Baltimore was unchanged week on week at $3.45-3.55
per lb on lack of consumer appetite, according to Industrial
Minerals’ market assessment on April 24.
"The European and US markets remain stable for the time
being," a supplier told Industrial Minerals. "However, the
lower seaborne prices could soon influence domestic prices in
Europe and the US."
|Antimony trioxide, typically 99.5% Sb2O3, 20
tonne lots FOB China, $/tonne
Chinese producers maintain firm prices for spherical
Chinese export prices for spherical graphite were unchanged
at the start of May, with producers confident that supplies
will tighten later in the month ahead of the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization (SCO) conference in June due to the
temporary closure of heavy industries in the region to improve
Industrial Minerals assessed spherical graphite, 99.95% C,
15 microns at $2,700-2,800 per tonne fob China on Thursday May
3, unchanged from the previous week.
A major producer in Qingdao sought to conclude deals at
above $2,800 per tonne fob China for spherical graphite given
the firm domestic prices of 18,000-21,000 yuan ($2,829-3,301)
"Since the SCO summit is coming in June, I heard production
restrictions might start at the end of May and sea transport
might also be influenced at that time," a producer in Qingdao
said. "But there is no official news yet [of
"Supplies will be tighter from the end of May," he
Graphite flake prices also remained steady week on week.
Producers in major graphite production hub Shandong province
told Industrial Minerals the graphite flake market had stayed
flat because of unexceptional demand from the downstream
"With more producers in Heilongjiang province restarting
production recently, demand for graphite flake from Qingdao
will reduce because [prices in the country’s
number two graphite region, Heilongjiang] are cheaper," a
producer in Qingdao said.
Industrial Minerals’ price assessment for
graphite flake 94-97% C, -100 mesh in China was unchanged at
$655-790 per tonne on 3 May as was the price assessment for
+80 mesh material with the same carbon content, which
remained at $1,050-1,210 per tonne.
Strong carbonate, hydroxide monohydrate prices in
China boosting spodumene prices in Q2
Persistently strong lithium carbonate and hydroxide
monohydrate prices in China’s spot market have
propelled lithium spodumene (LiO2) prices higher the since the
start of the second quarter.
"The lithium concentrate price has been going up quarter on
quarter," a lithium concentrate consumer told Industrial
Minerals. "As long as the Chinese lithium carbonate and
hydroxide monohydrate spot market prices remain strong, this
trend will persist."
The price of lithium spodumene min 5-6% fob Australia had to
$855-925 per tonne as of April 25 from $860-910 per tonne a
And the lithium spodumene min 5-6% cif China price climbed
to $900-970 per tonne on April 25 from $900-950 per tonne at
the end of March, according to Industrial
Minerals’ monthly market assessments.
Meanwhile, the lithium spodumene min 7-7.5% cif China price
was unchanged month on month at $975-1,000 per tonne on April
25 but up from $950-1000 at the end of February and from
$755-780 per tonne in August last year.
"Our lithium concentrate prices from Australia remain mainly
pegged to offtake agreements with our Chinese customers, which
are updated every quarter or every six months," an Australian
lithium spodumene producer told Industrial Minerals.
"Prices have gone up mainly due to the higher prices in the
Chinese domestic spot market against which we calculate our
offtake prices in our contracts," the producer added.
Battery-grade lithium carbonate and hydroxide monohydrate
prices in the Chinese domestic spot market remain at all-time
highs of $22,229 per tonne* and $23,811 per tonne respectively,
according to Industrial Minerals’ price
assessments on April 26.
Prices have been at this level over the past year - far
above prices of $5,000-7,000 per tonne that were prevalent
before the lithium boom at the end of 2015.
The higher production costs associated with the production
of lithium concentrate from hard rock compared with production
from brine have also contributed to higher lithium carbonate
and hydroxide monohydrate prices both in the Chinese spot
market and globally, market participants told Industrial
"Currently, over 50% of the world production of lithium
carbonate equivalent (LCE) is coming from Australia and this
has given a more robust price to the lithium compounds
currently sold globally," a second Australian lithium
concentrate producer told Industrial Minerals.
"There is huge demand in China and appetite for more raw
material from Australia has promoted practices such as the
shipping of direct shipping ore (DSO) from Australia to
China," he added.
*Battery grade lithium carbonate and hydroxide prices
are available in full in Industrial Minerals’
weekly Battery Price Report.
|Spodumene min 7-7.5% Li2O, CIF China,
Source: China Customs
PRICING NOTICE: Discontinuation of one zircon grade,
launching of another
After a consultation period, Industrial Minerals has
suspended the following grade of zircon, effective April 18,
• Zircon premium grade min 66.5% ZrO2 bulk fob Australia
$ per tonne
Industrial Minerals has suspended this grade after assessing
that fob terms are no longer representative of global market
Since Europe represents a large market in terms of zircon
consumption outside of China, Industrial
Minerals will launch the following price assessment,
effective April 18, 2018:
• Zircon, premium grade, min 66.5% ZrO2, cif Spain, $
To consistently provide the market with the most relevant
data, Industrial Minerals will continue to assess prices for
the following grades:
• Zircon, premium grade, min 66.5% ZrO2, bulk, cif
China, $ per tonne
• Zircon, standard grade, min 65.5% ZrO2, cif China, $
If you have any comments on the discontinuation or launch of
these prices please contact Cameron Perks by email at:
email@example.com. Please add the subject heading: 'FAO:
Cameron Perks, re: Zircon’.
All historical data relating to these prices prior to their
suspension will be retained and made available to subscribers