GLOBAL VANADIUM WRAP: Chinese Vanadium Prices Slide on Soft Buying, European V2O5 Follows

Ferro-vanadium prices in China retreated over the week ended Friday August 16 amid limited buying interest, while the price of vanadium pentoxide in Europe fell back from recent gains, following the trend in China.

  • Chinese FeV, V2O5 export prices continue to soften, tracking domestic trends
  • European FeV unchanged, V2O5 prices slip
  • US ferro-vanadium prices narrow upward.

The export price for ferro-vanadium in China softened in the latest assessment period on August 15, after sentiment among the country’s ferro-vanadium exporters was depressed further by a steep price drop in the domestic market.

Fastmarkets’ assessment of the export price for ferro-vanadium, 78% V min, fob China, was $37-40 per kg on August 15, down by 6.1% from $40-42 per kg in the preceding week.

Chinese ferro-vanadium exporters were still not interested in making offers, citing the limited chances to conclude any deals in the export market given the still-wide price gap between the Chinese and European markets, despite the recent evidence of weakness in the Chinese domestic market.

The price gap between China and Europe, which narrowed to $6.00-7.85 per kg from $9.00-9.95 per kg a week earlier, was still preventing any significant transactions between China and Europe from been achieved.

The Chinese domestic ferro-vanadium price continued to fall over the week after domestic suppliers cut their offer prices to boost buying interest. Many mills and traders, however, remained on the market sidelines after noting that the price has been on a downward trajectory, market sources said.

“The demand [for vanadium products] is generally thin in the middle of a month, but the recent dips in the domestic market are likely to prompt some mills to delay their procurements scheduled for late August,” a Chinese ferro-vanadium exporter said. “Mills are usually cautious about replenishment [of raw materials] when the price is on the decline.”

Some Chinese ferro-vanadium suppliers, however, were quite calm in the face of the price falls of the past two weeks, saying that with the limited availability of spot cargoes, they have nothing to worry about.

“We have very few spot cargoes at hand and therefore are not eager to sell them now,” a Chinese ferro-vanadium supplier said. “The direction of the future [ferro-vanadium] price trend is still unclear, so it’s better to take a wait-and-see approach at the moment. After all, we do not have much selling pressure at all.”

Upstream, China’s export price for V2O5 continued to slide, following the trend in the domestic market.

Fastmarkets assessed the export price of vanadium pentoxide, 98% V2O5 min, fob China, at $8.40-9.10 per lb on August 15, down by 3.3% from $8.40-9.70 per lb in the previous week.

The spot price for V2O5 in China showed further softening amid relatively abundant supply and limited buying interest.

Many Chinese ferro-vanadium and vanadium nitrogen smelters remained cautious about securing cargoes on the expectation that the V2O5 price will fall further in the next few weeks.

“We did not buy any volumes [of V2O5] though we barely have any stocks on hand, because it’s still not the right time,” a second ferro-vanadium supplier said. “The [V2O5] price may decline further, so it’s worth waiting for a while.”

European FeV stabilizes, V2O5 weakens
Fastmarkets assessed the price of ferro-vanadium, basis 78% V min, 1st grade, ddp Western Europe, at $31.00-32.15 per kg on August 16, unchanged week-on-week.

Spot market activity in Europe was slow during the week, with few sales concluded within the current price range.

The market expected trading activity to start to pick up slowly from late August, when market participants come back from their summer holidays.

“A few end-users are back in the market and there are several inquiries around, but it’s still quiet,” a trader in Europe said.

“There has been a lot of price checking but no-one is willing to book any business,” a second European trader added.

Meanwhile, the price in Europe for vanadium pentoxide, 98% V2O5 min, in-whs Rotterdam, edged down last week to $6.80-7.50 per lb on August 16, from $7.00-7.50 per lb a week earlier, on concluded business and amid a slowing ferro-vanadium market.

“The upward momentum in Europe stopped after prices in China moved lower this week,” a third trader in Europe said.

US FeV price narrows upward
The ferro-vanadium market in the United States largely fell dormant last week, with prices firming slightly on the low end amid improved market sentiment.

US spot prices for ferro-vanadium, 70-80% V, in-whs Pittsburgh, narrowed upward to $14.75-15.25 per lb on August 15, up by 10 cents from $14.65-15.25 per lb in the previous week, according to Fastmarkets’ latest assessment.

Consumers were largely absent from the spot market, but an uptick in buying interest within the trade was noted.

“It’s quiet from a mill perspective because of the time of the year,” a supplier source explained, “but you can see that there is some confidence back in the market now that traders are looking around for material again at these price levels.”

Market participants believed that prices will become firmer when activity resumes in the spot market.