"We haven’t delivered any materials for the
moment because transportation has been delayed due to the
coronavirus [situation]," a magnesia producer told Fastmarkets
on Friday February 7.
"Currently, most logistic companies haven’t
come back to work [since the extended break for the lunar new
year holiday], which [means that there are] fewer freight cars
to deliver materials and freight fees are higher than usual," a
fluorspar producer said.
"We resumed part of our production recently, but we face
difficulties in transporting materials to customers due to
there being fewer freight cars for the moment," a lithium
producer said. "As for delivering lithium hydroxide, even if
freight fees double, it is still hard to find freight
Most Chinese businesses closed on January 24 for the lunar
new year holiday. This was scheduled to end on January 30 but
has been successively extended to keep businesses closed in an
attempt to slow the spread of the infection.
These closures, which were being implemented on a
province-by-province basis, now looked likely to disrupt
activity until the end of February.
In Henan, fused alumina producers said that companies were
going to be closed until February 17.
Workers who return to the province from elsewhere after the
extended holiday will not be allowed to return to their
factories straight away. They will instead be monitored for
symptoms for a further two weeks before they can go back to
This meant that many operations were not going to be able to
resume production before the end of February.
Given production lead times and shipping distances, no new
alumina was likely to arrive in Europe until the end of
An alumina and bauxite market source said that "prices are
not rising now because [Chinese] people are not working. Once
they come back and factories restart, you’ll see
But the disruptions could be exacerbated by the knock-on
effects of the shutdown regime.
"If vessels don’t get cargoes right now,
shipowners may move them elsewhere," a source said. "This could
lead to a shortage of vessels once the situation improves and
cargo can make it to ports."
As well as the disruptions within China, the attempts to
control the disease have led to restrictions on shipments over
The northern province of Lang Son in Vietnam has closed its
border with China, while another province, Lao Cai, has imposed
restrictions on border crossings.
According to a trader, overland cargo to Russia was still
being allowed through on trains, but there were no trucking companies available to move
cargoes to and from the rail terminals.