SHANGHAI, July 19 -- Nineteen Chinese exporters have challenged prices published by Metal Bulletin for the strategic metal indium since June, saying the industry publication, often cited as a reference in trade deals, was below the market.
China is the world's largest producer of indium, a small but vital component for flat-panel screens in television and computer monitors.
"The refined indium price Metal Bulletin (MB) published has failed to represent the current mainstream price on the Chinese market," said a statement published by the indium branch of the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association obtained by Reuters on Friday.
"In addition, we have never sold refined indium at the low price Metal Bulletin published since mid-June."
The statement was signed by 19 exporters, including industry heavyweights Zhuzhou Smelter (600961.SS: Quote), Huludao Nonferrous Metals, Shenzhen Zhongjin Lingnan Nonfemet Company (000060.SZ: Quote) and Hsikwangshan Twinkling Star.
A Metal Bulletin story on July 5 said indium prices had become the subject of fierce contention because several Chinese producers insisted it was impossible to buy the material below $530 per kg, although the metals market publication had reported deals below $500 per kg.
Metal Bulletin said in the story that its indium quotations were based on the Minor Metals Trade Association's 4N norm; but 80 percent of purchases are for the indium tin oxide market, which requires higher purity material.
The story said Metal Bulletin would change its price quotation as soon as it was satisfied the move was necessary, and asked for feedback on two possible options: introducing a new FOB China price for refined material, and splitting its existing quote into two, based on quality.
"This process is continuing and we look forward to meeting with the Chinese indium producers, on behalf on which, the declaration was sent, to seek their input," the statement said.
But Metal Bulletin said it was not only the Chinese producers that needed to be taken into account.
"We would like to assert that our assessment process includes both buyers and sellers within the trade and covers transaction in markets that include, but are not exclusive, to China," Metal Bulletin said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
"This results in an assessment that is representative of the global market for indium, though MB acknowledges that producers in China, largely, but not completely, dominate supply. It is important, therefore, to recognise that Metal Bulletin's published indium prices represent actual sales in all regions and not just China as implied within the declaration."