SHANGHAI, Oct 30 (SMM) – China’s manganese ore imports rose 47% from a year earlier to stand at 2.358 million mt in September, exceeding 2 million mt for a third straight month, data from China Customs showed. This reflected robust demand across Chinese markets.
In the first nine months of the year, manganese ore imports came in at 19.54 million mt, up 23% from a year ago. Ghanaian manganese ore accounted for 1.99 million mt, standing 51% higher than the same period last year as Chinese company Tianyuan Manganese commissioned its mines in Ghana in May 2017 after it acquired Consolidated Minerals in November 2016.
Tianyuan's manganese capacity of 800,000 mt/year came online in the second half of 2017 and this substantially boosted demand for ore materials.
While one of the manganese-maker's mill suspended from May, its other two mills maintained stable operation and generated demand for manganese ore of 180,000-190,000 mt per month, according to SMM calculations.
The remaining manganese ore imports mostly entered plants that produced manganese ferroalloys. Chinese steelmakers operated at high levels to chase healthy profit margins. This boosted demand for ferroalloys and grew operating rates across producers of manganese ferroalloys. Demand for manganese ore expanded significantly as a result.
China’s manganese ore imports, excluding Ghanaian resources, stood at 17.55 million mt in January-September, up 20% year on year.
Domestic production of manganese oxide ore remained under pressure from environmental probes. Output of domestic manganese oxide ore was already small and quality of that material was poor.