LONDON, July 19 -- Many minor metals slipped over the last week due to the summer slowdown, although toxic metal antimony rose on persistent supply worries from top producer China.
Minor metals demand is slowing in Europe as many factories and consumers close for the summer holiday season, with business due to pick up around late August.
Bucking the trend, antimony ANT-LON grade 99.65, used as a fire-proofing ingredient, rose to about $8,725 a tonne from $8,200 a tonne last week.
"Antimony has been rocketing up," said one trader. "Seems that out of nine factories in Hunan province, eight had to close for pollution problems."
The silvery-white metal soared to a record high at $9,550 a tonne in early May after an environmental and health and safety crackdown in the Hunan province in top producer China.
But the volatile metal had eased back in recent months, with mixed reports coming from China, which contributes around 90 percent of world output.
"Antimony offers are through the roof," said another trader. "I heard $9,500 (offers) from the Chinese this morning."
Aluminium byproduct gallium GALL-ING-LON, used in optoelectronic devices such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) traded at its highest level since mid-January 2009 at about $500 a kg from around $475 a kg the week before.
"There is not much material available, one of the big producers decided not to sell therefore all the chain became extremely tight," said one trader.
Although many steel ingredients eased due to the summer shutdown, ferro molybdenum MLY-FERRO-LON traded unchanged at at about $37.50 a kg this week.
"It genuinely is quite tight in Europe and demand is remaining pretty good on the spot basis," said one trader. "You have got a bit of a split in the steel industry.
"In France you have most of the (steel mill) closures in July, whereas the German mills tend to sht down in August."
In April, the metal climbed to its highest level since November 2008 at $43.75, but has since eased back.
"Because everyone is still living hand-to-mouth, they still have orders to fulfil before they go on holidays," the trader added.
Ferrochrome FECRO-HC-RU, used in stainless steel to prevent corrosion, traded at about $1.15 a lb versus around $1.18 a lb last week and well below levels above $2.50 a lb in April last year.
"Ferro chrome is one of all the metals that seems to be better supported at the moment," Michael Widmer, analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch told Reuters Insider.
"Partly because a lot of the production is coming out of South Africa and there is more willingness to make sure that you don't have the immediate over supplies."
South Africa is the world's biggest ferro chrome producer and has more than 70 percent of the world's chrome ore reserves.
Three-month cobalt CBD3=LX, used as a battery material, was quoted at $37,000/$39,000 a tonne versus a trade at $38,500 a tonne on July 14.
"I was in German visiting a cobalt customer in dental alloys - they were very positive on their sector," said one trader. "Business is very slow but keeping us going. China is silent though."
Three-month molybdenum MOD3=LX futures, used at make steel, was quoted at $29,500/$33,500 a tonne, from a trade at $30,000 on July 12.