SHANGHAI, Mar 25 (SMM) – About 1.2 million mt of manganese ore production in South Africa is expected to be affected by the 21-day nationwide lockdown aimed at containing the coronavirus, a local trader estimates.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the three-week lockdown on Monday March 23, including closing mines, starting from midnight Thursday March 26.
South Africa, one of the world’s top manganese ore producers, exported about 1.7 million mt of manganese ore on average per month after it loosened its control over manganese mining and trading almost a decade ago, and 70-80% of its manganese ore exports were destined to China, according to SMM data.
SMM estimates that South Africa’s three-week lockdown will affect 840,000-960,000 mt of manganese ore supply to China, creating a 14-day supply gap and lowering inventories in the top consumer by about 16%.
As of Tuesday March 24, inventories of South African manganese ore, including semi-carbonate and high-iron ore across Chinese ports totalled 2.06 million mt, 1.72 million mt at Tianjin port and 340,000 mt at Qinzhou port, showed SMM data.
SMM assessed prices of South African semi-carbonate manganese ore at Tianjin port at 37-38 yuan/mtu as of Wednesday March 25, up more than 10% from four-month lows of 33.5-34 yuan/mtu on March 16.
The price rally came after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of emergency on March 15.