SHANGHAI, Dec 24 (SMM) – This is a roundup of highlights across China's manganese industrial chain for 2019.
Imports of manganese ore continue to rise
The amount of seaborne manganese ore entered China in 2019 increased 20% from a year ago, according to SMM calculations based on customs data.
The source of imports changed significantly as greater imports of non-mainstream manganese minerals from Brazil, Cote d'Ivoire, and Ghana squeezed the share of materials from Australia and Gabon. The legitimisation of mining operations in Zambia, South Africa, and Kenya also allowed the steady shipment of local manganese ores to China.
In 2019, the combined monthly imports of manganese ore from South Africa, Australia, Ghana, Gabon, Brazil, and Cote d'Ivoire accounted for more than 91% of China’s total imports per month.
Greater inflows of foreign manganese ore, together with the increase in varieties and import sources, provided downstream producers in China’s manganese industry with abundant choices for raw materials but also saw intensified competition in the import market.
Manganese prices accelerated decline at year-end amid higher inventories
Prices of electrolytic manganese in China witnessed a steep decline in 2019, with the average spot prices on an ex-work basis falling 2,009 yuan/mt, or 13.98%, from a year earlier, to stand at 12,358 yuan/mt.
Supply resumed in China’s major production regions in the second half of this year, following after stringent environmental and safety checks on manganese mines and smelters in 2018. This, together with subdued orders from overseas amid trade tensions and demand for lower prices by steelmakers at home and abroad, accounted for the lower manganese prices.
Manganese prices have slipped below 10,000 yuan/mt in some regions at the end of the year, triggering production cut or suspension at small and medium-scale producers.
Prices in 2018 were boosted as supply was unable to meet the demand on the back of production curbs.
Burgeoning ternary cathode materials market bolstered production of high-purity manganese sulphate
China's production of high-purity manganese sulphate soared 63.93% from last year to 151,800 mt in 2019, according to a SMM survey.
Rising demand from the emerging downstream market of nickel-cobalt-manganese ternary cathode materials incentivised the operation and capacity expansion at high-purity manganese sulphate producers.
Some downstream mills set up self-sufficient processing and recycling production lines, which also supplemented the supply of high-purity manganese sulphate.
Nonetheless, continuous additions of new capacity for high-purity manganese sulphate in 2020 could lead to unbalanced growth in supply, SMM estimates.
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